A collaboration between Mariaan van den Berg and Marjolein Witte. A light hearted combination which resulted in a collage-like work with overlapping ideas and designs of both artists. Welcome into the “Colourful Valley of Silliness!“
Nature as an object
At the start of 2019 Mariaan and Marjolein met for the first time. Attracted by each other’s work, the idea arose to start a collaboration project. The original working title was Hortus Futurae. Ideas about the project came about during walks in various Hortuses in the Netherlands. Slowly the gaze of the artists moved from the plants to the system around the plants: The embracement of the greenhouse structure, the controlled lighting, the artificial heat, the water supply, the temperature instruments, the pieces of string, the electrical wiring, and more. The paths in the gardens ensure that people keep their distance from the plants and they are guided through the carefully designed garden with an information sign for every plant. This may have become our ‘connection with nature’. Man ís Nature, but it seems that we distance ourselves further and further from it; from our own physical nature, through body manipulation and in the search for eternal life, and from our natural environment. Nature has become something we look at from a distance. Something that we analyze and summarize in numbers and formulas. Nature has become an object. Nature is our plaything, which we adjust and perfect to our own standards, a thing we place and arrange where and how we please. It has become a fresh breath, the backdrop for our activities and where we seek adventure. Nature has slowly become separated from our lives: We in the city and Nature out there.
Both Mariaan and Marjolein are intrigued by this changing relationship. In their visual work they process nature into man-designed constructions that evoke even more detachment through their use of stylization and materials. Mariaan borrows form and function from nature, which she transforms into sculptures and installations in wood and Perspex. By using Perspex, bright and shining colours and sometimes light, Mariaan turns nature into an attraction. Marjolein is fascinated by the human urge to change nature. The ‘hedge’, for example, is the ultimate embodiment of this urge. A ‘hedge’ is not a plant name, it is a word for a group of plants designed by us for a specific purpose. By presenting these forms as artifacts in paintings, sculptures and installations in simplified shapes, they lose their individuality. The remains are brutal forms, which emphasize the artificiality of what contemporary nature has become.