ELSA TOMKOWIAK &
Making Things Happen: Young Artists in Dialogue II
24 Nov 2017 – 28 Jan 2018
In celebration of Amsterdam Art Weekend 2017, TMH has asked ELSA TOMKOWIAK and MARY SUE (assumed identity) to interpret the gallery’s building, rich with Golden Age symbolism, as a contemporary public sphere. Using both spoofing techniques and serious art, they—Tomkowiak in painting and Mary Sue in video, sculpture, and photography—join forces to give the interior topography a provoking and provocative face-lift.
In so doing, the artists also address individually, and emphatically with respect to their art, the underlying theme of our Making Things Happen: Young Artists in Dialogue cycle: How does a young artist inscribe herself in the history of an art medium? In the case of Mary Sue and Tomkowiak, the question refers to performance and a performative gesture in art making.
TALKS + MUSIC
On Collecting with poet Ljoedmila Chodynskaja, 24 March 2018 / Image and Color with Gili Crouwel of The Gallery Club, 26 Jan 2018 / Performance & Painting with flutist Machiko Takahashi, 16 Dec 2017
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With a chance to exploit her adopted identity to the full, Mary Sue decks herself out as a trim housemaid to burnish the canonical fixtures of the Amsterdam bourgeois residence. Bent on a dramatic entry and transgressing the cannons of working with paint, Tomkowiak opens the space up to the spirit of liberty and munificence. French artists of the same generation and artistic formation, Tomkowiak and Mary Sue have featured in solo and group shows as well as festival commissions. They are on a mission to experiment.
Sweeping through TMH’s walls, floors, windows, ceilings, and terraces with the exigency of their craft, both artists construct a probing play of color as a cultural value. With confident proficiency in their medium, they are able to create a unique artistic exchange that invites viewers to join in and enjoy. The relational and artistic aspects of their dialogue are, however, both real and illusory, intimating telling slippages in modern day sociability and bonding.
Texts by Marsha Plotnitsky, TMH Founding Artistic Director, and art writer Hubert Besacier.
Elsa Tomkowiak (1981, FR) is acclaimed for her paintings and large-scale installations grounded in color and spatial experience—the artist’s and viewer’s. She is best known for her public commissions: an opera house (Nantes), two bridges (Quebec, CA), a glasshouse (Pougues-les-Eaux), festival participations, a permanent multi- painting installation for a hospital in Angers, a space-specific intervention at the Château-Musée de Tournon-sur-Rhône, and most recently, in 2020, at the Basilique Saint-Vincent de Metz. In 2019, she won the commission for a permanent park sculpture in Lyon and took part in the OpenART biennale in Sweden. Following her participation in Making Things Happen at TMH in 2017-18, Tomkowiak was selected for ARTZUID 2019 in Amsterdam. Tomkowiak lives and works in Douarnenez, FR.
Mary Sue (established between 1979 and now) uses color to a poignant effect in performances rendered as videos, photographs, art objects, and drawings. Under her sobriquet adopted while at ENSA Dijon, she has had exhibitions in France, Belgium, and Italy and participated in Art Basel, FIAC, and Art Brussels. Mary Sue’s working method, deploying the most advanced digital means, involves a critical reading of real places and situations through the prism of her cartoonish alter ego. Her vast project on childhood and loss, La Flotte, gained attention at the Art, villes et paysage festival (2017) in Amiens, France. Mary Sue was part of Making Things Happen at TMH, Amsterdam, 2017-18, and was TMH’s artist in focus at Independent Brussels, 2019.