Exactly seven years ago – on 12 October 2012 – the exhibition ‘Foam in Van Loon III’ opened at Museum van Loon in Amsterdam. It included the iconic photographs that Daniëlle van Ark took of the hands of well-to-do ladies showcasing their jewelry. One of the promotional posters that were scattered across the city is now part of her second solo exhibition at the gallery. But upon viewing In hindsight (2019), you will notice immediately that the poster has been transformed. The transparent image was framed with the reverse side facing the front, so that the text becomes a mirror image of itself. Visible pieces of colored tape indicate the spots where the image has been stuck onto the slightly discolored background. Just like in earlier work – for which Van Ark used photographs from a newspaper archive, including the painted cropping lines and other notes from the image editors on the press materials, to create autonomous works – she parachutes the past into the present with In hindsight.
Present, past and future form a ménage à trois in the work of Daniëlle van Ark. They are matched and juxtaposed in a continuous play of attraction and repulsion, thus constantly shaping one another anew, as it were. Van Ark has a large collection of widely varied objects and images. That collection – of which she considers her own work to be part – is her archive. Elements from that archive are utilized time and again, in varying combinations, in a cyclical passage of time. In her work Van Ark constructs and deconstructs the present, as well as the past and the future, adhering to the notion of a permanent shift of meanings, and of time as a source of remarkable and uncanny coincidences. The question what constitutes the aura of an image plays a particular role in this. Rather than looking for a finished image, Van Ark employs the archive itself as a dynamic whole.
In his autobiography Speak, Memory, Vladimir Nabokov writes, ‘I confess I do not believe in time. I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another. Let visitors trip. And the highest enjoyment of timelessness―in a landscape selected at random―is when I stand among rare butterflies and their food plants.’ Just like Nabokov, Van Ark seduces and misleads the public with a mixture of fact and fiction. The exhibition is structured as an observatory on which the artist plays a clever game with time. It is also a refuge for the visitor’s imagination. Sketches and source materials merge with more solid forms, as if on their own accord, without any sense of hierarchy. A question then arises: What remains of an exhibition after its closing date? What exactly are the tangible recollections of it? Memorabilia. So let the visitor trip!