With As if, Carla Arocha – Stéphane Schraenen offer us the double-edged sword that is a frequent feature of their work. The off-hand nonchalance of the title, now a loaded statement in the popular vernacular, might indicate a certain cynicism or world-weariness; a jaundiced eye cast in the direction of art and its efforts. But, like so many other aspects of their work, this is something of an illusion and an allusion.
The title equally refers to the formal and material nature of their new work itself. Within the work of Arocha – Schraenen, simile and facsimile are often content; the nature of an image and its similarity or distance from the perception of that image. In the works that play with layering and blurring the lines between what is, in reality, a solid surface and what is only a reflection –or the facsimile of a tangible material – Arocha – Schraenen join the dotted lines between Modernism’s approach to something nearing an abstracted form of representation and the age old mimetic thrust of art drawing upon observations of the world around us.
In As if this intersection between science and art’s mimetic drives is once again foregrounded. Each work is actually a moiré of one form or another, whether manifesting as a sculpture or photographic work. Most immediately associated with textiles, a moiré is also a scientific phenomenon: an interference created when two grids are superimposed at an angle or where their mesh sizes differ. The nature of the moiré phenomenon connects textile traditions with the photographic and reprographic process and naturally lies within Arocha – Schraenen’s explorations of how images are constructed. In this particular case, their interest examines how moirés manifest in static objects transmute into a perception of movement. Yet, the works also conversely evoke a sense of scientifically explained moirés that occur when an image-making device – for example a television camera- attempts to transmit an image of certain patterned static objects due to the sampling limitations of the medium itself. Just as an image may prove illusory, these works remind us more specifically that one way in which an image might prove to be different from its perception is in terms of movement. Exactly what is moving and what is still within each situation?
– Text excerpted from essay by Ken Pratt
Carla Arocha (Venezuelan, born Caracas 1961, lives Antwerp, Belgium) and Stéphane Schraenen (Belgian, born 1971, lives Antwerp, Belgium) began collaborating publically in 2007 with their exhibition Mauraders at moniquemeloche. Previously, Arocha has had solo exhibitions at moniquemeloche in 2004 and 2001. In 2009 Carla Arocha – Stéphane Schraenen permanently installed the City of Chicago commissioned artwork 24/7 at the CTA’s Red Line Howard Station. The artists have had solo exhibitions at the FRAC Auvergne in Clermont-Ferrand, France, the Kunsthalle Bern in Switzerland, and the MUHKA in Antwerp, Belgium and have work in a number of prestigious institutions including the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; the F.R.A.C. Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, France; the Fundación Banco Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Modern Art, NY; the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (MUHKA), Antwerp, Belgium; and the Stiftung, Bern, Switzerland.