Monique Thomaes

2018 | reflections

reflections

2018 – museum DE MINDERE – St. Truiden – B
permanent video installation

 

reflection
refraction
disappearing
in brilliance
and light
a moment between the present and the past

entering the space the visitor becomes part of it by his own shadow

video stills

installation view

1995 | blau-äugig

blauäugig

1994/95, 2 parts, each 15’ colour, dv
première: CC Scharpoord Knokke, Belgium 1995
Multimedia

Antique sculptures photographed in Berlin’s Pergamon museum. These photos became the „raw material” for various media combinations: a photographic installation, as well as a slide projection and a video work.

blauäugig
… back/repeat: The possibility that the human figure could enter in Thomaes’ work was never excluded. This role was always filled by the observer of her work who, in a 1:1 ratio, could find himself reflected in the sculptures and installations. In the works dealing with room space as well, it is the visitor’s living, moving body which produces reflections or silhouettes in the light. On the level of image creation, it is in the first place the photography of sculpture that offers a primary, static – and twice reproduced, therefore mediated – picture of the human being. In Berlin’s Pergamon museum Monique Thomaes photographed antique sculptures. These photos became – as is characteristic for her method of procedure – the “raw materials” for various media defamiliarizations and combinations. For the installation “Blauäugig” (1995), she transformed her initial working material into photographic details, actual reflections as well as video films and slide projections. From these documents of anonymous sculptures, she deleted the eyes and the area about them – a motive similar to that used later in the video “Couchée”. Thus the eyes of the stony figures are blank; they do not offer an observant glance, but rather its omission. The eyes of the photograph are shadowed zones. In the center of the picture is, nevertheless, the distance between the eyes, that point between the eyebrows which leads to the forehead and which, in the condition of tension-filled concentra-tion, forms into wrinkles. It is that imaginary point where an exchange of the senses between interior and exterior, between vision and cognition, becomes focused, and where projections from interior and exterior images intersect. This point gives hardly anything away visually and it is considerably less attractive than the eyes; for one intuitively searches for eye contact with one’s peer even if that peer is a centuries-old sculpture in photographic reproduction. First comes an intimate jolt caused by confrontation with the set-back eye cavities and absent eye contact of the sculpture which thereby forces one’s glance to wander to the forehead, a surface formed by light and thereby giving it only a small degree of depth. Like a blind mirror this image throws back the observer’s intruding stare, tossing it back behind his forehead. Vision meets the visionless. A short-circuit, a silent implosion. The body as a sculpted, objective given have sought refuge in the work of Monique Thomaes. It has retreated back to the level of its representation, the image, and has revealed itself as a doubtful witness of its very self. Doubts are existentially connected with symbolization. The possibilities of manipulation offered by the procedures in technical image making, allow Thomaes, on the most diversified levels of visual presentation, to manifest these doubts (both self and media reflexive) in a visual form.

1996 | v-ivre

v-ivre

1995, 2 parts, each 10’, b/w, dv
Galerie Bostoen, Kortrijk, Belgium 1996
Multimedia

 

Luk Lambrecht about the work
“The two ascetic videotapes show a ten minute sequence depicting inhalation and exhalation, taking place around the neck area of the artist.

The slowly moving, black and white self-portraits are, at first glance, not recognizable as such, but instead show a great similarity with abstract, three-dimensional texture. The video images are played back with a coarse grain; thereby results an aura of fundamental unfamiliarity and doubting concerning that which is perceived. Owing to effects of close-up’s, the pictures take on an incorporeal aspect and within the context of an art exhibition may be interpreted as gently rising, almost draped pictorial representations. They are forceful pictures because the observer is simultaneously aware of both video images; consequently life’s rhythm becomes distinctly conscious, an effect which is further emphasized by the occasional insertion of still-video pictures which thereby gives rise to short pauses during the run of the video.”

v-ivre

Gallery Clo Bostoen in Kortrijk-Marke is displaying the recent works of Belgian artist Monique Thomaes, now resident in Berlin. One video monitor respectively is set up in each of two minimalistic, black painted cabinets mounted next to one another. The two ascetic videotapes show a ten minute sequence depicting inhalation and exhalation, taking place around the neck area of the artist. Such a spot, usually remaining unobtrusively hidden beneath a necklace, is generally considered to be a delicate, almost mythical body part. Here I am thinking of innumerable representations throughout art history in which the unfortunate Lucretia is presented shown before she finally does herself in. In Jan Vercruysse’s 1983 photographic representation of Lucretia, the neck area became the physical focus of seduction and death.

Thomaes’ slowly moving, black and white self-portraits are, at first glance, not recognizable as such, but instead show a great similarity with abstract, three-dimensional texture. The video images are played back with a coarse grain; thereby results an aura of fundamental unfamiliarity and doubting concerning that which is perceived. Owing to effects of close-up’s, the pictures take on an incorporeal aspect and within the context of an art exhibition may be interpreted as gently rising, almost draped pictorial representations. They are forceful pictures because the observer is simultaneously aware of both video images; consequently life’s rhythm becomes distinctly conscious, an effect which is further emphasized by the occasional insertion of still-video pictures which thereby gives rise to short pauses during the run of the video. Just as the American John Coplans observed in a monitor his aging, decrepit body in order to later make split-second decisions concerning how to photograph his body, so Monique Thomaes also uses a monitor to look on during recording of a video.

Analogous to the procedure of John Coplans, she presents in the gallery neck area photos taken from a series of 36 shots which she created based upon a precise time plan and a selection of the videos tapes. They are perfect fragments which she presents one after another like dish towels laid upon a clothing stand or like huge freely fluttering transparencies left hanging from the ceiling of a gallery’s theatrical side room.

Narrow reflective strips are attached to the wall which, owing to their suggestive height, unnoticeably reflect the visitor’s vulnerable neck area. The small reflections, the abstract video recordings, and the photos create together a kind of brief and exemplary breath-picture of present, as well as all future, visitors. In the mirrors the putative fiction of the reproductions becomes a newly fashioned ephemeral reality!

