Lens-based performance artist Kim Engelen



Videostill Borderlines Tape#hair

Other texts:
The New Studio Visit – Alternative Feedback Session by Kim Engelen 2013>>
Cydney Payton 2012>>
Lori Wax, dOCUMENTA (13), 60 wrd/min art critic, 2012>>
René Fidel Lazcano 2011>>
ArtPark/Goan Han Lim 2010>>
Urban Video Lounge/Toine Horvers 2010>>
Stichting Picos/Noud Heerkens 2010>>
Pand Paulus 2009>>
Pieter A.J. Reintjes 2005>>
Elvira Eomerovic 2002>>
Arjan Reinders 1998>>

Artist Statement

In one-way or the other, my work arises out of my own shortcomings (in contact with others). I work with these shortcomings. And because of this, I am strong. Or with faults. It depends on you, and where you stand, what you see.

People (or the absence of them) play the central role in my work. I play with the individual as work in progress, with the focus on the intrinsic thinking world and the inner strength of the individual. In the (absence of) meeting with another through conscious reflection, development (or deterioration) can take place.

More positively speaking or ideally, my works are about fulfillment and development, autonomy (within the meaning of freedom and the pursuit of a good and beautiful life), critical thinking, equality, and humanity.

Private performances
In the processes of exploring humanism-like ideals, I found a contradiction, which is the power-relationship in the making of work in which equality is lost. At the moment of capturing the material, there is a play going on with the person in front of my camera. My ideas that I want to express through video with the subject in front of the camera, I consider as a form of cooperation with each other. But as the artist/director and because the fact that I hold the camera I am the one who is in control. And my relationship with the person in front of the camera is shifting. It is unequal and that could be treacherous when looking for equality. The person in front of the camera becomes the subject, subjecting themselves to the wishes of me, the artist.

There came a shift in my working medium (which was usually video). My work became more bodily focussed. What does the body with its mind experience? And in relation to others, what is this (failing) interaction? For example the work "Tinder Models" (2015) shows not everyone desires equality. Although you don't really see me. It is quite personal and shows my period of sexual experimentation and at the same time midlife crisis. It probably shows also the agreed upon shifting of roles and extending bodily borders of desire and pain.

The woman traveling:

// Sun-Penetrations//
My ongoing art project "Sun-Penetrations" (2012-....) shows photographs and 1-minute videos of beams of the sun, which penetrate externally into the inner space, through windows, curtains, doors, burned glass, holes or creaks. Most works are half dark, abstract and especially the viewing of the video works together exude a meditative state.

In Sun-Penetrations the female-body is inside the home, the private space when experiencing the sun in her passage of time. Sun-Penetrations move around the perceiving domesticated body and its interpretation of the penetrating sun. My works come into existence by my own body traveling and thus living and staying in hotels, motels, residencies and new homes.

[ Bridge-Performances ]
Around the world, I am doing "Bridge-Performances" (2010-....). These still ongoing performancess are the makings of photographs of me by other people on bridges. The action in itself is simple, I ask individuals to make a picture of me with the bridge in the background. They don't know that it is an art performance and that I impose a cooperation on them. I give them my iPhone and stand in front of the bridge. The action, the performance is asking the people to make a picture of me and the interaction that is involved with this.

Early video works:
In the series "Words don’t come easy", the theme is language as a form of problematic barrier or as empowering instrument. In "I want to ride my bicycle" (2010), the self-actualization of the woman is visually expressed by the bike as a vessel to move forward in life and on own power. Through a webcam video, we see me as a young female artist mending the tire of my bike in my private sphere.

Overall I tend to use frames with close-ups, in order to show the face in detail and the head in which in my view internal processes take place. But in "I want to ride my bicycle" the focus is on the woman’s action, her process of fixing her means of transportation. The reparation of the bike-tire is a symbol for the development of people who wants to fix their problems and move on in order to continue to try to lead a happy life. The audio part pays attention to the effects of the outer influences. We hear academic English words summed up by a female computer voice and a counting system in the Limburger dialect of the Dutch language. Language is a way to express ourselves: our character, thoughts, feelings, and presence. We want to belong and we want to be safe. But we also want to be free. In order to have both, we try to adjust and lose our personal voice.

Visual language in my early video works (1997-2011):
Mostly intimate, poignant and direct. I used static or tracking shots, with close-ups and straightforward montage. Characteristics of people become visible and the suggestion of the viewer being there as either their mirror or as an observer (as the ‘fly on the wall’). I wanted to zoom in on consciousness processes with the inevitable that empirical emotions will be reflected.

September 2017//2016>>//