The work of Dutch artist and bookmaker Ruth van Beek draws from her ever-growing archive of found source material taken from vintage books and magazines. These photographic images are her tools, providing both the source and initial context for her work. Van Beek physically intervenes in the pictures by folding and cutting them, adding layers of painted paper, and rearranging and manipulating the images to reveal a universe within. Activated through these contextual and physical reconfigurations, her work transforms the archival clippings from silent paper objects to vivid biomorphic actors.
For her site-specific installation at Sapperton Park, van Beek pulls from photographs found in instructional manuals for children’s toys. Here, a set of child’s hands are surrogates for the artist’s own hands, shown animating a collection of abstract painted shapes. Like the hands of a giant, these fingers initiate a playful exchange between the physical and temporal space of the rudimentary toy construction sets in the original photographs and the colourful, faceless characters who now fill the frame of the work.
The Play is curated by Jeff Khonsary for New Documents
About the artist:
Ruth van Beek is a Dutch artist and bookmaker based in Koog aan de Zaan. Her work has been presented in several solo and group exhibitions in Amsterdam, Berlin, New York, and San Francisco, and published online and in print in Capricious, Foam Magazine, Vanity Fair, Rodeo, It’s Nice That, and the British Journal of Photography. She recently completed a collaboration with the Italian fashion label Marni. Her book The Cast was published by New Documents in 2017.