Concerning this observation, one may read in the catalogue accompanying the exhibition: “Take a step back in order to come closer to oneself. One’s own body stays back as a prototype, perhaps also as an after-image.” In its purest form Monique Thomaes presents an installation of integrity by using a simple image which, through its repetitions, takes one’s breath away.

v-ivre

Bodies become anonymous figures in her photographic and video works. Even her own body – the “pre-” picture from the video installation “V-ivre” – refrains from drawing attention to it-self and surrenders over to the granulation of the photosensitive paper. Only through cognition of the non-identical, the blank areas of representation, is identity reflected …

… forward: Two monitors, a ten minute filming sequence, uncut. Standing some distance back, both projection surfaces can be observed. Two statues. A shadow extends almost imperceptibly to the right. Darkening. The aperture contracts. The camera is close up against the body – thus when inhaling, the picture seems to edge closer, so large the minimal extension. Silently and slowly. Inhaling. Exhaling. The other picture, time deferred. Inhaling, exhaling. Another rhythm. At the same time, the same body, the same breath, unsimultaneous images. Restless breathing – fast, under pressure. The image in the monitor is black-white; i.e. gray, for the most part. Many grays. Gray like basalt. Granular like basalt stone. Rigid surface, continuous pictures. Breath on the threshold. No body. Or better: no body in the picture. No flesh, no skin. Surface, movement in time, changing volume, no location, no mass, no touching. Intimate. With what? Between whom? – De-caying. Spreading of Light. – Details – The camera before the video monitor. Picture after picture is photographed. Shudder release, dilation of aperture, shudder release. A different rhythm from the breathing in the film. Inconsiderate. In the beginning of photography one referred to the “Pencil of Nature”, that which draws upon the slides. What could be more authentic and more identical then nature’s own picture of itself? – The mirror? A fleeting picture. The mirror divides into two and yet still needs the one which finds its reflection in it. No solutions can be expected from the mirror. – Pictures with a high resolu-tion. Pictures of a relieved body. Losing itself and finding itself again. A look in the mirror. After a longish absence, I recognize myself again. – Take a step back in order to come closer to oneself. Art is abstraction for a picture. One’s own body stays back as a prototype, perhaps also as an after-image. Fear. Rigidity causes fear. De- caying causes fear. Design images of a tender transit … – always too many and always too few. Thirsty and drunken. Inhale, exhale … Repeat!

installation view Niemands Adem, Temse 2005
Nationaal Museum Poznan, Polen, 1998

1997 | flux

flux

1997, 4’, colour, sound, dv
De ongezochte Vondst, Odapark Venray, Netherlands
video installation

 

Out of the series observations (people, clouds, water, wind, time, light)
An observation of water in close-up, edited as an explosion.

exhibition view

1998 | point de vue

point de vue

1997, 10’50, colour, sound, dv
première: video projection Argos, Brussel, Belgium and NBK Berlin 1998
other presentations: Belgian Embassy Berlin 1998
shooting place: the Moderna Museet Stockholm during the open days before the opening of the museum

 

Groups of people are moving in different directions, a voice is giving some informations. The filmmaterial is manipulated: the bodies are disappearing in over-exposure, their movements are dissected into several short and long sequences. The room is not identifiable, one could speculate that they has assembled here for some specific occasion. The cuts are visible: the rhythm is given by the combination of image and sound.

– augen blenden – 1998
published in “de passage monique thomaes” vice versa verlag berlin 1998
translation by John Epstein

point de vue
… forward: The figures appear like white shades of themselves, sections left blank, a negative. Groups of figures move in different directions, advancing toward or away from one another. The room is not identifiable; one could speak of the interior of a room with a window front and then go on to speculate that a group of people has assembled here for some specific occasion. So much for the initial situation, the givens. The situation in the film is another: bodies are deleted out to light contours. Their series of movements are dissected into several long image sequences which are played back in either direction, forward and backward. The cuts represent caesuras in time and, as such, are visible. Movement in space mutates to technical movement in time. There is the time span of the video-tape (ten minutes), and there is the discontinuous time created by the broken, jagged movements which, freed from progression in actual space, drive to insanity since these images no longer spring from technical necessity but rather from pure, technically feasible, imagination. Cold, frozen time assembled piece by piece. The figures of the negative freeze in reproduction, then dissolve in fuzziness. The white shadows liquefy to a fall-out of light …

… back: In the Pergamon Museum Monique Thomaes observes how window and curtains, even the passing of the elevated train, are reflected in the glass of the exhibition display cases. Hence to her the display cases themselves appear to be ideal sculptures, transparent bodies, in that they simultaneously reveal the extensiveness of space, the outer space external to them, and even that true exterior space which is reflected via the glass pains of the window. The object undergoes a multiplication and a synchronism of appearance, the selective cognition and focalization of which are left up to the observer.

point de vue
The first photograph in history was created by the Frenchman, Nicéphore Nièpce, in the year 1827. It was entitled “Point de Vue” and it depicted a view from the window of the photographer’s study. Monique Thomaes’ most recent video work bears this same title, one which is fraught with numerous significant meanings: first of all it means “view” or “vista”, a meaning which in principle the photograph by Nièpce also includes and which encompasses the connotations of perspective, expectation, possibility, and hope; however there is another meaning to this expression which predominates above all the others and which may be translated by “point of view”, a word carrying with it the abstract connotations of viewpoint, aspect, and angle of observation. Upon closer consideration of Monique Thomaes’ works, all these aspects and levels of meaning gain both validity and relevance. The short, repetitive sequences of the video work “Point de Vue” seem like early animated photographs; the work is visually related to such predecessors both in its color scheme as well as its lack of focus. In much the same way that the first photographic attempts using the camera obscura and asphalt coated glass plates did not allow for sharpness of definition, so within the boundaries of the monitor, do the videotape’s electronic images disintegrate into vibrating “points”.

In his book “The Basic Principals of Art History”, art historian Heinrich Woelfflin observed that throughout the history of painting and drawing the dominance of line continuously diminished; it was in this phenomenon that he maintained he was able to observe the esthetic expression of a society’s successive inner, agitated states. It is in this manner that video and computer pictures, in which there are no longer lines but rather (pixels-)points, can be seen as the provisory point of termination in this line of development. Moreover, the “nervousness” of these constantly moving and striking images serves as an appropriate symbol for the frenzied rush of our time and for the outer and inner circumstance of our culture.

However, there are other reasons why Thomaes utilizes the artistic medium of video as an instrument for presenting her ideas. One overriding reason can be summed up with a sentence written by Annelie Pohlen in her article for the catalogue “Videonale 6”: “It is above all the immaterial, the illusive, that thing which cannot be defined according to temporality, location, or spatiality, or the conceptual malleable reflection concerning, yet resisting, reality, which the technical Instrumentarium video – owing also to its connection with the flow of light energy – essentially boosts. The artist herself has indicated the above with her comment: “In this form I have attempted to reach a certain immaterialness in my themes, to allow them to become fleeting.”

Monique Thomaes emphasized the important role of “light energy” (in other words light as a formative element in her work) in another context. This question of the “form of light” – in its scientific as well as philosophical dimension – was already first broached and discussed in detailed in the 13th century essay “Forma Lucis” by the Italian theologian and philosopher Bonaventura. Light as a concrete epistemological, theoretical, abstract-religious concept has, over the centuries, repeatedly played an important role in art history – among others in the history of the painting of Flanders, the artist’s homeland.

During the years Monique Thomaes has spent in Berlin, light’s representational possibilities and the processes of perception which it requires have always played an important role in her work. Thus in view of this continuing occupation with the theme of light, one may add these diverging strands in the interpretation of “Point de Vue”: “view” as the light of hope, and “point of view” as something throwing light upon an object, thereby allowing it to appear in a new light.

