Matadero Madrid center for contemporary creation
The works of Manon de Boer (1966, India) invite us to daydream, to wander through recollections and to connect with the rhythms of our bodies through a dance of characters that the artist places on stage in her filmed portraits of writers, actors, dancers, artists, thinkers and musicians who, in their own, controlled spaces, practise and perform their skills while gradually revealing their temperament in front of the camera. Her interest in the portrait centres, particularly in her recent works, on specific attention to the actions of dancers and musicians, revealing the ability of sound to transform the visual experience in an intense and direct manner.
This approach to sound and to understanding it as both method and subject with the ability to affect our ways of seeing is crystallised in De Boer’s piece Dissonant (2010), in which the dancer Cynthia Loemij improvises from memory Eugène Ysaÿe’s Sonata for Solo Violin No. 2. After the listening, the movements of the dance and a screen that suddenly goes black on three occasions, indicating the moment when the reel of 16-mm film needs to be changed; an action lasting approximately one minute during which we hear this mechanical task being performed, along with the dancer’s rapid breathing. As a result, the limitations of the film support seem to coincide with the limitation of the dancer’s exhausted body, thereby becoming the central theme of the work.
Between the body and language, timbre and the word, the voice is the structural core of her work An Experiment in Leisure (2016-2019), shown in the central space of the room, the title of which is taken from a book by Marion Milner. De Boer asks a number of artists, dancers, actors and art historians to comment on some of the psychoanalyst’s ideas concerning the concept of ‘creativity’ and specifically her defence of creativity as a vital wellspring.
This state of intimate solitude features prominently in Oumi (2019), De Boer’s most recent work and the third part of her trilogy From nothing to something to something else, in which she introduces us to a teenager, Oumi, in a domestic interior space. We observe this single individual as she spends her time inventing percussion and balancing exercises, dancing and singing. The piece draws us into that time which, during our teenage years, seems to expand and grow dense, a time that is boring and spills out beyond the confines of the screen to confront us, as viewers, with our inner world, with our own images and sensations. Without appearing to want to do ‘something’, Oumi presents us with a place of possibilities in which there is an opportunity to do ‘something else’: to dance barefoot and to use a chair as a percussion instrument, and to proclaim the importance of having spaces to let it all out and to give free rein to small, private artistic gestures.
Manon de Boer (1966, India) completed her artistic education at the Akademie Van Beeldende Kunsten, Rotterdam, and at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. Her work has been exhibited internationally, at the Venice Biennial (2007), Berlin Biennial (2008), São Paulo Biennial (2010), Documenta (2012), Taipei Biennial (2016) and has also been included in numerous film festivals in Hong Kong, Marseille, Rotterdam and Vienna. Her work has been the subject of monographic exhibitions at Witte de With in Rotterdam (2008), Frankfurter Kunstverein (2008), South London Gallery (2010), Contemporary Art Museum of St Louis (2011), Museum of Art Philadelphia (2012), Van Abbe Museum, NL (2013), Secession Vienna (2016) and Groundwork, GB (2018) among others. De Boer currently teaches at École de Recherche Graphique in Brussels, where she lives.