Marjolijn van der Meij – Distortions in Nature
The feelings associated with high pressure, angst, bereavement and alienation can often take on a physical dimension. For example, it is not uncommon for people to experience ‘a sinking feeling’ or sense that the ‘walls are closing in’ when they feel dread or claustrophobia. Extreme anger - on the other hand - often reaches its apex in a moment of wanting to screw the world up in a ball, whereas in moments of desperation it may feel as if the world is ‘crashing down’. It is this sensation of a world being reconfigured that Marjolijn van der Meij conveys in her most recent body of work which involves the deformation through folding and crushing of found and drawn portraits and landscape images.
The quasi-sculptural and at points even architectonic feel which is evoked by this formal process conjures a further phenomenon, which points to the ease with which the human can lose their spiritual or ontological grounding and withdraw into the objective physical whole of nature. The three-dimensional forms of the portraits and landscapes which the artist manipulates by roughly crushing or by systematically scoring and folding the pieces underscores the strong physical, emotional and psychic connection between the human and its natural surroundings.
Both the rapid industrialization of the world and the Universe’s fate – which is independent of human reality – serve to cast their cold objectivity onto the human being, which becomes subject to the implosion of material reality. This implosion arguably happens on two counts, as a reflection of the ‘impending’ implosion of the Universe (which will occur some trillions of years from now) and on account of the way in which humanity has become part of a delicate financial machine, which is itself subject to unpredictable natural laws.
The images of houses and woodland particularly evoke the imagery of the psychological horror film in which the fate of the house or locality – haunted by poltergeists or other ghost activity – is entwined with that of its inhabitants. As such the ‘ghost’ – or the ability of objects to take on their own forms – is a metaphor for the impossibility of humanity escaping its origins in nature. This connection between man and nature is a theme further explored in Van der Meij’s Mountain of Blue (2014), an installation comprising two large scale drawings which reference the cult film The Blue Lagoon (1980) in which two stranded cousins grow up together unfettered by the confines of society on an isolated island, following a shipwreck. Mountain of Blue comprises one large scale crumpled charcoal drawing, formed into the shape of a mountain and another collaged piece in which a background resembling a mixture between kitsch wallpaper and natural scenes of vegetation is overlaid with a torn image of the films two protagonists, as if ripped out of their island setting. The image – along with the wider body of work of which it is part – could stand for humanity’s separation from nature and the primordial fear which this then created as humanity confronts a cold Universe, detached from its roots. These themes remain fundamental even in an increasingly technological society and it is tribute to Marolijn van der Meij’s work that they are raised in such a way as to point backwards to the romantic tradition and to Expressionism whilst referencing the visual language of the 21st Century.
"There is no exquisite beauty...without some strangeness in the proportion."
Edgar Allen Poe
In my new work I manipulate and fold paper and drawings into landscape sculptures and installations.
The process of folding and shaping the paper into a new dimension and what remains of this, can lead to experience changes of perception and it can exite feelings of newly formed understanding.