by Manon Berendse
Oval panels that block one’s view (but not really) the tinkling sound of a waltz as an invitation to walk around a wooden pavilion, a thick red carpet or a path of silvery white beans: Karin van Pinxteren builds her world around ours. She establishes contact.
Originally, appearing in her performances as an impeccable hostess, she would personally welcome her visitors. That contact later came with commanding one-liners that she projected onto a wall, stamped on hands or applied to angular light boxes. Her titles are anything but hesitant. Guide me. Share your warmth with me. They urge us kindly. Give me your order. Reflect with me. With such purified sentences, Van Pinxteren opts for dialogue. Though there is no actual encounter, we sense hospitality.
Not often does an artist deal so directly with what can be said and what remains unsaid: with that which distinguishes artists from their audience, which makes the concerns of the creator differ from those of the viewer, and the self differ from the other. Van Pinxteren attempts to intervene without involving herself. She is absent, yet not invisible.
In her works from recent years, she registers her fascinations more and more in three dimensions. Not only a typographical text on a support, but also the floor and surrounding walls become part of her installations. She develops spaces into ‘existential interiors’ and directs our gaze to a single painting or photograph. In austerely painted or spotlit strips, she overturns the familiar image of a space into a place to be conquered anew. The surroundings can be seen as a stage, acquiring meaning once someone appears on it. Our presence is especially wanted in works such as Waltz with me and Nach dem Blick, where seeing makes us participants. Our bodies proceed cautiously; the eyes take it all in, and the thoughts just come. Where are they—in the midst of our uncertainties, observations, generalities or judgments? And what is needed to allow those thoughts to circle about freely and not settle until later?
Van Pinxteren places her worlds on the pages of this compact book and occasionally provides them with a sentence. This is done in a modest yet fearless way. During the preparations, she happened to mention the pearls that play a role in older and more recent work: worn by a hostess, hidden in that heap of white beans, photographed on the wet sand of Zeeland, personally offered as a means to reflect and, for centuries, accompanying the highest protocol—when dealt with by a woman.
Approach and seclusion: those are the two poles between which Van Pinxteren likes to operate. She prefers to allow things to speak for themselves and has great faith in those whom she invites into her interiors. Like a grain of sand, swept into an oyster: her work begins and ends with an exploration of the unfamiliar.
© Manon Berendse, writer, journalist, text from ‘Visitor, invite me’, 2009 | translation Beth O’Brien