WIELS, 354 avenue Van Volxem, 1190 Brussels

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Joëlle Tuerlinckx: WOR(LD)K IN PROGRESS’
Review by Marianne Van Boxelaere
Until 06-01-13 in WIELS, Van Volxemlaan 354, 1190 Brussels.
Open: Wednesday’Sunday: 11am’6pm
An exhibition is, first and foremost, an experience of space - space composed, perhaps, of objects of space - that proposes action, or reaction, as a means of reflection, of thinking our human condition. As a common experience, it regards itself as public and open to all, to all forms of creation, interpretation, within a given territory or space.
An empty moment, in the sense that it lets us see all other movements.
‘WOR(LD)K IN PROGRESS’’ is the first retrospective of Joëlle Tuerlinckx (°1958) in her hometown Brussels, on view at contemporary art centre WIELS. Joëlle Tuerlinckx’s vocabulary consists in the first place of the most basic visual components: lines, colour, volumes, spaces and wall projections. In the nineties, the artist started developing her work around the concept of the ‘exhibition’. Since most of her work is not suitable for photographic registration Tuerlinckx has drafted her own personal lexicon to accompany the exhibition. It serves as both a form of documentation and a navigation tool that determines the visitor’s perception following specific principles and rules. While the title refers to a sceptical notion of progress, both artistically and economically, the lexicon is, by nature, the exact opposite. Using a list-making logic Joëlle Tuerlinckx tries to organise the often irrational and chaotic process of thinking itself.
Before entering the exhibition, the visitor is provided with a summary with the usual information: location of the artworks, titles, dates, materials etc. Remarkable, however, are the minute details she added, such as a particular light and shadows, even going as far as to offer possible ‘meanings’. In this way, before entering the space itself, the visitor is challenged to grasp the exhibition on a conceptual level. The desire for sensorial stimuli pushes us to the first exhibition space.
The show’s gravitation unfolds itself slowly while moving through it, and the artist’s incredible feeling for spatiality and composition seems to reach its full splendour. A first, rather horizontal room gives a panoramic view on her oeuvre. Powerful, rigorous lines, geometrical volumes and the alternation between different pastel shades results in an elegant interaction with the surrounding architecture. Rhythm is a crucial aspect in understanding Tuerlinckx’s work.
The second half of the exhibition, housed in the museum’s upper floor, has a greater amplitude and vastness and is ideally suited to question the elasticity of time and space typical of her work. The show is full of visible and invisible threads connecting different corridors and angles. In the middle of the room is a table in a cage, next to an iron pole representing the midpoint of the art centre. Going up another floor, one reaches the attic of WIELS, for the occasion endowed with the colour pink. Here and there, Tuerlinckx uses bright colours or a darkened room with stroboscopic light effects to create an intensely sensorial experience. At another point in the exhibition, the visitor is invited to throw a piece of paper in the old elevator shaft of WIELS, and watch it fall.
Deconstruction, perception, presentation and registration are key concepts in Joëlle Tuerlinckx’s work, together with a lucid and wry sense of humour. The show seems incomplete and unfinished. It’s no coincidence, then, that idea of potentiality is very prominent in ‘WOR(LD)K IN PROGRESS’‘.

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