Marjolein Witte [Eindhoven, 1979] is a Dutch visual artist living and working in Utrecht. She studied Fine Art at the HKU University of the Arts and graduated in 2002. Witte builds, paints, draws and photographs physical and imaginary boundaries, constructions and manipulations. Hereby she explores fundamental human needs such as safety, belonging or mattering and their physical manifestations and possible tensions that arise in relation to the environment. Territorial behavior and the relationship between humans and nature are recurring themes in her work.
Roeland Merks (Scientist, Professor in Mathemathical Biology) at the opening of The Nature of Things (2019).
“We see the theme of framing nature in the photo Climate Correction by Marjolein Witte. It shows a square part of a frozen lake in Finnish Lapland; it is framed by black desert sand. With the title there it becomes almost apocalyptic. Is this the last piece of ice that we will have left? Can we still “correct” the climate? At least not with the black sand that lies here. The dark material frames the ice, perhaps in an attempt to protect it. But here, the framework is a threat. The dark color makes the sun melt the ice faster.
We also personally frame our view when dealing with nature. That illustrates the installation of Marjolein Witte. With scissors she processes the leaves of house plants. She cuts them square, or cuts holes in the leaves. This is how a new plant is created. And that causes inconvenience to the viewer. Or even anger.
But why actually? I find that interesting about this work. Witte controls nature. What is the difference with the gardener who puts the secateurs in the hedge? What is the difference with a Dutch forest? What is the difference at all with a plant in a pot? They are all ways in which we, as humans, control nature. Yet we are familiar with the one, while the unknown scoures.
Witte apparently touches an open nerve here. We seem to feel the inconvenience about dealing with nature only with new, unknown forms of modification. Only then do we wonder whether it is “okay” or ethical. In her work, Witte investigates an interesting fact that is very dear to me as a scientist. Consider public opinion about genetically modified organisms or stem cells. Or think of the resistance to vaccinations.
Yet the result, precisely because of the abrasive discomfort, is beautiful to see.”