Installation view of NOT the Actual Site at Contact Photo Festival Toronto
View of interior no. 39, 2013 at Contact Photo Festival Toronto
NOT the Actual Site, Interior #51 installation at LhGWR, The Hague, The Netherlands, 2017
NOT the Actual Site, installation at LhGWR, The Hague, The Netherlands, 2017
Marleen Sleeuwits in her studio
Marleen Sleeuwits is inspired by impersonal environments, places that could be anywhere and nowhere, such as vacant zones in airports, unoccupied corridors of hotels, and empty rooms in office buildings. The Netherlands-based artist is attracted to these non-spaces for the lack of impression they leave on people; her work focuses on finding ways of visualizing the identity of these voids and connecting to them in novel ways. Through structural contradiction, illusion, and the manipulation of scale, she aims to transform viewers’ awareness of their surroundings.
Primarily working within abandoned office spaces, her process involves stripping the rooms down to their individual components, laying bare the layers found beneath the surfaces. She then reassembles the room using materials found on-site, such as fluorescent tubes, paper towels, laminate, and tape, by adapting techniques of sculpture, painting and drawing. Experimenting with the variability of the commonplace substances she finds, Sleeuwits creates contradictions of spatial orientation, and then photographs the end results.
Her compositions obscure a given room’s anatomy, yet she deliberately incorporates small clues that ground her works in reality; an electrical socket, for example, provides a subtle indication of scale that is otherwise difficult to comprehend, and close inspection reveals sheets of insulation, pieces of ceiling, and sparkling foam rubber.