The Importance of the Composed Domain - Esmé Valk

The Importance of the Composed Domain

Installation specially made for the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen, 2012. It includes artworks from the collection, works on loan, the text Living Space of Everything Possible and a performance.

The Importance of the Composed Domain takes as its starting point a series of photographs of Cobra artist Eugène Brands made by ethnography specialist and photographer Frits Lemaire just after WWII. Brands is seen wearing outrageous self-made masks against the backdrop of his own interior, using twigs and a sisal carpet as props.

The installation is a reinterpretation of the methods of staging as employed by Brands in his home, this time using the furniture and artworks of the museum as elements to create a stage-like setting.

It includes works by Brands such as drawings he had made of his home depicting three assemblages shown as a slide projection and photographs he had taken of three of his early paintings. Displayed inside a grouping of plexiglass boxes are five sculptures; an ancestral figurine and a mystical sculpture from New Guinea, a beaded mask that belonged to the private collection of Eugène Brands, one of his self-made masks and the Little Nail Man by Karel Appel that is based on African fetish sculptures.

In the corner of the space Anton Rooskens painting Les Gens du Soleil is placed in a similar manner to how Brands had positioned his paintings when he documented them; with one edge of the work leaning against the wall while the other is standing free.

The text Living Space of Everything Possible, that is part of this work, describes a personal take on Brands’ relation with his interior and the role it played in an occupied Netherlands.

This installation has been made possible with the generous support of Stichting Eugène Brands, the Cobra Museum and the Tropenmuseum.