Light projections, time-light photographs, light reflections, and notes concerning light reflections were stations along the way to “Point de Vue”, a work which contains light flooded images of people appearing as though they have come from the heliotypic processes used by Nièpce. The corporeality of these figures seems to have been taken away; they express an atmosphere of brevity and transitoriness, this indeed being one of Monique Thomaes’ recurring themes.

During the shooting of their film concerning the first photograph of the world, which, as has been mentioned above, was entitled “Point de Vue – the view out the window”, Swiss film directors Bernhard Lehner and Andres Pfäffli were confronted with this “photo incunabulum” at the University of Texas in Austin, where it is kept. To their astonishment, they noticed that during observation of the almost invisible picture within the glass display case, outside of their own reflection there was almost nothing else to be seen.

The comment arising from this incident: “seeing and knowing – that which we don’t see is perhaps one of the secrets in image creation.” This statement could also stand as the motto for Monique Thomaes’ video creation “Point de Vue”.

1999 | femmes / messages / femmes

femmes / messages / femmes

1998-2008, 3 parts, each 3’, colour, dv

première: Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin 1999
other presentations: CC Mechelen 2006 (italian version)

 

Part of a work based on the photography of a plaster sculpture, a women, which was shot in Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia. It was the basic material for a lot of photographic works and a slide-projection installation. To this diversity of images a play of French adjectives is added. Alphabetically ordened and rhythmically edited, they created images in the head, which changes by each adjective.
(3 versions: french, italian, spanish)

femmes/

Wolfgang Max Faust published a study on the relation of fine arts of the 20th century with literature called “Bilder werden Worte”– pictures become words- in 1977. The first chapter, entitled “Worte werden Bilder”, treats the »translation« of literature into painting as exemplified by concrete poetry. Over two decades after the original publication of the book, the chapterâs title needs to be extended, as contemporary art uses the creative processes of literary production. Conceptual art developed the process of transferring painting into conceptual frames. The 80’s an 90’s saw the retransformation of this frame back into painting.

Still the word-image relation remains precarious. Being all the more difficult to interpret, the more complex the media transporting word and image are. In our civilisation of today it is the case that the visual culture has become the dominant channel of perception. The word itself increasingly loses its significance and is being represented through visual equivalents. Logos and icons are a concrete manifestation of this development. Monique Thomaes answers critically to this change of values with her complex installation. The diction she works with is concrete; it is accompanied by a visual framework. Both the words and their perceived environment mutually influence each other. The words used are the French terms which could be employed to describe a woman. Arranged alphabetically and rhythmically segmented by video-cut and by the presentation, they constitute a description. The changing adjectives ceaselessly alter the evoked image. The picture created by this process is not without relevant meaning. As these adjectives are the expression of a construction of femininity, the question of the origin of this construction, of its male or female creator poses itself.

Monique Thomaes’ reply is founded on experience. Her work can be related directly to one of Judith Butler’s statements : “The culturally integrated subject is in active relation to its constructions, even though they constitute the very attributes of its identity”. As if she had wanted to describe Monique Thomaes« work Judith Butler later continues saying: “The linear enumerationâs of adjectives from constructed positions attempt to capture a situated subject without ever completely succeeding. This failure to succeed is helpful as it raises the question of the political impetus from where the “etc” often found at the end of such lines originates.

One cannot speak of failure with regard to Monique Thomaes installation, as she succeeds in restoring the validity of words and phrases by a process of visualisation in which she takes recourse to a means of presentation which turns words into images. In glass-plates surrounding the screens, the spectator sees the mirror image of the text. This detail exemplifies the artistâs critical attitude towards the word-image relation, as it requires the spectator to explore the space in which the text is presented. On some screens the words can be read normally. The text relates in the same way to the surrounding space as the space creates a relation to the text. This clarifies one fundamental aspect of Monique Thomaes« relation to the medium in her works.

Very much in the same way as when the lexicon turns into a picture the works of Monique Thomaes are specific transpositions. The term transposition is to be understood as the process of giving content to a specific medium which it formerly did not inherently posses.

By actually being used to refer to something outside itself, the respective medium reflects itself. The installation “messages-femmes-” shows the word as a picture by simultaneously reflecting it with a mirror on the instance of its presentation. The work “o.t.” (1996) also exemplifies this attitude. Here an oscillographic wave-line represents the video images of three timed slide projectors operating. These transpositions allow recourse to means of deciphering and disempowering a visual culture.

The installation “messages-femmes” exemplifies this by visualising mirror images. Here words suddenly turn into words again and pictures turn back into pictures, because words are turned into pictures and the underlying process is demonstrated. This process is endless to the same extend as words do not imply complete representation. “This “etc.” is the necessary supplement to any attempt to permanently define identity.”

femmes/

Wolfgang Max Faust published a study on the relation of fine arts of the 20th century with literature called “Bilder werden Worte”– pictures become words- in 1977. The first chapter, entitled “Worte werden Bilder”, treats the »translation« of literature into painting as exemplified by concrete poetry. Over two decades after the original publication of the book, the chapterâs title needs to be extended, as contemporary art uses the creative processes of literary production. Conceptual art developed the process of transferring painting into conceptual frames. The 80’s an 90’s saw the retransformation of this frame back into painting.

Still the word-image relation remains precarious. Being all the more difficult to interpret, the more complex the media transporting word and image are. In our civilisation of today it is the case that the visual culture has become the dominant channel of perception. The word itself increasingly loses its significance and is being represented through visual equivalents. Logos and icons are a concrete manifestation of this development. Monique Thomaes answers critically to this change of values with her complex installation. The diction she works with is concrete; it is accompanied by a visual framework. Both the words and their perceived environment mutually influence each other. The words used are the French terms which could be employed to describe a woman. Arranged alphabetically and rhythmically segmented by video-cut and by the presentation, they constitute a description. The changing adjectives ceaselessly alter the evoked image. The picture created by this process is not without relevant meaning. As these adjectives are the expression of a construction of femininity, the question of the origin of this construction, of its male or female creator poses itself.

Monique Thomaes’ reply is founded on experience. Her work can be related directly to one of Judith Butler’s statements : “The culturally integrated subject is in active relation to its constructions, even though they constitute the very attributes of its identity”. As if she had wanted to describe Monique Thomaes« work Judith Butler later continues saying: “The linear enumerationâs of adjectives from constructed positions attempt to capture a situated subject without ever completely succeeding. This failure to succeed is helpful as it raises the question of the political impetus from where the “etc” often found at the end of such lines originates.

One cannot speak of failure with regard to Monique Thomaes installation, as she succeeds in restoring the validity of words and phrases by a process of visualisation in which she takes recourse to a means of presentation which turns words into images. In glass-plates surrounding the screens, the spectator sees the mirror image of the text. This detail exemplifies the artistâs critical attitude towards the word-image relation, as it requires the spectator to explore the space in which the text is presented. On some screens the words can be read normally. The text relates in the same way to the surrounding space as the space creates a relation to the text. This clarifies one fundamental aspect of Monique Thomaes« relation to the medium in her works.

Very much in the same way as when the lexicon turns into a picture the works of Monique Thomaes are specific transpositions. The term transposition is to be understood as the process of giving content to a specific medium which it formerly did not inherently posses.

