BUILDED REMNANTS: Berndnaut Smilde
       
     
'Nimbus Powerstation', Berndnaut Smilde, 2017
       
     
'Nimbus Karijini', Berndnaut Smilde, 2017
       
     
'Nimbus Roebourne', Berndnaut Smilde, 2017
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' exhibition launch
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' exhibition launch
       
     
'Breaking Light: Cape Leeuwin' (partial view of installation), Berndnaut Smilde, 2016
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' installation view
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' installation view
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' installation view
       
     
'Breaking Light: Cape Leeuwin', Berndnaut Smilde, 2016
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' artist and curator's tour of exhibition
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' artist and curator's tour of exhibition
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' artist and curator's tour of exhibition
       
     
BUILDED REMNANTS: Berndnaut Smilde
       
     
BUILDED REMNANTS: Berndnaut Smilde

Curated for FORM. 

Netherlands-based Berndnaut Smilde (born 1978) is interested in how we experience the world around us. Drawing inspiration from his daily surroundings, his work explores our relationship to built and natural environments, often toying with his viewers’ perceptions of inside/outside, or the scale or function of built spaces. Many of his artworks are the documentation of temporary interventions into buildings or landscapes, capturing fleeting moments of sublime beauty.

Smilde undertook a residency with Western Australian arts organisation FORM in 2016, his first visit to the Australian continent. He and his studio assistant, German artist Annegret Kellner, spent a month in Western Australia from November-December 2016, based in Perth, but travelling extensively throughout the State. During this time Smilde produced a new series of his iconic Nimbus cloud images in evocative metropolitan locations, and in the remote Pilbara. This included his first outdoor Nimbus works, in Karijini National Park, and the red dirt landscape outside of Roebourne. Smilde also travelled to the State’s South West region and created an experimental rainbow work at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, on a site first mapped by the Dutch several centuries ago.

In July 2017, the exhibition BUILDED REMNANTS opened at The Goods Shed, FORM’s exhibition and project space in Claremont, Western Australia. The exhibition presented the outcomes of his 2016 residency, and was Smilde’s first solo exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere.

Image: Smilde working outside Roebourne in the Pilbara, December, 2016. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, c/o FORM.

 

'Nimbus Powerstation', Berndnaut Smilde, 2017
       
     
'Nimbus Powerstation', Berndnaut Smilde, 2017

The Nimbus series documents fleeting moments of presence in a number of otherwise-empty locations. Smilde selects sites that have memorable architectural features, or that speak of a former use. Frequently they are buildings now used as exhibition spaces. 

Smilde is primarily interested in the temporary aspect of the work. His clouds only exist for a few seconds in each site before they dissipate. This physical presence is significant, but the work in the end exists only as a photograph, a document of something that occurred at a specific place, and is now gone.

Humans have always had a strong metaphysical connection to clouds, and have historically projected a variety of meanings onto them. Located between the heavens and the earth, they have been associated with the divine in multiple religions since classical antiquity, and were particularly favoured as subjects by Renaissance and Romantic artists to signify the sublime forces of the spiritual and natural worlds. Hence, the Nimbus works can be variously interpreted as signifying wonder or threat, loss or becoming, a warning, a haunting, or a moment of revelation. 

The Nimbus works make obvious reference to the brooding clouds ubiquitous to historical Dutch landscape paintings. However, in situating his clouds indoors the works can also be read as Smilde’s response to the interior genre paintings which also proliferated during the ‘Dutch Golden Age’ of the 17th Century. Stripped of the middle-class figures and everyday clutter that characterised that genre, his Nimbus images are hauntingly deserted, surreal and uncanny.

 

Nimbus Powerstation, Berndnaut Smilde, inject on photo paper, mounted on dibond, 123 x 176 cm, 2017. Edition of 6 + 2 AP. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, c/o FORM, the artist and Ronchini Gallery.

'Nimbus Karijini', Berndnaut Smilde, 2017
       
     
'Nimbus Karijini', Berndnaut Smilde, 2017

Smilde created four new Nimbus works in Western Australia. In metropolitan Perth he worked at the East Perth Power Station and Midland Railway Workshops, two of the State’s most significant former industrial sites. In the Pilbara he created his first outdoors Nimbus photographs in two contrasting remote locations.

In Karijini National Park the impressive geology of Joffre Gorge provided a context that the artist found reminiscent of a Baroque cathedral in its excessive detail. The production team had to carry the equipment necessary to create the work - including a generator and petrol - down the steep sides of the gorge in a scene reminiscent of colonial expeditions.  

