Aernout Mik
Holland, 1962
Although Aernout Mik’s academic background and early projects revolved around sculpture, his work acquired an increasingly spatial dimension during the nineties, eventually moving away from sculpture and towards installations containing a video component. His interest lies in reworking the video in its physical dimension—as an element within the space—as well as in its performative aspects. The screens and structures that make up his artworks act as interruptions and obstacles within the space. The architectural elements Mik builds for his installations are an inextricable part of the overall artwork. They connect the visual and tactile aspects of the piece. His work is rooted in how these structures and the spectator interrelate within the space. The fact that the projections in the installations are silent further emphasises the tactility and three-dimensionality of Mik’s work. Visual perception is heightened through the absence of sound, allowing the spectator to see more things at the same time. However, the spectator’s inability to follow the dialogue also produces a sense of estrangement and alienation with regard to what is happening onscreen. In addition, the fact that the videos are shown on a loop—combined with the absence of conventional narrative structures—induces a prevailing sense of unease and uncertainty in the spectator during the viewing of the artist’s work. Mik’s videos show a series of events, which appear to be narrative in nature, but never add up to a story. Neither is any one character given importance over the others: the true protagonist of these videos is the group, the mass of people. The situations depicted in the videos always include a moment of crisis, an outbreak of violence that establishes parallels to potentially real events. They strike the spectator as familiar, recognisable, even though the images do not represent anything that actually happened. This is also true for Pulverous (2003), made up of three videos, along with their corresponding, architectural structures, which show the interior of a warehouse stacked with food products. Several individuals are breaking and emptying the packages on the shelves. The scene is inspired in part by a Native American tradition, a ritual celebration where the host breaks valuable objects as a display of wealth. Although the scene has nothing to do with looting in an urban environment, the spectator cannot help but draw this connection while watching the images. Mik’s work is based on the logistics and mechanisms of seeing as well as on the relationship of bodies moving through space.
Neus Miró