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Emma van Noort

Leiden/Rotterdam, NL

As a child a nun gave me a charm with a relic of a saint. The front of the charm had an image of the holy saint and the back had a small spherical glass cut out in which the powdery remains of the saint were presented. Although wearing someone’s remains felt a little strange at first, I understood the value of the object and decided to wear the neckless every day.
One day I went to the swimming pool and forgot to take the neckless off. When I came home and looked at the charm, I realised the relic was empty and the remains of the saint were washed away. I decided not to tell anyone and so I became the only child in Leiderdorp who knew that our local swimming pool was filled with holy water.


This event is the earliest memory I have which shows my interest towards the conservation of objects. I think it is fascinating how objects are our silent witnesses of history and how we can treasure an object or become emotionally attached to it. In a way an artwork can also be an object we become attached to since it can represent for example feelings, a statement or a time period. However, a contemporary artwork is not seen as a relic or an artefact, but I wonder in what way it actually differs from those. What is the difference between art and artefacts?


I am interested in traditional display methods used by museums and how they conserve their collections. The museum depot not only attracts me because of its order but also because this systematic way of working can unintentionally give objects a whole new meaning. In both storage as well as in displaying art or artefacts I like the care that has been put into it. I play with these concepts when I arrange my own installations.


My work process is an alternation between a systematic and a more intuitive way of working. Although the initial exploratory phase of the work is very intuitive, the part where I build an installation is systematic and well thought-out. It fascinates me how arranging objects gives us a feeling of order and at the same time creates a new context between the different objects. I am drawn to the collision or fusion of different objects, shapes and materials. This systematic way of working is also important to achieve a serene and modest appearance of the work by order and repetition. 


I build installations which aim to instigate an open-ended dialogue between objects, the viewer, and the space. My work consists of everyday objects I removed from their familiar environment and dissected back to their basic elements. By reordering these fragments I create a new composition which is often site-specific. I want to uncover different options to look at an object or space and stimulate the viewer to have an investigative approach.


In my site-specific installations I respond to the proportions of the space. By making associative work in which I use shapes and materials which are already present on site, I create the feeling that the work is part of the environment. At the same time, the work stands out from the environment by also using contrasting materials and creating new frameworks. 

I try to manipulate the movement of the viewer by interrupting or encouraging their natural sight lines with my work. I do this by playing with lines of perspective and framing-techniques. This two-dimensional focus illustrates the influence of my painting-background. I guide the viewer’s gaze, encouraging to observe the work from a certain angle, or to show or hide certain aspects of the work.


An important theme in my work is the nature in my own environment. It amazes me how nature finds its own way in the humanly organized world and the contrast it creates between organic and abstract shapes. It for example fascinates me how trees are framed by buildings or how houseplants find their way through the window blinds.


I intentionally look for inspiration in my close environment, because I want to aware people of all the things you can discover nearby. This is the reason that my work is most often site-specific. By creating static and serene images in response to my direct environment, I want to create a peaceful place opposed to our generally hectic world

Soft Corners of Concrete Marble Possibilities is a series of works that refer to architectural anecdotes. I deliberately and sometimes subconsciously borrow their visual appearance from repeating moments in my day. Walking from the station to the studio, from the studio to the workshops and from the workshops home. My home that was under construction influenced my sculptural language and interest in standardized infrastructures that manipulate our movement in the domestic space and urban context. Functional creative decisions create a framework resulting in detachable and multifunctional objects. I remake and reuse materials I moved to build an infrastructure. I look for characters in the objects or materials when I display and displace them to form a new contextual collaboration.

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