Born 1970 in Castricum, The Netherlands Lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Germaine Kruip’s work brings out both the tensions and connections between formal abstraction and spiritual traditions. With a background in theatre and scenography, Kruip examines techniques of staging such as light, sound, duration and isolation. With a predilection for ephemeral objects such as light or fleeting experiences of time, she turns her artworks into performative agents that provoke a new understanding of space and time and how we move through it.
Kruip’s performance work, A Square, Spoken, 2015, explores her interest in the abstract languages (emotion, order, shape) conveyed in art by geometric forms and the different meanings projected on to them. To create her script for the piece, Kruip has drawn on Chinese proverbs and historical quotes on notions of ‘the square’ by artists (such as the Russian Kazimir Malevich), scientists and historians. As a result, A Square, Spoken re-visits and re-contextualises historical and art-historical shifts in understanding of the square as both a form and a concept and considers the new meanings it has acquired over time.
The significance of this geometric form resonates throughout the Biennale. Facsimiles of sets and costumes designed by Malevich for the Futurist 1913 opera Victory Over the Sun (the designs for which prefigured his iconic painting Black Square on a White Ground, 1915), are on display within the Embassy of Translation. Elsewhere, as part of the Embassy of the Real on Cockatoo Island, Justene Williams riffs on the prevalence of the black square as TV, tablet and phone screen as she re-envisions aspects of Victory Over the Sun, including a performance collaboration with the Sydney Chamber Opera.
Kruip’s work takes place by appointment and is an intimate, one-on-one performance between actor and visitor on the ‘historical expressions of the square’. In this context, Kruip’s script becomes something of a lecture – one that eschews theatricality for an intimate space that encourages the sharing of knowledge.
As Kruip notes in a quote from Baingio Pinna, the Italian professor of experimental psychology who discovered the watercolour effect in 1987, ‘the square, among all known shapes, is a unique and special one. Phenomenally, its singularity, homogeneity, regularity and symmetry are among the strongest of all known shapes. The circle also shows unique properties, but unlike the square it is present in nature.
The square is instead a human invention. It is a pure creation of the human mind.’ That the square has accumulated so many new and varied meanings over the course of art history is important to Kruip, who sees this repetition of a shape or gesture as ritualistic. By revisiting this history, Kruip’s work continues this ritualisation and, as a result, channels viewers into an intense awareness of space and time.
Part of the Embassy of Translation, A Square, Spoken will be presented every weekend throughout the Biennale at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and throughout the week on Cockatoo Island.
Germaine Kruip has exhibited widely, including ‘Geometry of the Scattering’, Oude Kerk, Amsterdam (2015); ‘To the Magician’s Mind’, Galerie Sofie van de Velde, Antwerp (2014); and ‘A Possibility of an Abstraction’, The Approach, London (2012). Recent group collaborations and exhibitions include ‘Le Mouvement: Performing the City’, 12th Swiss Sculpture Exhibition, Biel/Bienne (2014); ‘CLEAR’, Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills (2014); and ‘The Peacock’, Grazer Kunstverein, Graz (2013).