By actually being used to refer to something outside itself, the respective medium reflects itself. The installation “messages-femmes-” shows the word as a picture by simultaneously reflecting it with a mirror on the instance of its presentation. The work “o.t.” (1996) also exemplifies this attitude. Here an oscillographic wave-line represents the video images of three timed slide projectors operating. These transpositions allow recourse to means of deciphering and disempowering a visual culture.

The installation “messages-femmes” exemplifies this by visualising mirror images. Here words suddenly turn into words again and pictures turn back into pictures, because words are turned into pictures and the underlying process is demonstrated. This process is endless to the same extend as words do not imply complete representation. “This “etc.” is the necessary supplement to any attempt to permanently define identity.”

femmes/

In the 1997 work “Femmes” which uses – as did the 1994 installation “Blauäugig” – the static picture of photography as well as the time sequence of the slide switch, Monique Thomaes exposed the photographic representation of a woman’s breast in literally meticulous manipulations. With precise data, she organized the gradually ascending and descending exposure times as regards the reproduction of negatives, thereby reaching into every zone where the motive dissolves either into light or darkness, thus visually vanishing from the surface. The timing of the projection of the transparencies is carried out according to a precise rhythm; however this is not singled out as information concerning the work. This precision of procedure is the basis for the analogous picture producing apparatuses (aperture/exposure time) which Thomaes applies in her capacity as an artist. It is a method according to measure, and a measure giving method. The confrontation arising here leads to creations in which the extremes of control/pressure and loss/dissipation are dealt with. It is precisely these works which tend to exclusively investigate the relationship between time and image (slide switch/ video), thus revealing the escalation of the catastrophic (cf. “Point De Vue”, “Hombre”) as a delirium with an equally dangerous as well as seductive, demanding absorption and exhausting, dynamic …

installation view Bethanien 1999

2001 | blue motion

blue motion

2000, 30’, colour, dv
première: video projection OEB, Berlin 2001

A succession of moving images designed in the analogue videotechnic and resulting in a meditative submersion in space and colour in a fluid rhythm.

 

Installation
In the staircase hall of the building I projected the videowork on a big screen placed in front of the entrance and the street: inside the silence, outside the streetnoise (passengers, cars, trains) and played them off against each other.

exhibition view

2001 | hombre

hombre

1997, 2 parts, 2’, 4’, colour, sound, dv
première: Intime Expeditionen – Badischer Kunstverein Karlsruhe 2001,
Haus-am-Waldsee Berlin 2001
video installation

Whereas in previous works static and slow-motion-effects are used, this work was the start of a new serie of image manipulation by using video-technical possibilities. a man is filmed on the cathedral place in Granada. He prepares himself for the procession. The colors are manipulated into over-exposure, his movements shortened and repeated, the rhythm decided. His motion is manipulated into a short piece of dance, of performance, showing himself. The place, the time of the day are not shown.

2002 | (e)space(s)

(e)space(s)

Video

2000, 2 parts, each 10’, b/w, dv
première: Schloss Plüschow, Mecklenburgh, Germany 2002
video installation

Two opposite windows filmed without changing the light circumstances, each window, changing the diaphragm minute after minute. The films show the two windows progressively from the deepest darkness into disappearing in total brightness.

more:
Angelika Stepken
Christoph Tannert

exhibition view

2003 | a cappella

a cappella

1999, 8’40, colour, sound, dv
première: Rencontres Internationales Paris-Berlin, video projection on a window in the streets of Paris 2003
and video projection in the hall at Podewil, Berlin 2003

 

A group of talking children filmed in a museums’ hall. The images and the sound are manipulated into a rhythmical dance and then reduced to the acoustic signals shown on the oscilloscopic display.

Distribution contact: info@art-action.org

exhibition view Paris
exhibition view Berlin

2006 | femmes / messages / femmes

femmes / messages / femmes

2006
installation CC Mechelen
displays
part of the work femmes/messages/femmes (1999)
(première Berlin – Künstlerhaus Bethanien)

the text on the displays of the Cultural Center of Mechelen who shows
normally daily informations
was now replaced by the continuing play of adjectives:
alphabetically ordened and rhythmically edited,
they created images in the head,
which changes by each adjective. 
(3 versions: french, italian, spanish)

installation view CC Mechelen 2006

2006 | ochos

ochos

2004, 4’, sound, colour, dv
première: video projection Maaltecastle Gent 2005
other presentations: screening Arenbergschouwburg Antwerp, Belgium 2006
video projection

 

Fascination for the choreography and work of Pina Bausch is the starting point for this video work. The movement of the dancers has been observed and analysed, the physical environment extended to an architectural experience and the music reduced to a sound decor.

time / movement and counter-movement / dramastructure / silence / speed / passion / tension / superiority / balance /
constitue the vocabulary of the final result; they conduct to architectural images with an emotional and sensual tension.

video stills

2006 | breathtaking

breathtaking

2006, different parts, b/w dv
première: “breathtaking” 2007, Fstforward gallery, Antwerp

 

Video recordings of the Manhattan skyline are the starting point for this work. Hundreds of stills of this raw material are manipulated and converted into independant elements. These elements are grouped as new structures reminding to scores and choreograhpy. Time and movement are predominant: the existing architecture and its environment are subordinated to the movement, time is stretched out, tension is built up.

All these elements are flowing together into a breath-taking experience.

Breathtaking

Twintig jaar heeft ze in Nederland gewoond en gewerkt, en ruim tien jaar in Berlijn: sinds 2002 verdeelt de belgische kunstenares Monique Thomaes haar tijd tussen Antwerpen en Berlijn. Thomaes maakte vroeger installaties, sculpturen en integraties met glas, metaal en hout, waarbij licht, tijd en ruimte een grote rol speelden. De Berlinische Galerie kocht werk van haar en dank zij een werkbeurs van de Berlijnse Senaat kon ze een overzichtscatalogus (de Passage) maken van tien jaar werk, tot en met 1997. Ook in Berlijn ontstonden de eerste videowerken, waarmee Thomaes nu opgang maakt. Ursula Prinz (Berlinische Galerie) daarover in de catalogus: “De kunstwereld van Monique Thomaes ligt in het immateriele. Haar werktuigen zijn de camera, de videocamera en de spiegel. Met behulp daarvan legt ze haar sujet vast: het licht. Want de vluchtige schaduw, de weerschijn die met verloop van tijd verandert of de tijd die zich manifesteert in het wisselen van het licht, zijn het fragiele medium van deze kunstenaar.” Die nu tien jaar oude tekst slaat wonderwel op het recente videowerk dat Thomaes toont in het Antwerpse fstforward. “Breath-Taking” uit 2006 bestaat uit foto- en video-opnames vanaf de Empire State Building van Manhattan. Ze maakte er twee werken mee: een waarmee ze aan de hand van honderden opeenvolgende foto-stills de skyline van (een stuk van) Manhattan heel langzaam laat evolueren in tijd (en dus licht); en één waar videogewijs heel langzaam wordt ingezoomd op enkele buildings. In elk van de werken gebruikt Thomaes meerdere stroken naast elkaar die elkaar spiegelen, zodat je het effect krijgt van een Rorschachtest, met beelden die van en naar het midden uit- en invloeien. De fstforward-ruimte werd binnenin uitgerust met spiegels, wat het effect van spelen met ruimte, beweging en tijd nog versterkt. Bovendien kan men door het zijraam van binnen naar buiten kijken zodat het Antwerpse stadsleven (met weliswaar minder “sky-effect”) in het Manhattan-droomwereldje binnensluipt. kortom, een poetisch-meditatieve ervaring.