 

Nimbus Karijini, Berndnaut Smilde, inject on photo paper, mounted on dibond, 123 x 177 cm, 2017. Edition of 6 + 2 AP. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, c/o FORM, the artist and Ronchini Gallery.

'Nimbus Roebourne', Berndnaut Smilde, 2017
       
     
'Nimbus Roebourne', Berndnaut Smilde, 2017

Shot at dawn along the highway between Roebourne and Whim Creek, Nimbus Roebourne contrasts with the Karijini image in its sparseness. The work was conceived in response to Smilde’s first cloud photograph, Nimbus – Probe (2010). Nimbus – Probe was shot in a miniature room that Smilde constructed, with sky blue walls and a red floor; the landscape north of Roebourne with its red dirt and expansive horizon provided a natural equivalent to this small constructed space, but on a vast scale.

 

Nimbus Roebourne, inkjet on photo paper, mounted on dibond, 123 x 176 cm, 2017. Edition of 3 + 1 AP. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, c/o FORM, the artist and Ronchini Gallery.

'BUILDED REMNANTS' exhibition launch
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' exhibition launch

Opening night of BUILDED REMNANTS, photograph by Edwin Sitt, c/o FORM.

'BUILDED REMNANTS' exhibition launch
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' exhibition launch

Opening night of BUILDED REMNANTS, photograph by Edwin Sitt, c/o FORM.

'Breaking Light: Cape Leeuwin' (partial view of installation), Berndnaut Smilde, 2016
       
     
'Breaking Light: Cape Leeuwin' (partial view of installation), Berndnaut Smilde, 2016

Opening night of BUILDED REMNANTS, photograph by Edwin Sitt, c/o FORM.

'BUILDED REMNANTS' installation view
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' installation view

Partial view of BUILDED REMNANTS installation, September, 2017. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, c/o FORM.

'BUILDED REMNANTS' installation view
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' installation view

Partial view of BUILDED REMNANTS installation, incorporating projected rainbow from the Sun Following Prism, September, 2017. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, c/o FORM.

'BUILDED REMNANTS' installation view
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' installation view

Partial view of BUILDED REMNANTS installation, incorporating projected rainbow from the Sun Following Prism, September, 2017. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, c/o FORM.

'Breaking Light: Cape Leeuwin', Berndnaut Smilde, 2016
       
     
'Breaking Light: Cape Leeuwin', Berndnaut Smilde, 2016

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, Western Australia. Characteristic Fl W 7.5s.

Every lighthouse is specific to its geographical location, and has its own unique lighting rhythm for nautical navigation. Smilde was granted access to the lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia’s South West region, by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Cape Leeuwin was named after the Dutch ship of the same name (meaning ‘Lioness’), that first mapped a small section of the State’s coastline in 1622. It is mainland Australia’s most south-westerly point, considered to be the place where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet. Constructed from limestone in 1895, at 39 meters in height, the lighthouse is the tallest on the Australian mainland, and one of its most beautiful.

Smilde refracted the lighthouse’s beam (on the building’s land-facing side) as a temporal intervention in the coastal surroundings. As a consequence a bright spectrum coloured the landscape every 7.5 seconds, shooting from Australia’s most south-westerly corner, toward the centre of the continent.

Smilde had previously trialed Breaking Light in a lighthouse in Scheveningen, a seaside resort town in The Hague, as part of the Todays Art Festival, in September 2015. However, he was forced to shut down the project before adequately documenting it, when neighboring residents complained about the light projecting into their homes. In Western Australia, the rugged coastal grandeur of Cape Leeuwin provided a perfect counterpoint to the works’ previous, suburban incarnation.

 

Breaking Light - Cape Leeuwin, inkjet on photo paper, mounted on dibond, 123 x 180 cm, 2016. Edition of 6 + 2 AP. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, c/o FORM, the artist and Ronchini Gallery.

'BUILDED REMNANTS' artist and curator's tour of exhibition
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' artist and curator's tour of exhibition

Photograph by Edwin Sitt, c/o FORM.

'BUILDED REMNANTS' artist and curator's tour of exhibition
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' artist and curator's tour of exhibition

Photograph by Edwin Sitt, c/o FORM.

'BUILDED REMNANTS' artist and curator's tour of exhibition
       
     
'BUILDED REMNANTS' artist and curator's tour of exhibition

Opening night of BUILDED REMNANTS, photograph by Edwin Sitt, c/o FORM.