Sharon Van Overmeiren
Platform: Paris / Brussels is a viewing room featuring twelve galleries based in Paris and Brussels, hosted on David Zwirner Online. This is the fourth edition of the Platform series, which David Zwirner introduced in March in response to the global health crisis. Previous editions have focused on the gallery communities of New York, London, and Los Angeles.
Museums often categorize objects by date, location or medium or according to false dichotomies like ‘decorative’ and ‘fine arts’. They guide encounters between artifacts and visitors with wall labels filled with factual information. Van Overmeiren dislikes these approaches, which she feels are restrictive and pedantic. Her exhibition displays often critique them. Translating found forms into ceramics is an important part of Van Overmeiren’s process. It is how she strips shapes from their original context, how she finds their essence, how she makes them equal. The material has long and widespread history, and an ambiguous status. Early peoples all over the world began to mold earth and bake it independently from each other. This basic though ingenious act transformed their societies, as it allowed food to be cooked, stored and transported. Terracotta’s were often lavishly decorated, but they are considered ‘artifact’ rather than ‘art’. Unlike sculptures done in shiny marble, works in humble clay are valued for their utilitarian purpose. The material is both lasting and fragile. Many old ceramics survive only in fragments, and the larger whole to which they once belonged is not always clear. By materializing the dominance of museum didactics, Sharon reflects on their constant immaterial presence. Van Overmeiren wishes to meet forms without theoretical guidelines, and this moment in history offers exceptional possibilities to do so. Previous generations faced off artifacts through books and museums. These are limited in scope by nature and impose a single structure of experience on their consumer. In our digital age things are quite different. Anyone can roam from the splendors of ancient Rome to Calcutta and back in seconds, effacing boundaries of time and space. The scope is now infinitely wide. Because of this, hierarchies of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art fade. A childhood memory, a Picasso, a kitten, and the Apollo Belvedere can all be equals on a social media feed. The gatekeepers of old have disappeared. Images can now go viral because people like them, regardless of their background.