COLLABORATION 03

Ruth van Beek #1

A Mirror that Reveals
the Face

Visual communication that conveys the world view of D.W.M. through the work of various artists. The third series of artist collaborations was undertaken by Dutch artist Ruth van Beek. Ruth, who creates collage works using old photographs, daily collects and stocks a huge array of clippings from magazines and specialist books. This time, she created artwork based on the theme of skin for D.W.M. The various photographs and books collected by Ruth are arranged in the form of a collage in an atelier’s space and Ruth responded to this interview with great curiosity.

I am always looking for such details and features that
I can use to animate my collage figures.

I heard that you've always wanted to create a work based on the theme of skin. What kind of skin were you interested in?

In my work, I have been inspired a lot by dolls and their appearance in photography. Their skin with red, rosy cheeks are like painted-on feelings, always blushing. This appearance of blushing makes them come to life and animates them. In the printed photography that I collect to make my collage works, a huge part of the attraction for me is in the print itself. In the raster, there are small imperfections and hidden colours. I am always looking for such details and features that I can use to animate my collage figures. I believe it is these details that makes us love them and makes them believable and autonomous creatures or beings. How can I talk about skin in all its variety without actually showing human skin? Can skin be blue? Or maybe even green?

Bare skin tells you a lot about a person's inner nature.

From ancient times, if you look at paintings, you can see that painters have always been enthusiastic about the depiction of the skin. It is the depiction of the skin that makes the subject of the still picture look like a full-blooded person. Also, it is not only the depiction of human skin that is important, but also for the drawing of fruit. Depending on how the fruit’s skin is drawn, the viewer can tell whether the fruit is already ripe or still green. It is something that I am always very aware of when making my collages. The painted layers I add to the photos are at the same time a representation of naked skin, as well as also being a layer that covers the inside and, therefore, hides the object behind.

This time, the visual art created for D.W.M. seems to be fragments of certain images. What kind of work do you see it as?

It has become a series of collages around which I changed my working method this time. I painted and constructed all of the backdrops myself. In this way, I could select the colour combinations very precisely. I choose the range of colours very intuitively, but I am very much inspired by the old photography found in women’s magazines from the 50s and 60s. I particularly love the colours found in the 50s. They seem to reveal a celebration of life, beauty and elegance and this can be found even in the most mundane of everyday objects. I cut out a certain shape and used this frame to search for a range of different faces from my image archive.

It’s a collage with many motifs that look like hand mirrors, isn’t it?

When looking at yourself, you are technically exporting your face in the reflection of a small mirror. It is almost like taking a photo. I like the hand mirror as a tool in itself. Essentially, a handle with a face. I like that shape and started working from this concept. How can I make it stand by itself?. Can I show my archive or photography in the ‘mirror’s’ reflection with the object acting as a face or head?

It's a curious work that doesn't show people even if it's a portrait.

If you take a picture of the folds of a curtain using a hand mirror as the picture frame, you can make the curtain look like hair covering your forehead. In some cases, the photo of a mimosa flower cluster is likened to hair framing the face and the photo of two flower clusters can be likened to the eyes. Suddenly the object becomes not only a small hand mirror reflecting images, but it also reminds one of the small Japanese wooden kokeshi dolls of which I have two standing here on my writing desk. I love their simple form which truly excites me, in how we as humans are able to feel affection for the most simple and modest combination of shapes. It reminds us of the human body. The head on a body or a mirror on handle.

I don't sense the colour scheme of the D.W.M.’s bottle design and skincare items. How does the image of D.W.M. which is as transparent as clear water, connect with your colorful works?

I am a natural colourist. In the first place, there is no specific colour we refer to as ‘skin color’ as it varies from person to person, and I think that is one of the blessings of the many plants that go into forming the D.W.M. skincare items. So, I feel the work and the image of D.W.M. is connected in that respect, right?

Certainly, the cosmetic foundations come in over 50 colours. What was your impression of D.W.M.?

The design of the bottle is simple, but when you open the cap and apply it to your skin, you will be intoxicated by the complexity of the scent. I love the subdued scent which has a rich natural fragrance, but is not at all intrusive. I can't get it in Europe yet, so I'm worried about what to do when I finish using my current stock (laughs).

Cleansing Liquid with Modification <Cleansing Liquid>
140mL

Face Wash with Modification <Face Wash>
140mL

Emulsion with Modification <Emulsion>
140mL

Toner with Modification <Toner>
120mL

Essence with Modification <Essence>
50mL

“mirrors / dolls” @Ruth van Beek

Ruth van Beek

Ruth van Beek (b. 1977) is an artist based in the northern town of Koog aan de Zaan (The Netherlands). She uses the established visual codes of photography. Her work originates from her ever-growing archive. The images, mainly taken from old books are her tools, source material and give her work its context. Van Beek physically intervenes in the pictures by folding and cutting them, or adding pieces of painted paper, she rearranges and manipulates the image in a way that reveals the hidden universe that lies within. Van Beek is represented by The Ravestijn Gallery in Amsterdam.

INTERVIEWER: KANAE HASEGAWA
PHOTOGRAPHER: KOEN HAUSER