Office Nutshell: a Solo by Deborah Bowmann
The opening of ‘Office Nutshell’ at Everyday Gallery coincides with the closing of Deborah Bowmann’s eponymous Brussels-based exhibition space. For seven years, the artist duo ran their artist space at the administrative heart of Europe. Now, Deborah Bowmann is fleeing the city, looking for new scenarios. The artistic duo thus explores a different narrative, one that resonates with the re-emergence of pastoral fiction in our densely urbanized and highly mediated social environment. In their ‘Office Nutshell’, they splice the ideological artifacts of bureaucracy with the pastoral sceneries. Both, the artist duo suggests, are fictions; and yet both are real. They are simulacra that are beyond the opposition of real and not-real, but they do tell a story that matters. There is a deliberate clumsiness in this scenography, like a smooth urban bureaucracy that accidentally stumbles into the intimacy and escapism of the pastoral.
The artist duo, consisting of Amaury Daurel (1990, Bordeaux) and Victor Delestre (1989, Bordeaux), was established in Amsterdam in 2014 and has been based in Brussels since 2015. Midway between installation art, sculptural work, and scenographic interventions their artistic practice tends to unite objects, codes, and languages from different social environments; juxtaposing them within the same installation or artwork. Surprisingly, while this results in works that are rife with carefully orchestrated contradictions, there is a deeper, almost dreamlike consistency in these assemblages. Walking through Deborah Bowmann’s designs can feel like entering the picturesque scenes of postcards, posted from a universe that looks very much likes ours but operates with a slightly different logic.
In the set-up of their exhibition, Deborah Bowmann collaborated with touche––touche for a soundscape that interconnects both solos shows. The audio work unfolds in a timeframe of roughly forty minutes and contains auditory references to pastoralism and nature. It contributes to the construction of the intermediary space- time of ‘Office Nutshell’: situated between the domestic interior and the rural exterior, interweaving elements of bureaucratic (semi-)public space with the indications of a desire for an intimate, countryside retreat. As a visitor, we are welcome to dwell in this magical, twilight zone between the real and the imaginary. The dream-like state this induces in us is contrasted with the way we navigate the highly urbanized spaces of late capitalism: facing the total destruction of our planet, we scroll along our social media where the algorithms feed us with images of pastoral nature. Residing in the subtle scenes that Deborah Bowmann constructed in Everyday Gallery, a mental space is created that allows the visitor to reflect on their own condition.
Text by Bram Ieven