Throughout her work, Marleen Sleeuwits has photographed interiors we encounter in random places: the dead corners in office buildings, waiting rooms in airports or the empty corridors in hotels. They are spaces that lack a connection with the outside world. This raises a series of perplexing questions: what is the actual function of a particular space? Where are these places located? What time is it and what temporality to these photographs contain? The lack of references adds something unsettling to these spaces and they appear to be situated beyond your consciousness. The feeling of estrangement and disconnection touches the essence of Marleen Sleeuwits’ work.
The artist’s technical choices in terms of print size and detail in the sharpness and structures give photography an emphatic physical quality. Sleeuwits’ intention is for the viewer to step inside nd be able to relate physically to the portrayed space. ‘I want the viewer to be attracted to the image by its structures, colours, light and sharpness, yet I want the viewer to feel unsettled by the lack of references and the distant character of the locations,’ says Sleeuwits. This feeling translates literally the tension the artist experienced when she attended these locations.
In the past year, the artist has been deforming the spaces in a vacant office building herself. Her intention is to investigate whether certain qualities of interiors she photographed previosuly can be reconstructed in a more simplified way. The aspects in each interior guide the artist as the starting point of the work, allowing her to work with materials encountered in the spaces she portrays. Non-durable materials like laminate flooring, sticking tiles, false ceilings or insulation materials are usually the materials to give the interiors the capability to change their identity. Instead of working with the existing architecture, Sleeuwits constructs psychological spaces which convey the feeling of disconnection in a more personal and profound manner. ‘By creating spaces within spaces or by showing several layers of walls I can suggest the presence of various dimensions within a space,’ says Sleeuwits. The resulting photographs are therefore images that create places in a dimension suspended in between reality and illusion, or, to quote the artist, ‘as if there is a gap between seeing what is there and what is not.’
This text is based on Marleen Sleeuwits’ artist statement © Marleen Sleeuwits; adaptation by Sabin Bors / July 8, 2014. All rights reserved.