The Ravestijn gallery proudly presented “New Arrangements”, an exhibition of Ruth van Beek’s kinetic photographic collages. Van Beek combines everyday, found photographs with paint, cutting or folding to inspire a unique dialogue between image and object.
Collage is central to van Beek’s work, transforming her appropriated photographic images into a newly tactile object, both concrete and illusory. The works form a tension between what the viewer readily sees and what appears to hide in plain sight. By introducing an additional overlay to photographic work (usually painted paper cut-outs), van Beek highlights the tangible qualities, seemingly inherent, in these small compositions. A conversation begins between the multiple materials in each composition as van Beek’s interventions with color and form create new life and new movement.
Ruth Van Beek’s work follows in a rich tradition of collage that seized, in part, on photography’s ability to both represent and distort the reality of an image. With roots in Dadaism and early twentieth century political critique, collage questioned what constituted an image and how new meaning could be created or arrested from the stuff of popular culture and everyday life - magazines, newspapers, advertisements, ticket stubs, propaganda. By interrogating existing materials artists demonstrated the powerful ability to reorient our trust in the image and therefore the world around us.
Contemporary examples of collage combine materials and vantage points to push the boundaries of photography. Van Beek’s collage has continued to mix photographic elements with a humorous and more profound investigation of the ways we look. Because the artist’s underlying images - ornamental potted plants in The Arrangement (2012) for instance - are never completely discernable to the viewer, van Beek is free to play with the viewer’s associations or imagination.
Like her collage predecessors, van Beek looks to the social life of people and things, collecting images from flea market books on a range of quotidian topics to create a sense of what an image once was and the object it might become.
Ruth van Beek (b. 1977) graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in 2002 with a master’s degree in photography. She has exhibited most recently at Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco and Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles. Her photobook The Arrangement was published in 2013 and is now short-listed for the 2014 Photobook Awards / Photobook of the Year. This was van Beek’s first solo exhibition at The Ravestijn Gallery.