artist / participant
venue: Sint Annatunnel, Antwerp
Nina Beier does not stop digesting. “Altogether, Four Stomachs is a machine,” yet in 2014, Beier’s four-year exhibition becomes an entanglement of concentric machines. And she’s opening the third of her four “stomachs” far wider.
Beier spent 2012 defacing a series of bronze, plastic, ceramic, and fiberglass busts and positioning this growing population of Facing Figures above, within the residential windows of our neighbors. A bust is always born disfigured—limbless, partial, abstracted. Beier disfigured them further, and stripped them of their histories.
“Cows have four stomachs and forget their past, almost before it has passed.” And in 2013, Beier pushed her eyeless sentinels out to pasture, and dispatched a rather different herd to sartorially squat an even more private residence. Vertically oriented, human-scaled, these seven overstuffed Portrait Mode frames sealed discarded animal-printed apparel behind glass—and all of it behind the lock and key of a gatekeeper she contracted to domesticate the lot “by invitation only.”
Now it’s 2014, and Beier will be inserting a shifting array of full-color posters into the year, at intervals choreographed by access and availability. These posters will rotate through the many staggered advertising frames flanking the escalators on either side of the Sint-Annatunnel—a 1930s subaquatic pedestrian tunnel beneath a river in Antwerp.
Beier assumed the photographic language of royalty-free image-banks. These online troves are filled with ambiguous, yet suggestive, imagery—empty metaphors created for uses unknown to their authors. Uploaded into this cyclical, cannibalistic system, their clichés detach from any particular reference. Here, how an image is advanced in complexity by other stock-photographers—that is, how the essence of a given motif is copied and warped—is key.
Absurdly parroting and exaggerating a familiar motif, then inserting it into a seemingly fitting context, Beier drowns her images. Subjected, intention falls away. All options become permissible, plausible—valid. And interpretation is inscription.
From 6 March—31 December 2014, Four Stomachs is open to the public free of charge until 8pm, daily.
Nina Beier (b. Aarhus, Denmark, 1975; Lives in Berlin) graduated from the Royal College of Arts, London (2004). Beginning in 2012, her solo exhibition will continue until 2016 at Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp; and her work has recently been the subject of solo exhibitions at Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland (2014); Mostyn, Wales (2013-14); Nottingham Contemporary (2013-14); Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City (2013); and Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2011-12); as well as in group exhibitions at Centre Pompidou, Paris (2014, 2013); Casino Luxembourg (2014); Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow (2014); Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2013-14); Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (2013-14); Jakarta Biennial (2013); Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2013); Moseion Bozen, Bolzano (2012); The Artist’s Institute, New York (2012); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2012); Index, Stockholm (2012); Tate Modern, London (2012); Moca, Miami (2011); Extra City, Antwerp (2011); and The Swiss Institute, New York (2011); among many others.
Objectif Exhibitions would like to thank CM Antwerpen, Gemeente Zwijndrecht, Kleuter- en lagere school Apenstaartjes, and Stad Antwerpen for making this project possible.
Nina Beier does not complete exhibitions. If parenthetically corralled, “(but so does Beier)” was not an afterthought dropped into last year’s text, but a signal foreshadowing this year’s transition from one stomach to another. Preceding a full stop, the () suggested an ellipsis leading to an even tauter entanglement of public/private.
“Cows have four stomachs and forget their past, almost before it has passed.” Yet one year later, Nina Beier’s Four Stomachs remains a machine, and Beier still prods the parameters. Methodically disfigured, those dozen eyeless sentinels performed their public service, and Beier has pushed them out to pasture.
They’ve been replaced by seven large works from Beier’s Portrait Mode series. Vertically oriented, human-scaled, Beier has arranged for this line of frames—bulging and overstuffed with discarded animal-printed apparel she sealed, this time, behind less reflective, more protective, glass—to sartorially squat the director’s private residence. Resembling the most haunted of trophies, this stable of compressed skeuomorphic garments is tended by a gatekeeper contracted to live within a growing series of questions—economic, aesthetic, conceptual, professional and, as so few will ever see, domestic.
Four Stomachs is now by invitation only.
Objectif Exhibitions would like to thank Croy Nielsen, Berlin, and Laura Bartlett Gallery, London, for supporting this exhibition.
Nina Beier does not complete works. They remain subject to re-use, re-titling, re-articulation, and reanimation. With Four Stomachs, Beier defaces a series of busts (bronze portraits, plastic mannequins, ceramic figurative folk art), and positions them in the residential windows above Objectif Exhibitions.
Cows have four stomachs and forget their past, almost before it has passed. A bust is always born disfigured—limbless, partial, abstracted. Beier disfigures them further, and strips them of their histories.
Placing the flattened faceless fronts of the figures flush against the window glass, Beier symbolically seals their exposed inner surfaces—containers contained. Observing like eyeless sentinels or debilitated gargoyles, they too will be watched—fixed in place, or periodically shifting locations—over the next four years.
Altogether, Four Stomachs is a machine. Sentient, it reserves the right to restart itself at any moment, or to halt completely (but so does Beier).
Objectif Exhibitions would like to thank its neighbours for making this exhibition possible.