2013 Peter Waterschoot, Fluidum
Peter Waterschoot, photographer
Fluidum: Fissures and Gaps and an Open Knot
One fine Friday afternoon I had the pleasure of listening to Tine Guns elucidating on her photo, video and artwork over a bowl of wintery soup. Later on that afternoon, Joseph Beuys kept popping up in the back of my mind… Connecting the legacy of Herr Beuys to the oeuvre of Tine Guns seems highly improbable. But in fact it isn’t. Both share a preference regarding artistic processes and the experience of time. Tine is very preoccupied with both time and vision. To her, time and vision are fragile raw materials which can be brought together in, excuse me for using this word, an alchemistic process. Her seemingly dark aesthetics, as well in her moving and her still images, are the result of an exploration into ephemeral depths of time. She guards conscientiously over it to see that no crystallisation in content nor form would occur.
Such a crystallisation would mean a loss for her. It would render the work obsolete for future use. Everything she shows, in its core as well as in its outsides must stay fluid. Everything is connected. Nothing is isolated, new combinations are always possible, there is always room for chemistry. The oxygen is there. It made me think of Beuys’ installations with butter and plaster, symbolising the fluidum of intuition versus rational and defined thinking. In one of her texts Tine calls this intuitive process ‘rhizomatic’ (a term thought op by Gilles Deleuze). The rhizome, comparable to an arborescent root structure, has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo.’ A notorious Godard quote peeks around the corner; ‘a story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order’. The movement of the rhizome is not chronologically organised but follows natural growth’. Think of green Ivy now, walking on walls as if it were a vegetal centipede, roots and leaves reaching out, instinctively looking for fissures and gaps. These fissures and gaps are e.g. very present in the presentation of Tine Guns’ recent photo work, spreading across the exhibition wall, while carefully constructing hesitating phrases telling a multi-interpretational narrative. Photography could have been a pitfall for this way of working, but Tine Guns does succeed in maintaining the ‘fluidum’ in her photo work. The photo’s are certainly not an ‘end result’. On the contrary, the photo’s are like music-keys or punctuation marks in between an erased text, triggering the spectator’s liberty of mind. The stories are there, but indirect. The stories behind the pictures are resting dormant in the total of her oeuvre. This author succeeds in tying together multiple disciplines. You might metaphorically call her oeuvre an open knot, and moreover, a neatly functioning one.
Perception: Aesthetics and a Tapestry of Life
“The only thing that always will triumph in the end, above everything, is beauty.” — Couperus
The work of Tine Guns cuts in aesthetically. Her work functions in a way that even after you push the pause button the film keeps running. It continues in the back of your mind, a humble hum. Tine Guns presents us gems of joy. But, the subtle aesthetic pleasure she presents us with is enhanced by slumbering force of menace. She is an expert in the use of sound to make this experience even more poignant. I personally find passages in her video work that I myself could watch over and over again in a long-lasting loop. Locking yourself in such a video loop lets you experience a soothing liberty. It is true, in the whole of this body of work, the spectator is free. You do not feel the directors guiding hand. You step into the registration as if you were living it yourself, gazing at details in a gush of emotion. Maybe in a way larger than life, which is the ultimate prerogative of cinema, an art which Tine clearly and fully devotes herself to. The question is not if, but when she will show us her first full feature film.
Her photo as well as her video work is a carrier of deceivingly simple beauty. It does not try to impose. It doesn’t squeeze the subject. It is well aware of the volatility of the moment. Fragile, fleeting moments are cautiously caught. And then there is the use of sound. Well experienced as a VJ she knows how to use a score. Whether she works with music, soundscapes or drones, or even with a precisely aimed absence of sound, it all fits in, and brings the images to the metalevel of emotionalised film perception which is, in fact, at times, very similar to human perception. Thank God(ard), once again, for teaching filmmakers how to cut and paste. Just as in the movies, our personal perception is always scrambled by emotion, bound by the limited movement of the eye, and stocked in memory without any labeling at all. From there on it gets worked and reworked by the mind lifelong. If not lost and forgotten from day one to begin with. Tine Guns video work Memory Blossoms refers explicitly to this human condition. Memory Blossoms consists of fragments of a video diary. It are celluloid memories, pulled apart and spun back together, thus creating a fragrant tapestry of life.
Collecting: The Generalists Gentle Touch
A remarkable piece of book design by the hand of Tine Guns, in collaboration with Anne Fontenelle, is called ‘Silence, le Roi est mort’ – ‘Silence, the King is dead’, in which they have turned (recently) a childhood collection of clippings, into a tricolore threefold booklet using the real pantone colours of the Belgian flag. One colour for each of the three booklets. It is an angled publication with many layers for interpretation. The at that time still ultrayoung Tine made a massive amount of clippings to the occasion of the time of death of King Baudouin of Belgium. The booklet reflects, about 2 decades later, on the mass hysteria and the intense feelings many Belgians had on this departing. To many it must have felt as a goodbye to an era, an era of some kind of innocence maybe. The fact that, at this early age already, Tine collected these clippings so methodically, shows her generalist and objective interest in worldly things, later on to develop, into becoming the artist as which we know her now, still collecting, reflecting, cataloging and displaying… with dash and endeavour.