22 September 2012 – 6 January 2013
Liquid skin foundation, nails, wine, sugar and ink: these are the materials that Amie Dicke (b. 1978) uses to mask, distort, pierce, coat, burn away, subvert and comment on the real world. Her scissored fashion photos, installations involving living rooms shrouded in plastic, foundation or ash, and found images with added human hair show a way to escape from the suffocating world of the aesthetic, but are also highly charged: beauty gives way to physical decay and swathing a living room in plastic is a way of preserving life a little longer. Existing objects and images gradually find their way into her studio, where they become the raw material of an artist who is interested not only in deep-seated individual human emotions like shame, fear and aggression, but also in collective experience: the history of a particular place, people’s memories of it – the Nabeeld (Afterimage). This autumn the GEM, museum of contemporary art in The Hague presents Amie Dicke’s first ever solo show in any museum in the Netherlands.
When Amie Dicke graduated from the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, her career took off immediately. She became instantly famous for her cut-out versions of fashion photos taken from glossy magazines. Dicke strips the top models shown in these photos of their clothing and even of their skin and eyes, reducing them to gaunt black-veined figures devoid of all their original beauty and brilliance. She has taken this approach even further, for example blurring photos of fashion models by sanding the paper to produce faded ‘ghost images’ of the people concerned. In another work she drove countless nails into the cover of a copy of Vogue – an aggressive act designed perhaps to attack the ideal of physical beauty, or perhaps to suggest an escape from the inevitability of femininity. In terms of subject matter, Dicke appears to owe much to those great twentieth-century artists who concerned themselves with human doubts and fears and the search for identity, of whom Louise Bourgeois is a prime example.
Recently, Amie Dicke has begun to concentrate on the history of particular locations. These new works are based on the idea that events and memories linger on in such places. For example, the space at the GEM previously occupied by the paintings of Robert Zandvliet will play a role in the forthcoming exhibition. Where does the act of viewing an object end and where does the memory of it begin? These are topics that also figure in the philosophy of Henri-Louis Bergson (1859-1941), whose writings are a source of inspiration for Dicke. As is the idea of the ‘afterimage’: the image that lingers in your vision when you look away from an original object.
In earlier works, Amie Dicke shrouded various interiors with transparent plastic and tape, leaving only a vague impression of what was once a living place; the plastic wrappings are like a death mask, putting a final period to life. In her show at the GEM, Dicke goes a step further. For the main gallery, she has designed a monumental pond: a mirror image of the Berlage pond in front of the Gemeentemuseum. It is a pool full of memories, including images derived from the history of the Gemeentemuseum, and is intended as a way of integrating the rich history of the Berlage building into the far more recent premises of the GEM. But the pond will also feature other images, such as photos of earthquakes and other natural disasters taken from the artist’s personal picture archive. It will be a sort of horizontal painting in which the past and present of the place merge together to form an Nabeeld (Afterimage).
This exhibition is sponsored by the Mondrian Fund.
Note to editors: