Homepage Brigitte Dams
Leider unterstützt Ihr Browser keine Stylesheets. Das Design kann leider nicht richtig dargestellt werden.



Necmi Sönmez

On what should still be built. A Dialogue with Brigitte Dams

NS How did your preference for simple, industrially-produced, used materials come about? Are the existing traces of their use important for the concept behind your work?


BD I really like working with these simple, industrially-made materials: Bicycle tubes and fire brigade hoses, belt straps, MDF and the like – these are essentially innocent materials. They have something very pragmatic about them, they serve a purpose, speak a simple language. Most people do not discern any quality in them other than their raw function. And precisely for this reason I consider them materials which offer resistance, materials whose face can be changed almost completely. The traces of their use are part of their history; they were first used in another context, they do not have a sleek exterior, they are awkward, brittle, and go against the rain of what people consider beautiful.


NS Deine Skulpturen, deine großen Collagen, deine Objekte und Installationen basieren oft auf Schichtungen und Überlagerungen, die als Arbeitsmethode wie ein roter Faden deine Arbeiten durchziehen. Wie hast du diese Techniken im Kontext deiner Arbeiten entwickelt?


BD In the early days I focused on painting, and today I still work like a painter, with one layer over the other. Certain parts of a picture are painted over time and again, others remain untouched, and in the end it all merges to form a whole. All the layers of the image exist on the canvas but not all of them are visible yet. I take this approach in my sculptural work as well. What I wish to address is existence in the here and now, disappearance, concealment – and thus metamorphosis. This act of covering things over and concealing them, the simultaneous presence and (partial) absence of surfa- ces, shapes and structures in my sculptures, objects and installations continues this approach, albeit in three dimensions. By correlating the spatial and sculptural aspects I extend the two-dimensional nature of the surface, and likewise of drawings or collage from one-dimensional thought. What interests me are physical presence and (mental) absence, the complexity of subjective sensation, the transformation of things and how they correlate with one another, and they act as the red thread I follow. Layers and superimposed strata are opportunities to show things, or hide them.


NS The joint appearance of physical and abstract structures plays an important role in your recent works. Can one actually speak here of shapes that have an organic sense about them? How important for you is it to incorporate the body’s experience?


BD Unlike painting, all large sculptures are a physical, bodily opposite, something that confronts me in terms of volume, material qualities, composition, and surface. Now that physical presence is something you have to be able to experience physically, be it by walking around it, or viewing it from different angles. In my new works I am focusing on structures, patterns and even ornaments, albeit in the sense of an overarching, supra-ordinate structural principle. Organic structures and networks resemble social structures, they grow and wane. For me that amounts to an image of chaos and order.


NS I’m not sure why, but when I saw your new works I instantly thought of them as psychograms – as a transcript of some psychological processes. To my mind, the black linocut panels and the sculpture with the bike inner tubes look like a nervous tangle of lines. Can you relate to that?


BD The works refer to specific places or social structures in everyday life; they are about the network of interpersonal relationships which in its totality constitutes the world in which we live. Everything is interconnected as if in a network. Villem Flusser once said that “’the notorious self’ can be seen as a node in which various fields intercept, such as the many physical fields with the ecological, psychic and cultural fields.”1 The organic expanding shapes in the black, round linocut panels relate to a study of social structures, of loss and new beginnings, becoming and passing away – and that also holds true for the organizing network-like structures of the rubber tube sculptures. They are an expression of inner and external processes, an expression of disquiet and order. The sculpture itself is untitled, it is very structured. The lines of inner tubes together form a structure, are bundled, caught up with one another. They seek to expand and change the sculpture as did another series of linocuts into which I cut sociograms. The size can vary, they can grow into an expansive installation when placed in another room or constructed for another occasion, meaning that they can essentially adopt several states or shapes.


NS You showed me an interesting collage which is supposed to be a sketch but is somehow much more. How would you describe it?


BD It is an independent work on paper or rather “assembled thoughts” and is made up of various elements. I collect paper and I like to travel. When I’m away I often make small drawings and later, back in the studio, assemble them to form a larger whole. Here, I have superimposed a network-like grid of somehow interwoven lines over the drawn silhouette of shapes of vegetation – partly concealing them, partly exposing them. I made the drawings, captured the content, collected the illustrations in different places and yet they are now part of the collage. Here the line meets pieces of tracing paper of different thicknesses and is positioned next to a huge surface made of gray carton. The white surface of the paper is my “thought space”, and I chose what to place in it, what to flesh it out with. The individual parts of the collage enter into dialogue and nevertheless correspond to surfaces, lines and shapes, woven and nodal structures in the thinking that goes into my installations. The two-dimensional and thus imagelike nature of this space is also like a plan for an installation. They are mementos which contain the seeds of their transformation into three dimensions. You could call them my “work plans”, sketches of what could be built.


1 Vilém Flusser „Die Stadt als Wellental in der Bilderflut“, 1988