Exhibition overview CYCLE at PARK Tilburg

Crossing each other in a cycle – on the work of Braam and Eussen

Issue no3
Jun -Jul 2021
Makers Of Their Own Time - Relational Activism

Bram Braam en Anneke Eussen are from the same generation, both grew up in the Dutch region of southern Limburg, and moved to Berlin for some years. They produce architectural work about decay, revaluation of the old and used, and the cycle of materials. Linda Köke talks to the artists about their work and their first cooperation in the exhibition CYCLE at PARK Tilburg.

Bram Braam: ‘Our collaboration for this exhibition had somewhat of a risk in it, because our work and our practices have a strong connection with each other. Eventually it all worked out very well: our works compliment each other, while still being quite different and showing contrasts.’ It is precisely this pleasant play between similarities and differences that make CYCLE a joy to visit.

CYCLE offers a reflection on the constant cycle of decay and rebuilding, and our use of and relationship with materials. Both the individual works and the exhibition as a whole show a juxtaposition of cleanliness and new materials versus rawness and repurposed materials. Our relationship with materials leaves a lot to be desired: too often we discard things that have a second life in them, whether it is an object, a material or a dilapidated building. Braam and Eussen comment on our relationship with the old and the used and offer a newfound respect for used materials through the works shown in PARK.

Exhibition overview CYCLE at PARK Tilburg

Exhibition overview CYCLE at PARK Tilburg

In CYCLE, artist Anneke Eussen takes the possibility of transformation as her starting-point. 'Once broken materials often offer countless variations in its former shape', she says. Spread across an entire wall in PARK is her series Nothing gets lost in time (2020), consisting of broken antique glass that has been twisted in such a way that the fracture lines form the new perimeter. Each of the 24 panels originally had the same rectangular shape. Because each panel broke in a different way when removed from the frame, twenty-four new and unique shapes were created. The twenty-four panels refer to the twenty-four hours in a day. Eussen: ‘I am fascinated by how people try to classify things in systems like time and by how these systems affect how we see and value things. Time is in western culture often taken as a linear movement, but I see it as it as a circular movement.’ This circularity is reflected in the glass-series as well, where the destruction of one piece of glass serves as an immediate starting-point for many new ones.

The original details in the glass panels are still visible, like the glue traces where the panels were fixed into the framework. The materials are not manipulated, which demonstrates Eussen’s great respect for her materials and their many possibilities. The delicate nature of the series stands out against Braam’s large installation that lends its name to the show: Cycle. The clinical, white lines of Braam’s sculpture offer a sharp yet interesting contrast against the fragility and intimacy of Eussen's Nothing gets lost in time, yet dealing with similar subjects.

'Once broken materials often offer countless variations in its former shape'

Anneke Eussen, Nothing Gets Lost in Time (detail) (2020)

Anneke Eussen, Shifting Perception

After studying in Maastricht and Antwerp and having lived in Brussels and Berlin, Eussen now lives and works in Vaals in southern Limburg. The town contrasts with the industrial character and fast pace of the Belgian and German capitals in many respects. Nevertheless, Eussen also experiences similarities. As a result of the depopulation and ageing population, industrial buildings in Vaals are also becoming vacant. When new materials, buildings or consumer articles deteriorate or break down, they are suddenly experienced as worthless. A building is renovated or even demolished and replaced.

This is where Eussen’s shows connect with that of Bram Braam, whose works are exhibited in CYCLE as well. Like Eussen, Braam looks into the lifecycle of materials, and specifically in that of architecture: the placement of a building, its appropriation by usage, and perhaps even its complete disappearance, follow up on each other. After death - or after the decay of architecture – this cycle begins anew. By re-appropriating used materials such as old lampposts, rubbish bins and demolition waste, Braam questions whether we can still know what we are actually looking at? How do we interpret our daily reality, if we are not sure of anything, whether it is real or reconstructed?

Like an island in a sea, Cycle is the centre that dictates how the works around it can be seen, the playful architectural construction has openings that allow visitors to peek through and see the other works in relation to one another

When walking through the exhibition, the architectural influences in the work of both artists are evident. The works of both Braam and Eussen not only have a monumental quality to them, they also directly refer to architectural elements such as building materials like glass or concrete, specific locations or entire buildings. The exhibition itself shares this architectural feel: the former chapel, now exhibition venue, places Braam’s installation Cycle in the centre on a platform consisting of wooden pallets. Like an island in a sea, Cycle is the centre that dictates how the works around it can be seen. It shows an intriguing play of horizontal and vertical beams, creating a playful architectural construction with openings that allow visitors to peek through and see the other works in relation to one another - like windows allow one to look at what is outside, while still seeing the window frames.

Bram Braam, The Flow of Present (2020), 200x220 cm

In Cycle, Braam refers to artists from the minimalist movement of the sixties, such as Sol Lewitt, as sources for inspiration. In his work similar geometric shapes come to the fore, yet he combines them with more destructive forms of demolition, decay and vandalism. ‘Mondrianesque references’ are combined with ‘the brutalist and modernist architecture of Le Corbusier and the work of Gordon Matta Clark’. The work Cycle in the exhibition is partly a direct reference to Sol Lewitt's sculpture Structure (1994), which is located in Berlin's public space in a residential area in the Kreuzberg district. The sculpture has been appropriated by the local residents by plastering it with stickers or splattering it with graffiti. Sol Lewitt's sculpture is a meeting of opposites: geometric precision and arrangement stand in stark contrast with the work’s surroundings. Over the course of time, the sculpture has been radically transformed; a transformation that has now been manipulated in PARK’s exhibition-space as well.

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Metropolis M Magazine for contemporary art No 3 — 2021