Exhibition Review: Marjan Teeuwen - "Destroyed House"
Review by: Billy Anania
For the last decade, Marjan Teeuwen has sought out enigmatic settings for her ongoing Destroyed House series, which is currently on display at Bruce Silverstein Gallery. The buildings that house her labyrinthian structures were once actual homes. Teeuwen’s work begins where their conventional purposes end. No longer domains for ordinary people, she transforms their interiors into vast networks of assemblage.
Within each home, the Dutch artist demolishes walls and floors, reconstructing rooms to her liking. Using the leftover debris and rubble, she develops her own designs with minimalist color palettes. While the locations remain the same, the interiors bear little to no resemblance to their original forms.
The process blends sculpture with architecture, and is brought to completion through photography. Teeuwen captures her elaborate subjects in high resolution, allowing the structures to convey a sort of hallucinatory effect on the viewer. In this way, she examines the relationship between structure and discord, distorting the viewer’s sense of direction and spatial recognition.
There’s something inherently radical about this type of organized chaos. Sure, Teeuwen is working with old structures and found objects, but the way she sets each scene is uniquely innovative. Take “Krasnoyarsk 1” for example. In this piece, she stacks assorted books, papers, wood and concrete within a cavernous old Russian home. The result challenges the viewer’s perception of depth and space, like an abstract painting or optical illusion. From afar, the photo is seemingly illustrative, even cartoonish in its details. But when viewed up close, the individual components become clearer, the structural integrity more coherent.
In examining the subtle complexities of Teeuwen’s abstract architecture, one can make sense of the artist’s style. These rooms, hallways and chambers serve no utilitarian purpose, but instead accentuate the divide between creative design and practicality. It seems that, at any moment, the pillars and walls might crumble under their own weight. In this way, they are delicate and transient, temporary compositions to fill the void.
Destroyed House runs through April 14 at 529 W 20th St. For more information, visit www.brucesilverstein.com.