video

video

1996 | de passage

de passage

Kunstspeicher Potsdam 1996
installation light projection / blue window

 

In the Potsdam “Kunstspeicher” a blue panel of plexiglas is placed in front of one of the gallery windows. The exterior light projected a colour intensive duplicate onto the gallery floor. Corresponding to the blue window picture in the same exhibition room “blank” slides were projected onto a large wall using three slide projectors. The slide equipment was put up in a certain distance from the projection plane so that visitors could see themselves as shadows in the rooms of light.

de passage

For this exhibition in the Kunstspeicher, Monique Thomaes displayed still another room installation which through rhythm, movement, and imaginary space experiences – and in contrast to the previously described works all of which made visible the “natural“ transformations of the light – simulated an active time experience by using guided light directed from artificial light sources in darkened rooms. Onto a wall, three projectors threw square, quadratic light areas which were distorted in their perspective owing to a slight tilt in the angle of incidence. While the left surface with its sharply defined edges remained motionless on the wall, the auto focus of the right surface’s projector was in permanent operation thereby causing a pulsing vibration which arose from the rhythmical changing in the degree of focus; such vibrations were further increased by the sequential hum of the “working“ projector. Using a blue shaded slide, the middle projector blended together the two areas standing at a slight angle to one another, consequently intensifying the “seeing“ of an actually non-existent room. The feeling that this room is actually present was so intense that the observer had to reach out in order to see that his hand is not “realizing“ a room, but simply a flat wall.

Since Monique Thomaes’ spacial works essentially develop over a time span, it was inevitable that she should also come to terms with the video medium, since this medium processes an even better facility for illustrating time-dependent processes. By using video, she becomes independent of light’s natural behavior and by sequential filming techniques she can make clearer the often minimal process of change or she can influence such change processes through artificial light sources thereby gaining an even more dramatic element.

de passage

In the creation “de passage”, surfaces of moving light are united with an architecturally related room presentation by means of slide projections overlapping with one another; this set-up, in turn, has the effect of influencing human space perceptions. Owing to his own shadow, the observer becomes, upon entering this room, a component of the installation thereby newly experiencing himself as well as his surroundings. In this instance light sources are predominantly artificial. The only source of natural light is filtered through a blue pane placed before the window. The observer becomes wrapped in light; he literally enters into the work. He does not look from without, but is rather a part of the work. In a consequent manner does the work of Monique Thomaes progress from one stage to the next. Her spectrum stretches from dissected objects to abstract constructions. Her precision of technique and handling of materials reveal a dominantly intellectual conception which does not, however, exclude the influence of empirical moments. Out of the detail, out of the simple presentation of a prop, evolves an entire universe which is just as artistic as it is alive.

Thomaes succeeds in uniting the stringent methods of constructivism together with delicate half-tones and then goes on to distill from this unity a poetic ensemble. From so many threads an entire network is spun, a network which may be understood as a complete whole and which is always in a state of dynamic change.

Eye – light – time – 1994
published in “de passage monique thomaes” vice versa verlag berlin 1998
in the catalogue “invite” Cultural Centre Knokke 1994
translation by John Epstein

de passage

… back: 1995-96 Monique Thomaes created various works for rooms or, to state it another way, with and in rooms. Time in space is first of all real time in which movement was also reflected over previous years in the sculptures. In the Potsdam “Kunstspeicher“ she placed a blue pane of plexiglas in front of the gallery window. The exterior light projected a color intensive duplicate onto the gallery floor. This light-image undergoes transformation, yet a transformation so gradual that it is hardly capable of being perceived – or at best only in the mind’s eye – during the average time a visitor spends in the gallery. The day’s various lighting conditions cause the window and floor presentation to appear respectively different in their qualities of brightness, intensity, and contrast. Toward evening the picture fades, the contours of the mullion and transom blur, and the projection extinguishes.

1995 | au lieu de

au lieu de

Parochialkirche Berlin 1995
installation display cases / blue / white glass / natural light

 

This installation in the “Parochialkirche” consists of twelve empty museum display cases in front of the church’s windows. In each of them two blue tinted glass plates are placed which are covered by two transparent glass plates set at a certain angle. With the movement of the spectator and influenced by the changing light the reflections and refractions flow with the observer: a “light sculpture” showing the church’s whole architecture cast in a horizontal plane through the glass plates.

au lieu de
Moving light is also the basis for her creation in Berlin’s Parochialkirche. The light and structure of the gothic church windows are reflected in the glass display cases placed before the windows and in their blue glass bottoms; these reflections alter in appearance according to the time of day and weather conditions. Furthermore, this process is preserved in the display’s photographs. Superimposures and fade-out effects produce an image which above all documents the augmentation in light. It is not the sacred which stands in the foreground here, but rather the constructive process leading up to the attainment of this “light picture”. Laszlo Moholy Nagy’s light-room-modulator comes to mind; the difference in Thomaes’ case is that such a complex instrument is not required. Her work is slower and quieter. She requires the observation time, which is already predicated by the nature of the existing phenomena. Her work is the result of several stages of development. The installation is just as important as the photo resulting from it, or even as the final video work.

2018 | the glory of the light

the glory of the light

exhibition
the glory of the light
de luister van het licht
muze’um licht en landschap Roeselare
18.3.18 – 3.6.18

 

“the glory of the light”

a staging by monique thomaes

The architecture of MUZE’UM L challenged Monique Thomaes to draw up an art intervention in which space, light, contrast between inside and outside and the viewer are of crucial importance.

Her staging leads the light inside and invites the audience to watch. It is an interaction between observation and being perceived. Monique Thomaes studied sculpting in the Netherlands where she stayed for twenty years. The switch to Berlin has influenced her strongly: her work has evolved from sculp- ture to spatial photo, light and video installations, in which the architecture and the viewer are of crucial importance. Time, light and space are the ‘tools’ that the artist uses. No everyday instruments, but three metaphysical concepts, three ‘greats’ that transcend reality. Also the cloud constellations that she shows in photo series and video montages play an important role Thomaes not only integrates the natural light in her work, she adds ingenious light from projectors and video cameras. Light incidence and sense of space are not goals in themselves, they serve as a way of expressing an atmosphere or emotion and that always in function of man.

Conventional boundaries are broken: inside becomes outside, environment becomes work of art, object becomes subject and vice versa.

