"I always have an eye on garbage lying in the street"

Carolien Adriaansche, artist-in-residence
By Inger Stokkink

Carolien Adriaansche,  Collection Aarhus C , 2017. Site-specific installation,  Rethinking MATTER: Biotic Synthetic.

Carolien Adriaansche, Collection Aarhus C, 2017. Site-specific installation, Rethinking MATTER: Biotic Synthetic.

Creating biodiversity all by itself from a material that threatens real-life biodiversity - that is what struck curator Pamela Grombacher when she came across Carolien Adriaansche's work. Therefore she and her fellow-curators Sasha Rose Richter and Nana Bendix Hansen decided to invite Adriaansche as their artist-in-residence. Says Grombacher: "Her work dovetails nicely with our Aarhus2017 project Rethinking MATTER, and fits perfectly in the framework of our exhibition Biotic Synthetic." Biotic Synthetic explores the nature/culture dichotomy in the range of exhibitions about rethinking matter - the stuff most visual art is made of.

Plastic is such a matter, and it is the material that Carolien Adriaansche (1963) works with most. "Plastic is inescapable in our society, we use it massively - and we mostly use it just once. Then it becomes waste." Being in essence a nature person, it struck her painfully that waste plastic posed a threat to animal and vegetal life. So she decided to create a parallel biodiversity, making use of the matter that threatens life on our planet.

The result is a rich, manifold, colourful collection of creatures, more often than not exhibited in showcases resembling the ones you'll find in natural history museums. This is a recurrent theme in her work, originating from family holidays, where a visit to the Natural History Museum of Bordeaux made a lasting impression on her: "I was overwhelmed by the shapes and colours and the way the objects were arranged."

The work she has made for Rethinking MATTER is exemplary for the collection theme. It shows families of sea creatures in all shapes, exhibited in showcases stretching four meters up the walls of Godsbanen's Foyer.

During her artist's talk at Godsbanen on May 4th, Carolien Adriaansche also discussed how her work comes into being. "My atelier in The Hague is stacked with plastics in all shapes and colours. I have a plastic obsession, I always have an eye on garbage lying in the street. And I use a lot of plastic - in fact more than I can gather myself. Over the years I have built up a network of people who collect special objects for me, like the lamps that I used for The Swarm. But there are also people who collect plastic 'in general', so to speak. This means that occasionally I get materials I normally wouldn't have chosen myself. But that challenges my creativity in a good way."

In Aarhus, she needed to gather her working materials quickly. Rethinking MATTER helped by collecting plastics, too, so that Adriaansche had a head start when she arrived. "There is comparatively little waste lying about in Aarhus. That made me explore building sites and skips. So the material I have used for this work is somewhat different from the plastics I usually work with."

Just like you would expect from a sustainable biodiversity: its capacity to adapt to its surroundings.