Schipbreukeling – Mathieu Charles
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Jennifer Tee

Respire, the world begins with trees

Tee’s sculpture and performance explore the symbiotic network that plants and trees use to communicate and grow, and how this interactive ‘colony’ model offers both a paradigm for considering movement and migration of people in Arnhem. The tree of life motif in the sculpture refers to the fractal geometry of plant structures, wherein similar patterns appear on both micro and macro levels. This image is also present in Tee’s work with ritualistic Indonesian Tampan and Palepai textiles, connecting to ancestral roots, the tree of knowledge, and the ‘cosmic’ tree. The clay for the bricks that compose the integrated sculpture was sourced from a variety of locations, imbuing the bricks with different colours and textures. The leaf prints that adorn some of the bricks are from local foliage found in Park Sonsbeek.

Recent research has found that trees are endowed with sensitivity, memory capacities and communication skills. Although a tree’s body looks nothing like an animal’s and they lack specialised organs, they nonetheless exhibit organized behaviour and their own unique intelligence. For Tee, this provides a cognitive model for rethinking the reciprocal relationship between nonhuman and human, and a community and world that is inclusive of all living beings. Here, forests can be seen as a political model for the reciprocal co-existence of nonhuman and human living beings.

Tee pairs the sculpture with another work, a textile banner hanging over the water. The banner is made with recycled PET material and printed with collages made from leaves and branches from the park which Tee collected and dried over two years. Interrupting these natural, seasonal images are colored blocks which mark the unexpected and unpredictable periods of the pandemic lockdown, and the moods and emotions associated with them.

Alongside the tree of life sculpture, a durational group performance will be developed together with dancer and choreographer Marjolein Vogels, in which the growth structure and the sensitivities of trees will be explored.

Jennifer Tee’s (1973) works comprise sculpture, installation, performance, photography, and collages, all with a wide-ranging underlying frame of reference. Of central importance is Tee’s interest in the in-between state of what she calls “the soul in limbo”. The soul in limbo is restless and alive, and caught in an unnamed place--a conceptual, mental, psychological, and physical space--on the border between the here and the possible. With her work, she encourages the contemplation of life’s fragile connections, evoking spiritual realms with active material experimentation.

Tee was a resident artist at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunst, Amsterdam and ISCP, New York and in 2020 was awarded the Amsterdam Prize. Recent solo exhibitions include: DRIFT, multilingual performance choreography, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 2020; Let it Come Down, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn and Camden Arts Centre, London (2018–19); Ether Plane ~ Material Plane, ISCP, New York, 2018, Occult Geometry, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, 2014. Her work has appeared in group shows and biennials including: 16th Istanbul Biennial, 1019; 33rd Bienale de São Paulo, 2018; Manifesta 11, Zürich, 2016.

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