Mariken Wessels’ (b.1963, the Netherlands) work nearly always begins in the archive. From letters found in flea markets to photographs given to her by friends, Wessels proceeds to both uncover the original narrative and then create her own through books, films, installations, sculptures and photographs. Such a use of the archive hints at notions of public and private, where the two are in constant flux through Wessels’ re-moulding of bygone personal material into a public domain. And at times, the stories she finds take precedence, whilst at others, they merely function as a point of departure where Wessels sees them as a stage to then write her own play. Indeed, the theatrical analogy is fitting given her education in theatre and a decade-long career in acting, which undoubtedly still influences her today.
Mariken Wessels studied acting at the Amsterdam Theatre School. After her career in acting, she studied visual art at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and then established her own artistic practice. Since 2017, Wessels has been working on a large-scale project inspired by a sequence from the Human and Animal Locomotion studies by Eadward Muybridge. This new work encompasses sculpture, photography, film, and (artist’s) books related to the themes of corporality, movement, and weight(lessness). In 2018 she worked as artist-in-residence at the European Ceramic Work Center (EKWC) in Oisterwijk, the Netherlands.
Taking Off. Henry my Neighbor, her most recent artist’s book, was published in 2015 with Art Paper Editions to international acclaim. The book was awarded an honorary appreciation at the Leipzig Book Fair (Best Book Design from all over the World, 2016), won the Author Book Award at Les Rencontres d’Arles (2016) and has been included in the selection for Best Book Designs from the Netherlands and Flanders (2015). Wessels’ works and artist’s books have been collected by museums, libraries and private collectors worldwide, among them the Centre Pompidou (Paris), ICP and MoMA (New York), Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Fotomuseum Antwerp (Belgium), and the Verbeke Foundation (Belgium).