Arnolfini, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA

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Joëlle Tuerlinckx: WOR(L)D(K) IN PROGRESS’
Arnolfini, Bristol
17 December 2014 - 16 March 2014
Review by Rory Duckhouse

The title WOR(L)D(K) IN PROGRESS’ immediately brings into question the nature of Joëlle Tuerlinckx’s exhibition at Arnolfini and suggests themes that are prevalent within the show. Both title and exhibition offer a puzzle, that we are left to try and answer for ourselves. The work is informed by the poetics of the everyday and found objects, mixing these elements to form an elaborate display. Collected and presented, the objects take on new meanings when placed within a gallery context and framed as art.

Tuerlinckx has argued that ‘an exhibition is - a perpetual redefinition of things, a sort of permanent refutation’’ (Tuerinckx, Lexicon, 2012). The work is in a permanent state of progress, in constant flux as we navigate the objects and notice how they interact within the space.

In the first room, the viewer is introduced to some key concepts that form the basis of the show - the line, the point and the circle, and their multiple meanings. These basic elements form a visual rhythm; drawings mounted in Perspex accumulate and gather on the gallery walls. On the floor lines demarcate space, linking disparate objects. A rock labeled ‘Bruxelles, Belgium 2005’ is linked to another piece of stone labeled ‘Central Park, Madrid, 2009’. This line not only marks a physical distance, but also a temporal one, linking these two points in by mapping the different experiences with these locations.

The display is almost encyclopedic in character, forming a cabinet of curiosities. Spaces are filled with layered images, sculptures and found objects that create multiple meanings. In the second gallery, newspaper clippings are framed and juxtaposed with colour swatches, line drawings and objects. The newspaper clippings are brought into question when displayed with the other material. What is revealed draws attention to conventional ways of seeing and how we attribute meaning to objects and images. Our attempts to make sense of the images in a conventional way shift and inevitably lead to a dead end, until what is finally revealed is the basic condition of seeing.

The Arnolfini is the third installment of this show, having previously been toured to Brussels and Munich. With each venue the installation changes: Tuerlinckx is interested in temporality and the work evolves from site to site. At the Arnolfini, the artist has incorporated colours that appear within the building: the grey of the floor has been adopted, as has a dark pink found on a roll of paper towel. A whole room has been painted in this colour, which seems at odds with the rest of the show, until the site-specific context is revealed.

A series of discs entitled ‘Ronds’ adorn the gallery walls. These discs are sections of wall and off-cuts from previous exhibitions, taken as souvenirs and re-presented as sculptural objects. Similarly seven pieces of 2x4 sit on the floor, labeled as ‘rescued objects #1-7’. The temporality of the exhibition is extended, informing the next installation and creating an evolutionary practice where older work is reworked into the new. With each institution offering a different kind of setting, the exhibition becomes a practice of re-informing the empty space, filling it with Tuerinckx’s artistic vocabulary.

In front of the fifth gallery, a vitrine houses a series of oversized books created from large sheets of paper that were previously nailed to the walls of earlier shows. These books map the previous dimensions of the gallery space and put them into an awkward archival form. Inside the gallery space, the same format is used, covering the walls from floor to ceiling; the fluorescent yellow surface faces inwards so we see a reflection of it at the corners. These references to previous works and spaces recur throughout the show. Elsewhere, orange wallpaper pinned to the gallery wall depicts the brick pattern in the artist’s studio, and a blue line in the third gallery marks the height of Tuerlinckx’s working space in Brussels.

Tuerlinckx’s installation within the Arnolfini not only reconfigures the exhibition space, but also the objects within it. Through the artist’s re-appropriation, everyday objects multiply and become exhausting, imbued with new meanings. Not only are the objects redefined, so is the way of viewing them. The work shifts our perceptions; key concepts such as presentation, documentation and temporality are explored and never quite finished, forming the potential for further enquiry.

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