Ruth Van Beek’s work originates in her ever-growing archive. Images from old photo books and specialist magazines are her tools, source material and context. By folding, cutting, or adding pieces of painted paper, she rearranges and manipulates them until her interventions reveal the universe that hides within them. She plays with our learned interpretation of visual codes and often makes us smile along the way.
How To Do The Flowers
Art Paper Editions, 484 pages, full colour, 15 x 21 cm.
As you can judge by the cover, hands play a main part in this book. Hands that dig in the earth, that make dolls, that arrange flowers, that cook. Van Beek cuts them from old instruction manuals, adds witty bits of collage and carefully puzzles them into new visual sequences. Merely by suggestion, she triggers the imagination. Human hands start leading a life of their own, objects become odd characters and abstract shapes come to life.
Van Zoetendaal Publishers, 80 pages, full colour, 23 x 16,5 cm.
In her latest book Eldorado, two viewing experiences are combined to reveal something about Van Beek’s way of working. The book starts with a series of screenshots from an online archive of historical advertising material from fruit, vegetable and flower growers in the United States. It exposes how Van Beek observes and collects, visualizing the eagerness and the absolute pleasure of immersing herself in a newly discovered photographic archive. Then it goes on to display some of the playful collages she made with this type of imagery.
(In the pictures of opened books, you’ll find ‘How To Do The Flowers’ on top and ‘Eldorado’ below.)