The work of Dutch artist and bookmaker Ruth van Beek draws from her ever-growing archive of found source material taken from vintage books and magazines. These photographic images are her tools, providing both the source and initial context for her work. Van Beek physically intervenes in the pictures by folding and cutting them, adding layers of painted paper, and rearranging and manipulating the images to reveal a universe within. Activated through these contextual and physical reconfigurations, her work transforms the archival clippings from silent paper objects to vivid biomorphic actors.

For her site-specific installation at Sapperton Park, van Beek pulls from photographs found in instructional manuals for children’s toys. Here, a set of child’s hands are surrogates for the artist’s own hands, shown animating a collection of abstract painted shapes. Like the hands of a giant, these fingers initiate a playful exchange between the physical and temporal space of the rudimentary toy construction sets in the original photographs and the colourful, faceless characters who now fill the frame of the work.

The Play is curated by Jeff Khonsary for New Documents, which published her book The Cast in 2017.

Presented in partnership with
City of New Westminster’s Public Art Program

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