2014年12月12日 星期五

The artist and the writer: Berlinde De Bruyckere and J.M. Coetzee

The artist and the writer: Berlinde De Bruyckere and J.M. Coetzee
Belgian artist Berlinde De Bruyckere is a contemporary sculptor of enormous renown.  Her striking, disquieting, mixed-media pieces are composed of wax, horse hair, wool, wood, and paint, among other substances.  Her forms are reminiscent of bones and flesh, broken tree limbs and tattered rags. There is a beauty to the pieces, but they can be difficult to look at.

In 2013, her installation Cripplewood-Kreupelhout debuted at the 55th Venice Biennale. In anticipation of that project, the artist contacted a writer whom she greatly admired, Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee, and asked him if he would be willing to act as curator.  He was indeed willing, and the result was a collaboration that resulted not only in a dramatic piece of art – the largest sculpture De Bruyckere had yet made – but also a moving correspondence between the artist and the novelist, a story by Coetzee entitled “The Old Woman and the Cats,” and another short piece of writing by Coetzee which was, like the sculpture, entitled Kreupelhout.

KREUPELHOUT
Cripplewood is not deadwood.  Deadwood: in the mythology of the American West, the town of failed hopes where all trails end.  Cripplewood, by contrast, is alive.  Like all trees, the cripplewood tree aspires toward the sun, but something in its genes, some bad inheritance, some poison, twists its bones.
The lexical tangle around kreupelhout–cripplewood–gnarlwood (gnarled, knurled, knarled are all the same work in variant forms):
1   kreupelkruipen–creep–crouch–crutch (kruk) 2   gnarl: gnarled, snarled (knotted) 3   snarl: 1. a snare (trap); 2. a tangle, knot (of hair)
 The cripplewood tree that cannot straighten itself, that grows bent, at a crouch; from whose limbs we cut crutches for those who can only creep; a tree of knotted limbs, gnarled, snarled.
Knots are of two kinds: the rational kind, creations of human reason, that having been tied can be untied; and the kind that occur in nature, for which there is no loosening, no solution, no oplossing.
Cripple/ kreupel: a word no longer in polite use.  Rejected as unclean, it is dismissed back to the world from which it came and to which it belongs, a world of hovels and tenements, of open drains and coal cellars and horse-drawn carts and starving dogs in the streets.  An unwanted word, pressed back, repressed, buried.  The cripplewood  tree grows our of the buried past into our clean present, pushing its knotted fingers up through the grate/ gate behind which we have shut it.
J.M. Coetzee
Adelaide, 14 February 2013


  1. Berlinde de Bruyckere
The correspondence, the story, and a detailed rendering in photos and words of the installation are gathered together in the 2013 book Cripplewood/Kreupelhout, which was published by Mercatorfonds and distributed by Yale University Press.

This month, we’re pleased to distribute for the same publisher a first-ever monograph, Berlinde de Bruyckere, edited by Angela Mengioni and with contributions by Emmanuel Alloa, Gary Carrion-Murayari, J.M. Coetzee, Caroline Lamarche, Angela Mengioni, and Philippe Van Cauteren.  Surveying the full breadth of De Bruyckere’s career, the book captures the unsettling tension between the immense force of her art and the commentary on the frailty of life that they often offer.
9780300204452

Berlinde De Bruyckere (1964, GhentBelgium) is an artist based in Ghent.
She specialises in sculpture in various media including wax, wood, wool, horse skin and hair, though she also works in watercolour,gouache, and since the early 1990s many of her major works have featured structures involving blankets. Their use is symbolic both of warmth and shelter, and of the vulnerable circumstances such as wars that make people seek such shelter.[1]
In 2000, her work with five dead horses, In Flanders Fields, a commentary on World War I, was exhibited at the In Flanders Fields MuseumYpres. She gained international acclaim at the 2003 Venice Biennale, when her sculptures were shown in the Italian Pavilion. Since then, her solo exhibitions have included ones at Hauser & Wirth, Zurich (2004); La Maison RougeFondation Antoine de Galbert, Paris (2005); and De Pont Foundation for Contemporary ArtTilburg (2005). In 2006, her work was included in the 4thBerlin Biennial for Contemporary Art and exhibited in a two-artist show at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf.
Recent solo exhibitions include The Mystery of the Body: Berlinde De Bruyckere in Dialogue with Lucas Cranach and Pier Paolo Pasonli, The Kunstmuseum, Bern, Berlinde De Bruyckere', Hauser & Wirth Zurich (2010), Into One-Another To P.P.P.', Hauser & WirthNew York and We are all Flesh at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne.
Berlinde de Bruyckere is represented by Hauser & Wirth.

References[edit]

  1. Jump up^ Berlinde De Bruyckere, Museum de Pont press release

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