Arjanne Van der Spek

Arjanne van der Spek’s sculptures establish a subtle dialogue between the amorphous qualities of their material and the precise structuring of their elements. Un deux eins zwei hikkel pikkel, 1992, consists of four seemingly unfinished cement arcs at hip-level. Through the transparent base, the arcs seem to float. Polyester stones cast from a real stone—which stands in front of the arcs—are etched with the work’s title. Embodying the ability to outlast time, the original stone presents a sharp contrast to the almost weightless imitations. While the arcs appear uniform, their surfaces are, in fact, individually worked. Thus, there is a dichotomy between the order suggested by their uniformity and the disorder of their seemingly accidental construction.

Through the materials she uses and the way in which she uses them, van der Spek’s sculptures seem unfinished. There are no highly polished surfaces or shining parts, only raw surfaces in which one can see traces of the process of fabrication. She uses mostly soft, flowing polyester or hard, rough plaster. Rode Pauw (Red peacock, 1993) consists of two shapes on a pedestal reminiscent of a pair of spread legs. Without touching each other, the two prosthetic devices are held together by wire—seemingly against their will. These red appendages maintain a space between each other, suggesting readiness and a desire to engage in battle. In this piece a tension between power and vulnerability, between aggression and emotion, between attraction and revulsion, between opening and closing develops. This perpetual exchange of meanings is a continually evolving one.

Powerset, 1993, is also a unification of opposites. The title and the shapes fashioned from wire suggest sports equipment. Through the transparent, fragile wire construction, however, a different, more delicate meaning surrounds this work as van der Spek again plays with opposites that are both mysterious and organic.

Frank-Alexander Hettig

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.