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Duo show ‘Beyond the pale’, at Artspace Fontrodona Amsterdam

For ‘Beyond the pale’, architect Jack Chen (Finesse Architecture) and artist Marianne Lammersen produced sculptural works in tandem that interrogate our human tendency to follow paths and conventions towards ‘successful’ conclusions. They question whether these grids, networks and norms – our own inventions – always lead to human progress, and ask the viewer to wander away from predictable paths, perhaps to stumble upon wonders they never suspected, and be surprised by what lies outside the grid… beyond the pale.


‘Beyond the pale’
An exhibition by Marianne Lammersen and Finesse Architecture (Jack S.C.Chen)

Society functions or it doesn’t when people follow rules or break them.

A name serves to define a thing and make it familiar, bring it into the scope of our expectations and domesticate it. So we name dogs.

Numbers allow us to measure and place objects in scale. With numbers, we can count. And we can gauge difference.

In our times of great change and growth, when the world seems to be spinning faster than ever and cities, populations, ideas burgeon at a dizzying pace, people look to the familiar and the certain to reassure them and keep them safe. They establish communities of the like-minded, post their intimate lives on social networks (making confidantes out of strangers) and look to technology and structure to pull sense out of chaos.

Marianne Lammersen and Jack Chen seek to codify some of these phenomena in their work – the phenomena of boundary-making, definition, restriction and networking – in order to better understand the role these play in the creation of the modern dysfunctional psyche. In their language of form both artists embed their particular systems and logic that carry through from concept to the realization of the work for the spectator to unearth. The discovery process is designed towards an inevitable moment of rupture, when expectations or desires fail and new directions or possibilities stand revealed: surprising, unexpected possibilities that allow the viewer to escape from the conventional, asking new questions and posing new responses.

Jack Chen is trained as an architect. He is used to thinking in ratios, distances, frameworks and rigid constructs. Though rules and regulation may be his jumping-off point, he is fascinated by the failures of definition and restriction, the spaces or gaps where representation breaks down. He seeks to explore the space of movement between ideas and their representation in the physical world: he is, he says, in pursuit of the real.

Marianne Lammersen is a visual artist, intrigued by the tension between technological development and the maintenance and preservation of human identity. She questions whether technological development is always human development. “Yes, we can create instruments/machines to do nearly everything for us, but how do we then hold onto the small things that are still so necessary for our humanity?”. Her work reveals a longing for a world the human body can relate to, a world in equipoise. But in searching for balance, she does not presume that she will find it. Rather, her challenge is to trace the friction of imbalance and to render that visible and sensible in her work. Viewers are left to question their positions in the fluid changes that swirl about them.

This exhibition is the result of an experimental collaboration between the two artists.
Chen and Lammersen propose that many of the social codes and regulations we create become effective forms of restrictions that limit the potential of human life and experience, and ask that, rather than live within these limitations, spectators might consider what lies further out: beyond the pale but perhaps closer to our roots.
They suggest that dreamscapes and the dimming of bright lines of demarcation might serve as keys to lives that are more attuned to a natural Sublime. With this show, Lammersen and Chen stray from the path to question our subordination to the very codes and conventions we have created for the sake of progress. They inquire of the viewer: with all our systems and calculated schemes of measurement, have we somehow missed the point?

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