For Probe#1, we invited Peggy Franck. She began by building an installation within the confines of the small space at our studio, which she documented subsequently.
Reproductions (large prints) of the first installation were used as a basis for a second installation in Probe at the Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, where Probe was on display during the manifestation Made In Arnhem INVITES. The registration of the installation as a whole took place at the museum. After completion we asked Peggy to describe some of the experiences she had with a quarter scale exhibition space.
What is the difference between working in Probe and working in a life size exhibition space?
PF: In my studio I construct sets with objects and materials such as tape, paper, plastics and paint. Through spatial abstraction and theatrical lighting –causing shadows and reflections– I try to create an atmosphere that brings all these elements together. Then I choose several frames and take photographs. From these pictures other works are derived. Photo-objects, paintings and partial installations, together they make an entire installation.
When making an exhibition I start with a scale model of the exhibition space in which I move around miniature versions of the prints or models I wish to display. I only start working on the actual installations when I can start working in the exhibition space. In this rather intuitive process I take the space like it’s a sheet of paper. Objects become shapes. Materials like tape, brass and laths become lines. For Probe I decided to not deviate from my usual working process. Only this time I started making arrangements and taking pictures inside of Probe as a start. So Probe became my studio first. This is normally not the case with other project spaces where I have only a couple of days or a week utmost to work in the actual space. Technically the small space of Probe made it easier for me to work in a direct and intuitive way. It was very pleasant to build up an exhibition without running into obstacles or having to invent difficult constructions to eventually get to a result of the same character.
What did you want to create in Probe?
PF: In my work, or in my installations or exhibitions, I began to more and more overlap the whole space. It went from pictures on the wall to objects, to installations against the wall, to floor filling installations. Probe gave me the possibility to create a ‘ceiling work’, which is a new step for me. And it has been my wish for some time to experiment with different lighting in my installations. Light or the atmosphere I create through light, plays an important role in my photography. The ceiling work is built up with transparent color filters and plastics. Above the ceiling we made a light-construction. The light construction together with the ceiling made it possible to experiment with different light situations. Underneath, inside Probe, I made arrangements and made photographs. When I took the photos I also included parts of the ceiling. The work as a whole sort of derived from that ceiling. Normally it starts the other way around: from the floor or from the ground. Now it started form the air. This is a new element for me I’d like to work with more in the future. So the exhibition displays many objects and a ceiling together with large prints of the photographs. Also the lighting plays a significant part in the entire installation. The exhibitionspace and the controllable adaptable accommodating size of it, gave me the opportunity to surround the viewer by this mental world that I constructed.
What obstacles did you run into?
PF: It’s a whole different experience to work in a quarter scaled situation. Not so much for the photos because I always look into the negatives before I decide at what size they should be printed.
But it was more difficult to think about the installations. I make installations because I find the physical experience of the spectator very important. The viewer or spectator stands inside the installation. The eye is drawn from color to shape, from familiar objects to abstraction, from fragments to its entirety. I’d like to think that this is how a work can develop inside the viewer’s minds, when they’re able to walk around it and watch it from many different angles. The space they walk through represents a world that I’ve constructed. So it’s not only a two dimensional presentation of my imagination.
Of course this is not actually the case with probe as it is too small to walk around. The presentation of its registration is to give a real life impression. This idea was confusing. To create something and at the same time think about how it would work in a real situation was rather complex to me. Especially because I already play with the idea of spatial illusion in my work. I like to provoke some kind of confusion about what is displayed.
While working on probe this confusion hit me straight away. Probe is big enough you can actually move around and work on your knees. So there I was, all of a sudden in this installation, completely surrounded and trying to imagine it being 4 times bigger. To relate to this feeling it was really nice and interesting to read Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland again.
A work by Peggy, created for Probe