As an artist, Monique Thomaes senses these sensitivities and shows them what you normally can not see: the silence of the silence, the luster of light, emotionality, serenity, time. The emotion is realized by erasing the excesses to the essence.

Less is more. In this way her art interventions get a disarming purity.

 

Lut De Block
muze’umL team

2007 | lieux

lieux

video

1995, 3 parts, each 8’, b/w, dv
Première: CCNOA Brussels 2007
shooting place: Salzburg/Hallein 1995

A camera is statically pointed toward a large room. Gradually and successively the camera’s aperture is opened. Initially, the picture in the monitor reveals merely a narrow slit of light located at the lower edge, in appearance somewhat similar to a drawing placed upon a dark background. Slowly but surely the line fills out to a re-cognizable room volume, until ultimately in a glistening white this figure loses both its dimensions and contours and is reduced to an empty surface. An opening and a closing-up of the room/image to vision, a gentle process.
(Angelika Stepken in the book “the passage – monique thomaes” 1998)

A comment of Christoph Tannert in the catalogue “de passage”: What patience such a room needs!

 

more:
Brigitte Hammer
Angelika Stepken
Christoph Tannert

  CCNOA Brussels 2007

2009 | the intimacy of space

the intimacy of space

In-Between, Antwerp, Belgium 2009
multimedia

Johan Pas – abstract from his text to the Exhibition

For In-Between Monique Thomaes constructs a temporary environment about perceiving and being perceived. By doing this she tries to cross some conventional borderlines: those between art work and art audience, those between inside and outside, those between art context and art work. By putting a row of glass panels against the back wall, the wall is being deconstructed into a play of reflections. The ‘out’ is being pulled ‘in’ and vice versa. These reflections are being filmed and projected in the adjacent room. Another room contains the direct registration of the street scene. The visitors are moving in the empty exhibition space between both zones: togetherwith the images from the street they create the spectacle of reflections and projections. Two led-screens are the link between public space and exhibition space. De constant flow of words (and their reflection) generates images and ideas. It is like a score for a reflection about architecture.

Johan Pas

more:
Johan Pas

2009 | plaatsen / lieux / spaces / orte

plaatsen / lieux / spaces / orte

Benedenzaal CC Kortrijk, Belgium 2009
multimedia

In the same way as the beholder, faced with this emptiness, has an encounter with something inside himself, eye in eye with a projection of zooming into the videostills who mirror the street map of New York, in the same way the image asks for the urbanized world as a condensed place of disappearing and revival on the rhythm of our heartbeat. And this is realised out of a bird’s- eye view. Is this the view of the supposed panoptic eye? In this case we face rather an eternal researching eye. It is an eye that first of all wants to registrate. And so this eye catches the ever changing rhythm and compresses it to the abstract minimal of her regularity. As if Monique Thomaes here, in this specific spatial context, puts a selfportrait forwards. It is a portrait of a postmodern subject as the fragmented residue of an enduring visuality. Beyond every large gesture, her installation functions as the homeopathy of every pathetic sentiment. The scanty poetry of her imaging never has the intention to go into any kind of nostalgia. There’s one central thing that remains. This is what Marcel Duchamp one’s mentioned in a pointed way and in his unsurpassed French: “une optique de précison flottante”. Which we can try to translate as: “an optics of flowing accurancy”.

Joannes Késenne

2010 | ingewikkeld

ingewikkeld

2010, 2 LED displays
as part of the group exhibition „Ingewikkeld” Hasselt, Clarissenklooster
organized by Gallery De Mijlpaal www.ingewikkeld.be

 

… Synonyms are different words with the same meaning …

On 2 led-displays, hanging side by side, synonyms of the words ingewikkeld(complicated) and inwikkelen(to wrap)are superposed alphabethically in a different rhythm.

In this way unattended and poetical combinations are generated again and again.

2010 | present-ed

present-ed

light animation in the Loggia KMSKA
Concept Monique Thomaes
Light advice Harry Cole

Light installation as part of the third edition from Into the Light international exhibition by Error One, (www.errorone.be) with video and light installations on public display in Antwerp South in collaboration with the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, Middelheimmuseum, M hka, Cinema Zuid, Air and several galleries.

 

For Into the Light Monique Thomaes made a light installation at the loggia high on the façade of the stately Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp.

The choice of this location arises out of her interest in space, light and architecture. During the course of the project, the eleven artists’ busts are brought increasdingly into the spotlight: one by one, or in group, a powerful spotlight draws these inconspicuous images out of their niche in a theatrical and poetic way.

The architecture remains unchanged: what is already there only receives an additional accent. Passers-by are invited to look at the building in a new way.

2011 _ het ligt in jou _

_ het ligt in jou _

 light installation
part 1, 3 x 3m projectionscreen / spot / textgobo
part 2, 4 x 3m projectionsscreen / 2 spots / colourfilter

as part of the second edition from winterlicht international exhibition at the Julianapark Schiedam (NL)

concept
several spots are directed on 2 screens, installed from each side of a lane in the park the visitors – are travelling into and through the light – become part of the work by creating shadows on the screens – activates the work

one of the spot is projecting the „title” and pronounces the content of the work.

the work is based on earlier works playing with light, time and space giving a special role to the spectator.

 

C. Tannert wrote about these works:
„Monique Thomaes’ on-the-spot-installations are journeys with and in light, a one-way ticket to the universal, a meditative exercise, a retrospective dream. An important stipulation of her room presentations employing light is the observer’s active experience of the room. It is exactly this correspondence which facilitates the initiation of a philosophical questioning while at the same time turning the eye inward. Silence. Opening. Now pay careful attention. Time is astray. What patience such a room needs!”

2012 | bookshowbookshop

bookshowbookshop

BE-PART art center Waregem
15.4.12 – 10.06.12

Exhibition about the Belgian Artist Book
participation with the artist edition

Intimacy of space

published to the exhibition
at Gallery In-Between, Antwerp 2009
concept Monique Thomaes
text Johan Pas
co-production Gynaika

2012 | high_voltage

High Voltage

Gallery De Mijlpaal, Heusden-Zolder
parallelevent to Manifesta 9 Genk
3.6.12 – 26.8.12

participation with

_coup de foudre_
interactive light-installation
neon – high tension – sensor

concept
The work is placed on the frontside of the gallery
behind the screen with the gallery’s logo,
thus creating a big screen-projection
every moment anyone is passing by

/space/light/time/movement/
/minimal shifting of lightintensity/
/artificiallight/sunlight/
/in a permanent dialogue/

2014 | bloed

BLOED (blood)

Landcommanderij Alden Biesen,
in cooperation with Gallery De Mijlpaal, Heusden-Zolder
05/07/2014 – 31/08/2014 group exhibition

participation with

_ bloed_stroom_
(_blood_flow_)

interactive light-installation
2 displays with words-play
10 glassplates 300 cm x 40 cm
2 filmprints

 

concept
for the entance space of the exposition “blood” I created a provisional environment with main topic observing or being observed

– two displays are hanging on the ceiling with the back to the entering visitor
– a number of overlapping glass plates are leaning against the opposite wall

The displays shows an animation of „blood”words:
A game of broken mirrored words arises in the glass-wall.

