Sonja van Kerkhoff    1989 - 98

part seven                         nederlandse versie          

sculpture by Sonja van Kerkhoff + Sen McGlinn

Memorials (Gedenktekens),
(above in April, below detail in October), Arcen Castle Gardens, (KasteelTuinen Arcen), Limburg, The Netherlands, 1996.
Here the text was in Dutch, English, French + German.

sculpture by Sonja van Kerkhoff + Sen McGlinn

My work often is concerned with art as experience, combining the conceptual with the physical. In Memorials, the viewer first encounters a plaque with the text of a story about a feminine spirit's encounter with a garden, which clothing behind as a sign of mercy (memory).

Near the plaque was a dress form of ceramic tiles imbedded in the ground. The fairytale-like story helps to emphasize the process aspect of this art in a language familiar to the visitors so that they would be inclined to consider the art as part of a process rather than an an independent art object (laid to rest).
Here the art experience is a combination of the story, the garden and the tile memorial.

More about this sculpture

    interactive work by Sonja van Kerkhoff
Mycelium, 1995
Made for the group exhibition
Mycelium incorporating the 22 artists'
works, Landbouwbelang, Maastricht,
The Netherlands.

More about this

In the computer installation, Mycelium, I was interested in blurring the boundaries between an artwork and the viewer (and by analogy the individual and society).

Behind a window-like opening, visitors could see an image (a composite of one of the art works by the other artists in the exhibition, with a close-up of one the people I live with). Instructions informed them that they could choose any image to interact with by typing words over the image. Two printed images then appeared from a slot. One image was a random image with their texts placed in another order over it. The other was the image they had interacted with. Each visitor chose one image to keep and the other was left to become part of a mushrooming installation.

The intention of the line of images and texts, the most visible part of this work, was not just to extend that moment of interaction into the surrounding public space but also to show a growing material manifestation of the exhibition itself; the art works and my personal interaction with them on the computer, and the visitors' interactions and presence in that time and space. Here the visitor could create their own 'mycelium' (organic system) and share their part of the story.

Making Salt   made with Gaudi Hoedaya and Sarah Buist began as a website and then evolved into a performance.

The website (http://www. SoHo/Square/1079) has a database of images that change each time the viewer clicks on "filter".
They are images on the theme of filtering information in our world.

For the performance at ISEA, in Manchester, people were ushered in to sit next to each other in a central space towards the back, while I sat in front of them typing text which was projected onto five small screens in the front half of the lecture theatre.
There was a large video projection on the front wall of various hands filtering and playing with salt. The effect was that the changing words seemed to move in the space in front of the changing images and also to fuse into them.
While I was typing the 'filtered' texts, which were to do with our senses, history, politics, the spirit and science. Sarah & Gaudi poured salt into the palms of those seated at the end of the rows and asked them to pass this on (and the salt was filtered as it was passed on).

Ghandi claimed India's right to define itself by extracting salt from the ocean. This performance combined textural and visual references to the process of filtering, where everyone was left with salt on their hands.

Artwork by Sonja van Kerkhoff  

What I have found hardest about living in the Netherlands is that life seems so catagorized here. I use my children in my art and in my art-making process not 'just' because I am a mother, but because I am convinced that they are part of the real world and my art is about the 'real' world!

Big Ones, consists of two larger than life-size translucent photo-images of children who could be posing or playing. Their gestures are ambiguous. One stands on one leg holding his head in his arms and the other is bent over, feet wide apart, about to roll a rock over the sand.
The title refers not just to size, but also to telling 'big ones' -stories.

More about "Big Ones"

 Artwork by Sonja van Kerkhoff

Wrapping for a marginal citizen is a 12 metre long cloth with 24 identical images of my 6 month old son staring directly at the camera. The various texts under-neath each image 'read' as a sort of monologue-come-dialogue. They reflect comments made to me when I had a baby with me on a train, in a gallery, or on the street. It is also a piece about how I feel as a foreigner in The Netherlands some days.

 Artwork by Sonja van Kerkhoff

The video of the same name is quasi-biographical in that I use my own art objects to tell stories, just as the children tell stories in their playing.

Two voices: a cynical one and an optimistic one 'converse' as images of eggs being played with, being forced into transparent egg-cups, being eaten and being broken merge between images of my art objects being played with by the children.

The first and last text for both the video and the cloth is: "It is a law of nature, the strong survive".

In the piece Mutability (1993), I took a snapshot I made in the Louvre of my husband and son and presented it in a form so that the physical image 'mutates' in its visibility as the light source changes. My starting point was resistence to the idea that motherhood, or sainthood, was something set in stone.

In another work, Virtue of the Rose, I was examining the associations between what we call an 'ideal' and what we call a 'characteristic', and in particular I used the names of the Bahá'í months, such as ' Loftiness', 'Splendour', 'Questions', 'Words', etc, as starting points.

Our months, each nineteen days long, are also attributes for the divine. They are ideals and characteristics.

So I took these words, changed some, added some others and placed them over the image of an open rose. The rose is a symbol of ideal love and for me, a fitting symbol for the divine, because in the Bahá'í writings, ‘love’ is repeatedly stated as the source of all things. It is ‘love’ that attracts, and ‘love’ that inspires. Bahá'u'lláh wrote that his first counsel for us is to "Possess a pure kindly and radiant heart".

I engraved the text "Virtue of the rose" into the deep frame to literally imbed it in the frame which symbollically gives the image a context. The word, virtue, comes from the old English, 'virtu' which meant an inner strength or characteristic, while today it means a 'good' quality.

I have often wondered how one could make an artwork which symbolised the soul. The sculpture, Parable of the rich fool, is an attempt at this. The work consists of five polished transparent resin house forms raised slightly above the ground and arranged in a semi-circle. If you stand directly above each 'house' a text can be read refracted through the roof. If you move, the text disappears and the house appears both empty and full. It is a solid piece of resin but there is nothing to see. The text is the biblical 'Parableof the rich fool' which tells of a man who built houses to fill with all his possessions, but at the end had nothing when God called for his soul.

Tulips from Istanbul, is a piece about being here in the Netherlands. The tulips appear to be of glass, in varying shades of orange, and hang from the ceiling.

The aesthetic experience is a combination of touching or playing and a few historical facts.

The tulip was imported into the Netherlands and Germany from Turkey around the year 1600, at roughly the same time as the House of Orange became the Royal House of the newly formed nation of The Netherlands.

On the postcard relating to this work I have incorporated a quotation from the Qur'án,
"It is not a tale invented,
but a confirmation of what went before it..."

Surah Yúsuf 111

This chapter of the Qur'án refers to progressive revelation. This is a concept that all religiousleaders or prophets come from the same source and are part of the same eternal religion. Here I connect this Moslem and Bahá'í view of religion to that cultural symbol. The tulip was never a found object, it came from somewhere, and in this instance, that somewhere was a Moslem society.  

>>Page one of this article    Latest Work    zoek op medium    Sonja's c.v.    Sonja's design site