Ruth van Beek ( Zaandam, 1977 ) Lives and works in Koog aan de Zaan, The Netherlands. She studied photography at The Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, and graduated in 2002.
Ruth van Beek’s work originates in her ever growing archive. The images, mainly from old photo books, are her tools, source material and context. Van Beek physically intervenes in the pictures. By folding them, cutting them, or adding pieces of painted paper, she rearranges and manipulates the image long enough to reveal the universe that lied within. contrasting elements engage in conversation: the dead past coming to life; the literal and the abstract; the kind of photography that displays emphatically and her covering it up visibly; the limitations and the endless possibilities of an archive.
Her work was shown worldwide in various solo and group exhibitions. Among others: FOMU (BE), ETAL Gallery, (VS), The Ravestijn Gallery (NL), Les rencontres d’Arles (FR), Flowers Gallery (UK) and Fraenkel Gallery (VS) Works have been featured in magazines such as Centerfold Magazine, Foam Magazine, IMA Magazine, The Brittish Journal Of Photography, The Aperture Photobook Review, Financial Times, Elephant Magazine and The NewYork Times. She has published several artist books, in 2017 her book The Cast, was published by NewDocuments in LA. In September 2018 her book “How to do the flowers” came out, co-published by Art Paper Editions from Gent (BE) and Dashwood Books from New York. (VS). Ruth van Beek is represented by The Ravestijn Gallery in Amsterdam.
How to do the flowers, act 1
Making books has always been part of Ruth’s practice. As a natural concequence of the destruction of books to collect material, she makes new books that bring order and context within the artist’s oeuvre. Her latest book is an extensive manual book. Hundreds of images and try-outs for collages come together on the pages in unexpected combinations. They provide the viewer with context for the collages, reveal the underlying work proces and at the same time compose a personal guide for making new work. By focussing on the actions and letting go of the original context, Van Beek stimulates the imagination and with that the inconvenience of the viewer. Passive human hands are animated and become activators of the silent objects. With their touching, pinching and caring they help the viewer in their understanding of the material. Objects become characters and abstract forms come to life.
The title “How to do the flowers” is a reference to the origin of large parts of the archive. Books about housekeeping, books that explain to us how to live, how to do the garden, arrange flowers, or hang the curtains. It is a question and at the same time a restriction. This way and no other way should it be done. A compelling guideline, doomed to be violated and therefore produce failures.
For the exhibition How to do the flowers, Act 1, Ruth uses her latest book as a counselor. In the presentation the walls will be the stage and different images will be brought together. The same risks will be taken as in the artist’s studio. Circumstances are created in which playing, searching, intuition and humour can play the leading role. Levitators come together with dramatic flowerarrangements and houseplants covered with snow. Pink figures dance with flowers and black and white ladies hang from the ceiling like green beans.