Angeline Dekker ontwikkelt architectonische constructies met bouwmaterialen van kwetsbare materialen. Deze constructies worden, door de materialen die ze gebruikt zoals papier en keramiek, entiteiten die geen stabiliteit kennen. Zij maakt afdrukken van balken, verbindingsstukken en deuren in papier of afgietsels in keramiek.
Door de monumentaliteit van de architectonische vormen die ze bouwt, in combinatie met de fragiele details, wordt er een spanning opgeroepen. Met deze spanning beoogt zij de stabiliteit en de zekerheid die gebouwen uitstralen te bevragen.
Zoals een bouwelement aan de basis ligt van een gebouw, zo ziet Angeline Dekker ervaringen en ideeën van mensen ook als bouwelementen die zich vormen of zich opnieuw formuleren en ontwikkelen. Zo zijn interne (persoonlijke) constructies van een mens eveneens continue in beweging.
'In particular, Angeline Dekker’s Internal Construct, 2009, a precarious wall-like structure cobbled together from paper, wood, and polystyrene, exposes the paradoxical fragility of its supporting structure, evoking both solidity and instability.'
The Delicate Balance of Critical Intimacy: About Almost Falling Walls That Almost Rise
(On the work of Angeline Dekker)
Take a tree. In growing it will have gotten only more and more cracks and fissures. If its branches get to heavy it will start to grow supporting and rather ugly lobes underneath the point where branch and trunk meet. If a storm in May has blown off branches that were heavy with leaves, or when a thunderstorm has hit an entire tree top, the tree will not cover up the many tender yellow splinters of its wound. Some trees – willows are exceptionally good at this – will lean over a ditch with a half rotten trunk, only just clinging to the soil, almost falling.
Or take a seventeenth century house that has seen how neighbouring houses have been torn down. Its naked walls must now be supported by planks, nails and blue plastic that will be torn after a couple of weeks, its tatters flapping in the wind. Probably it will need supporting beams, in order not to fall apart, collapsing under its own weight.
Then go to the work of Angeline Dekker, you’re in the right mood now, and you will see something that is slightly analogous to what has been described above, yet different.
Part of Dekker’s work consist in tearing apart the veil of stability that human beings use to forget or chase away time. There is not one building that will not start to have its cracks and fissures and that in the end will fall apart. This in itself is not tragic, in the same way as a tree being damaged by a storm is not tragic – although it can be dramatic. The work of time is not the work of tragedy. That is to say: time having its vengeance on those who sought to conquer it, does not produce tragedy. All will simply have been matter of time. Tragic is the sudden and only with hindsight unavoidable collapse of some thing that with every muscle or fibre it had, struggled to maintain an liveable equilibrium and in sight of finally achieving it, was struck by something that swept it of its feet. Dekker’s work will not show you this, nor will it simply show you the operation of time. Instead it acts out a certain unveiling and in doing this becomes vulnerable. It’s not tragic, it’s touching.
Angeline Dekker’s work can be divided in two types – one meditative, the other reflective – and both are, in a different sense, theatrical.
In the one type of her work, Dekker starts to unravel a building, using the materials that are freed from their former capture in stability to achieve a state of equilibrium. Here, Dekker’s work can be seen as a theatrical condensation of time. The entire time span in which any building will slowly start to fall apart is now caught in a moment, in a delicate state, in a space that we are allowed to visit or enter, but that asks us to be careful – unless we will disturb this equilibrium, or hurt the veil of stability with which we cover our daily selves. What turns these types of work into forms of meditation is the struggle or storm that characterizes the beginning of each process of meditation, the repetitive tearing apart of the veil of enforced stability, and then, perhaps for a very short of time only, the realisation of a state of equilibrium.
In her other type of work Dekker collects materials that she finds on the street or can buy in any retail centre of building materials. She then starts to use these materials as if they were all made of paper, or perhaps better, of cardboard. The materials start to become a theatrical décor that will not encompass or shape, however, the space for an action that will take place within it. Instead these decors are the place and space of action. Hence they loose their status as a décor. Their action reflects on all the places and architectural shapes that human beings like to dwell in or move through, and this reflection shows that buildings, houses, shops, are not fixed matter but shapes that struggle to stay in shape, that are working very hard not to fall apart. This reflection differs from meditation in the sense that reflection is not a matter of condensation and non-action, or acceptation, but of working on something else, trying to uncover something, and in uncovering it altering it.
Whether Dekker’s works concern a theatre of meditation or a theatre of reflection they are never acts of alienation. When Dekker starts to demolish a place this is actually a condensed way of becoming intimate with it. When she builds her theatrical spaces these are spaces that are not so much meant to be looked at, but to get in to. They ask us to become them, but not for the simple reason of becoming them, just as Dekker’s demolition of a space is not pure condensed intimacy. This intimacy is meant to allow for a criticism that doesn’t want tostrive for alternatives. Critical intimacy accepts matters that have become what they have become, yet tries to explore how they could have been slightly different, or can be slightly different.
So, if you succeed in becoming these spaces, and you feel like walls that simultaneously almost fall or almost rise, and if you then automatically tend to hold your breath, please don’t. The work of deconstruction – of critical intimacy – asks you to keep on breathing, like a being in a delicate equilibrium that cannot know what its future will be, yet is not afraid not to know.
By Frans-Willem Korsten
Prof. Dr. Frans-Willem Korsten
Senior University Lecturer, literary studies