In first instance, the spectator is confronted with the mirrored images he is invited to move into the space between the two poles (displays and glasswall). His mirror image is mixed with the flow of words. The spectator is included in the work of art.

2004 | gestes / gesten

gestes / gesten

2004, 2 parts, each 5’30, colour, dv
première: Video Festival Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin 2004
2nd presentation: exhibition Stippels en Pixels, Zebrastraat Gent 2005

work in progress
TV-images from the daily international news out of the period of 11.9.01 observed and noted down the images: analysed, isolated
the material: manipulated, alienated, accentuated and assembled in a succession of a hundred of stills suggesting an innocent causerie.

place, time, theme become universal

A text by Vilém Flusser is cited: this is not meant as a subtitling but the words are moving the images to an higher plane of imagination.

2007 | andante

andante

2007 6’40 colour dv
première: video/multimedia days Antwerp, Belgium 2007
video installation
other presentations: “passie voor het ongrijpbare” St. Truiden, Museum Vlaamse Minderbroeders, Belgium 2007

The videowork “andante” is meant as an hommage to the filmmaker Ingmar Bergman.

The fascination for the monumentality of the images has resulted in different essays. Some details were taken out of the films, manipulated and assembled to a new composition where the movement and the repeating of the quiet action is creating a new visual experience.

Antwerp 2007
St. Truiden 2007

2008 | plaatsen / lieux / spaces

plaatsen / lieux / spaces

part #01, 3′, b/w

part #02, 3′, b/w

part #03, 3′, b/w

2008
première: Artchitectuur – Monumental – Bornem, Belgium 2008

exhibition view

time/space/light/sound/
factors
steering
the work and the viewer
converting
the existing architecture
its specific surrounding
into
scores
subordinated to
movement and time
the place
universal

2017 | present_ed: celibataire divas

present_ed: celibataire divas

CelibataireDivas

2 juli – 3 september 2017
Herkenrode Refuge Hasselt
groupexhibition

participation with

present_ed
video-installation 2 parts – each 14’

critic in H ART – 6/2017 Gust Ghijsens

Hunting for wealth and power and yet conduct a spiritual life?

The exhibition »celibataire divas« shows the work of more than sixty contemporary artists who portray this eternal quest for escapisme each in his own manner.

Monique Thomaes’ video installation summarizes symbolically this mix between the aristocracy of the treasure house and the mind.
This sets the tone as a metapher for modern art shown here: the tension between religious surrender and earthly ambitions.

2005 | sea_light_see

sea_light_see

2005, 6’15, b/w, dv
picture: belgian northsea 2005

text: weather report tagesspiegel berlin 1995
première: double video projection in the exhibition Hot-Re-Strike – Warande Turnhout, Belgium 2005

“sea_light_see points our eyes to the heavens, although the title awakens more associations to the sea. The phenomenon of bioluminescence – the illumination of the sea through millions of single-celled algae – shows a very strong relationship to the atmospheric play of lights in the atmosphere over our heads. The sun, the most important heavenly body, is our natural source of ultraviolet radiation. The large part of the radiation invisible to the human eye is absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere. It appears that the heavens can be grasped only in the veiling play of clouds”.

(Text on the exhibition by Stef Van Bellingen – Curator)

2001 | courandair

courandair

aerotecktura grosser Wasserspeicher (great water tower)
Berlin Prenzlauerberg 2001
6 synthetic pipes, ventilators, fabric

 

Air – the element most delicate in substance – is essential to all life. But can it be represented visually? Air can really only be felt, and usually we only perceive a lack, an impurity, or a movement thereof. A transparent pipe system slices through all the rings of the water tower in both directions (entry/exit). Ventilators move strips of cloth inside the pipes: a suggestion of how warm air is apparently being drawn in and cold air expelled.

installation view

2012 | clara 1212–2012

clara 1212-2012

video

historical and present interpretation

Museum De Mindere, St. Truiden (B)
18.3.12 – 17.06.12

group exhibition
participation with
– led display wiht text interpretation
– animation shown on 2 digital photo displays
and 1 control monitor

1994 | time sculpture

time sculpture

installation view

Martin Gropiusbau Berlin 1994
installation display cases / photographic paper / natural light

 

In a corridor of the Martin Gropiusbau 5 museum display cases were placed. Every minute, for five hours during an afternoon, a sheet of unexposed photographic paper was dated and then put it in the glass display cases. These time notations remained there until evening, free to the further processes of exposure.

When later the sheets were collected, those from the early hours were darkened, while those exposed to late evening light had hardly undergone any development.

Time was visible.

Angelika Stepken

– augen blenden – 1998
published in “de passage monique thomaes” vice versa verlag berlin 1998
translation by John Epstein

time sculpture
… repeat: Any cognition requires time, also when standing before an immovable sculpture. However in this case time is that time which the observers needs, takes, in order to establish a relation to the visible. Time, or perception, before a sculpture is latently open-ended because it establishes a kind of dialogue situation with space. The time of technical picture media is dictated. The observer follows – even if the work in question is of an “interactive” nature – the time, tempo, and rhythm of the apparatus. Before Monique Thomaes began working with the video camera’s moving picture, she observed in several experimental situations the phenomenon of light in time, as, for example, in the case of photographic direct exposures. Her studio, then in “Künstlerhof Buch“, became transformed into a camera obscura. Thomaes spread out photographic paper on the floor and observed the etchings which light created during different times of day and under various weather conditions. For her 1994 exhibition in “Martin-Gropius-Bau”, she dated, every minute for five hours in the afternoon, a leaf of unexposed photographic paper and then displayed it in one of five glass display cases. These time-notations remained there until evening, free to the further processes of exposure. When Thomaes later collected the sheets, those from the early hours were darkened, that is shadowed-over by light, while those exposed to late evening light had hardly undergone any development.

1994 | tu te souviens

tu te souviens

Künstlerhaus Berlin 1994
slideshow

 

In this work the slides change every five minutes, each transparency showing a cloudy sky at various times during the course of a day. Correspondingly, for respectively 30 seconds each time, a text is blended in “14:40 Berlin 9.5.1993 tu te souviens”. The time of the slide presentation is identical with that time which has been photographed: namely, from 14:40 till 17:35. The “tu” in the text is essentially addressed to the spectator.

