Mariken Wessels (b.1963, the Netherlands) creates artist’s books, photo series, film works, sculptures, and installations. Her multilayered projects lean on appropriated imagery and self-produced images to reimagine existing narratives as well as construct new ones. Wessels’ work resonates and fluctuates within both public and private spheres, at times in explicit ways. In Elisabeth – I want to eat, Wessels uses a found a collection of photographs, letters and postcards belonging to an unnamed woman to construct her own interpretation of the woman’s enigmatic narrative, revealing tantilising questions and hinting at answers that are impossible to prove. In Wessels’ most recent work, however, Nude – Arising from the Ground, a series of Eadweard Muybridge collotypes acts as the historical catalyst for Wessels’ distinctly contemporary ceramic sculptures that explore the motion of obese bodies and the animalistic aspects of the human form.
Prior to her visual practice, Wessels studied acting at the Amsterdam Theatre School, and after a decade-long acting career she went on to study visual arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. Wessels’ work has been widely exhibited and has held solo exhibitions at the Fotomuseum Antwerp (2016) and Fotomuseum Den Haag (2017). Wessels has published numerous books, most notably with Taking Off. Henry my Neighbor, published in 2015 with Art Paper Editions to international acclaim. The book was awarded an honorary appreciation at the Leipzig Book Fair (Best Book Design from all over the World, 2016), won the Author Book Award at Les Rencontres d’Arles (2016) and was included in the selection for Best Book Designs from the Netherlands and Flanders (2015). Wessels’ latest book, Miss Cox (Nude – Arising from the Ground), will be published by Fw:Books in 2020.
Wessels’ works and books have been collected by museums, libraries and private collectors worldwide including; Centre Pompidou (Paris), ICP and MoMA (New York), Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Fotomuseum Antwerp (Belgium), and the Verbeke Foundation (Belgium).