The artist duo Carla Arocha and Stéphane Schraenen work and live in Antwerp, Belgium, and exhibit internationally. In the broadly defined field of art objects, their work can be described as intermedial, post-modernist in aesthetics and ambiental in display. For their presentation in Split they have proposed the Neo-Pop Art series of chairs and table made of steel covered with mirrors. The table and chairs are installed on a patch of lawn in the Museum’s atrium, simulating the aftermath of an violent event that turned them upside down and scattered them around the space. Thanks to their mirrored surface, the objects reflect their immediate environment: the sky, museum architecture, the atrium’s plants, daytime and weather changes, thus creating a sort of visual and temporal collage.
Formally and contextually, The Aftermath saturates the viewers’ associative and mental field creating a semantic puzzle that opens multiple, perhaps indefinite, interpretative directions. Of course, the outcome depends on the viewer because just like beauty, as the saying goes, is in the eye of the beholder, the same could be said of the interpretation and meaning that are formed within the viewer’s cognitive structure and imaginative capacity. Arocha and Schraenen place before us a generic type of chairs and table, but like in the famous paintings of their compatriot René Magritte, these are not a table and chairs. These are primarily sculptures that the artists created and imagined to be positioned on their sides, turned upside down, etc. so that their set up in collision with the exhibition space would create the desired ambiental charge. Furthermore, there is a message that arises from the dialectical collision between the form of a utilitarian objects and their meaning as essentially non-functional art objects. In addition, their form, appropriated in the Pop Art mannerism, is dematerialized with mirrored surfaces and reflections that make it blend with the surroundings. This effect was otherwise very popular in furniture making during the Art Deco period before World War II. Here, the intention is far from decorative, the artists aim to deceive the observers’ senses and awaken their cognitive apparatus. Further indication of interpretative direction is the arrangement of objects in space. We find them scattered in a spatial disposition that suggests the consequence of a violent event. With this concept, the artists introduced an aura of the performative act into the static medium of sculpture, whose echo would continue to vibrate throughout the atrium. During the three months long exhibition span, objects will accumulate reflections of every change of light and weather, plant growth, dynamics of the audience passing and events that will take place in the atrium.
A possible interpretation: while The Aftermath installation reflects everyday life, its connotations are actually inverse. The Aftermath as a metaphor of the fragmented, disrupted, and wrecked world, points to the consequences of our everyday deeds.
Venezuelan, born Caracas, 1961, lives Antwerp, Belgium1994 MFA, University of Illinois at Chicago
1991 BFA, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
1986 BS, St. Xavier University, Chicago
STÉPHANE SCHRAENEN Belgian, born Antwerp, 1971, lives Antwerp, Belgium
1996 Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp
1992 Communication Management at the Higher Institute for Communication Management of the Province of Antwerp
On view till 15 September, 2019