– augen blenden – 1998
published in “de passage monique thomaes” vice versa verlag berlin 1998
translation by John Epstein

tu te souviens
The relation of a single point in time to the span of time – whereby the former is always determined by the person observing – led Thomaes on in the same year to the slide projection “Lichtung”. In this work the slides change every five minutes, each transparency showing a cloudy sky at various times over the course of a day. Correspondingly, for respectively 30 seconds each time, a text was blended in “– 14:40 berlin 9. 5. 1993 tu te souviens – 14:45 berlin 9. 5. 1993 tu te souviens – 14:50…”. The time of the slide presentation is identical with that time which has been photographed: namely, from 14:40 till 17:35. This “tu” in the text is essentially addressed to the spectator – however it refers to a figure who remains simultaneously anonymous though near, thereby suggesting reliability; this being a relation, an unspecified kinship, which appears again and again in Thomaes’ works. In the confrontation between text and picture or, in other words, between measures of time and memory, Monique Thomaes alludes to a melancholy correlation to the stored photographic image. If one is able to recall a definite, meaningful event or situation by means of a picture, a reversion to events occurring in the sky is doomed to failure. Cloud constellations are momentary, just as is memory. Both these moments, – reflection upon media and upon self – which are hereby broached, appear in her following work in an evermore explicit, tension-ridden relationship …

1992 | Räume

räume

Hackesche Höfe Berlin 1992
installation glass / natural light

 

A year later, 1992: an installation in a room belonging to the “Hackeschen Höfen”, which at that time had not yet been renovated. The glass plates now lie closely together, directly on the floor thus forming a large area. This work is no longer a sculpture but now refers to the volume and surface of the given room as well as to the room’s exterior space. The glass reflects inner and outer space. Owing to the glass plates’ edges, the reflection is distorted and fragmented. The empty room invites the beholder to observe.

– Construction of space and time in the light of events – 1998
published in “de passage monique thomaes” vice versa verlag berlin 1998
translation by John Epstein

räume
Quiet strength and a highly charged emotional atmosphere are the predominant qualities which come to mind when regarding those works of Monique Thomaes which instigate the apprehension of space through examination and experience. Her sparing use of materials permits a minimal shift in the light intensity of a multi-layered process of self-reflection to activate the observer’s self-experience and to set free a grandiose quality of experience. However, the nervous system of the observer is not overly stimulated by this occurrence of the “event culture“; rather, what is increased is his abilities to feel in the manner of a cultivated and finely tuned sensibility.

In order to examine how the artist achieves this effect, an intense occupation with her procedure, which brings into the foreground complex concepts through an application of simple means, is required. At first it might appear to be a simple matter when, in 1992, the artist laid down on the floor of a room in the then still un-renovated “Hackesche Hšfe“ (a late nineteenth-century living and business complex located in the district of Berlin Mitte) plain, rectangular-cut glass plates; the effect, however, was astounding; yet it was not astounding only owing to the fact that the visitor was initially unsure as to whether he may walk into a room with such a floor covering.

The mirroring of the windowpanes on the floor depicted not only the light falling in through the wall’s outer opening, but also the window’s form as well as the constant transformation of reflection caused by the continuous increase and decrease of light intensity in the outer room, this latter being a process which usually is unnoticed because it occurs “un-reflected“. What is interesting here is that the observer can only become conscious of and discover such processes when he is willing to surrender himself to the act of observation for a good amount of time; the reason for such patience is that, as a rule, the changes are more likely take place – allowing for the fact that thunderstorms or similar dramatic weathers events are not happening – slowly and progressively.

– augen blenden – 1998
published in “de passage monique thomaes” vice versa verlag berlin 1998
translation by John Epstein

räume
A year later, 1992, Monique Thomaes constructed another installation in an at that time still not renovated room belonging to the “Hackesche Höfe”. The glass plates now lie closely together and directly on the floor thereby forming a large jointed area which allows only a narrow space of maneuverability about the room. This work no longer has any sculptural, corporeal character; rather, it now refers to the volume and surface of the given room as well as to the room’s exterior space. The supporting capacity of the architectural base is visually canceled out; the glass covered floor becomes the room’s picture/the picture’s room. It is both a sensitive substance and a mirroring surface. The glass reflects both inner and outer space: the ceiling, the radiator, the mullion and transom, the building on the opposite side of the street. Owing to the glass plates’ beveled edges, the reflection is distorted and broken up. The empty room invites one to peek in. It is illuminated by natural light changing according to whether conditions and the sun’s position during different times of the day and thereby permitting the reflection on the floor to wander. Time moves the transparency, almost as a photograph, or a moving image. It is simply that this supporting material, or rather the medium used in this room installation, has not the storage capacity of celluloid; therefore manipulation of the image is not possible …

1991 | heute

heute

Künstlerhaus Bethanien berlin 1991
installation / glass / wood

 

The installation exists in a glass square: 4 x 4 quadratic glass plates are supported by 5 x 5 wooden cubes. The cubes are not like a pedestal, they are integrated into the sculpture. There is tension between the fragile glass plates and the wood, tension between materiality and immateriality. Wood carries glass. In the same space a second sculpture was installed, based on the same principles, but reversed: glass carries wood.

 

… back: In the beginning a sculpture stood here: quadratic four by four glass plates were supported twelve centimeters above the floor by five by five wooden cubes: a strict geometric order comprised of single components and which is, in principle, expandable. Formally and materially the work combines dichotomies: bodies and surfaces, opaque and transparent materials, and the principles of the post-and-lintel system. It is without a pedestal – unless one would like to consider the load-bearing wooden cubes as a pedestal, even though they are integrated into the sculpture. One observes the sculpture from above and consequently sees the levels of glass-plates as creating ambiguity too: they lead one’s glance down towards the floor while at the same time displaying the pictorial qualities of a reflecting surface. Another aspect of the sculpture’s visual impression is created by light: it both falls through the glass plates and is reflected back by them; it becomes absorbed by the black wooden cubes. Material and immaterial appearances balance each other out. In addition to this minimalist quality, the sculpture also has something playful about it, like a box of building blocks which, in a manner of reduction or extension, can be added to and built upon in numerous ways.

exhibition view
exhibition view

2010 | move_d

move_d

CC Ter Vesten, Beveren-Waas, Belgium 2010
Chapel Vrasene
4 tables/plexiglass/video installation

 

Stefaan Van Biesen
text to the exhibition – abstract

“… Monique Thomaes considers the architectural space as an integral part of her work.
A dialogue emerges between thinking, place and image. The artist improves space with a minimalistic zen attitude an lets the public participate its marvel.

For her installation she takes existing elements from the chapel, transforms them using light and projection and adds them back to the space.

So she filmed all the stained glass windows with increasing and decreasing exposure times – from dark to light to dark – and selected therefrom the ovals containing different personages and situations.

The video-montage, projected on the front-wall, resembles a portrait gallery: sculptures in a shining ebb and flow, as if the shining and disappearing of the visible were a metaphor for the changing and elusive light in space.
The same light coincides with the reflection of the seven stained glas windows on the four tables placed in the chapel and breaks on the blue plexiglass surface on the tables.
The image becomes an architectural abstraction: it is spread horizontally, exhibited and moved from the window to another place in space.

It is an invitation to look in another way to a space one thinks to know.”

celibatairedivas2

CelibataireDivas2

2 juli - 3 september 2017 Herkenrode Refuge Hasselt groupexhibition participation with present_ed video-installation 2 parts - each 14’