Manon de Boer
Down Time

Guest Curator: Haeju Kim

When does an idea manifest itself, and when does the moment of creation find us? Working mainly in the medium of film, Manon de Boer (b. 1966, the Netherlands) produces work that discuss cinematic elements such as image, audio and the perception of time. The relationship between sound and image, the inevitable transience of time, and the framing of each shot are some aspects that are central to her experimental films. The artist also integrates the creative process of actors, musicians and dancers, and the ways they deliver their thoughts and emotions through bodily movements. Through careful observation, de Boer captures moments in time in which something takes place like a silhouette slowly revealing itself on photographic paper.

The series presented in this exhibition, From Nothing to Something to Something Else (2018–2019), features a group of young adults between the ages of sixteen and twenty. The artist does not give them any systematized scenario or instructions for producing the work but simply invites them to play music, dance and spend time together. All three films explore the time span between the already and the not yet, the time of potentiality.

This quite unusual relationship, in which the artist does not give directions to a performer, is a method of production that deviates from the established conventions of the educational system, questioning and challenging the accustomed ways of learning and what one has already learned. In this sense, the exchange becomes a process of unlearning. The resulting film serves as a record of the particular moment in life between childhood and adulthood called adolescence.

During preparations for filming, all of the basic conditions and circumstances – i.e. space, equipment and time/duration – are taken into consideration. Yet, it is the absence of planning that is the key to the experimental quality of this work. Through the decision not to act, through silence, and through downtime, something hidden, something muted, and moments in life that are vital yet understated are brought to life. Many of the recollections are delivered through the expressions, the silent gaze, and the skin of the performers, rather than their reenactment of the narratives. Suddenly, one becomes aware of the passage of time in their own body. In this sense, viewing a film also implies a recognition that insofar as we experience this passage together, we are also all growing old with one another.

Bookended by three other films by de Boer, The Untroubled Mind (2016) gathers scenes of her son at playtime, filmed with a 16mm camera while he was absent from the room. The work captures beautiful scenes of childhood, fluctuating from stills to motion, taking the viewer back to these moments of innocence in their own life.

Manon de Boer, Bella, Maia, and Nick. From Nothing to Something to Something Else, Part 1, 2018. Medium: HD video (colour, 16:9, sound, 26 min.). Courtesy of Jan Mot (Brussels) and the artist.
Manon de Boer, Bella, Maia, and Nick. From Nothing to Something to Something Else, Part 1, 2018. Medium: HD video (colour, 16:9, sound, 26 min.). Courtesy of Jan Mot (Brussels) and the artist.

Supported by

C.A.C Fonden
Manon de Boer, Caco, João, Mava, and Rebecca. From Nothing to Something to Something Else, Part 2, 2019. Medium: HD video (colour, 16:9, sound, 49 min.). Courtesy of Jan Mot (Brussels) and the artist.
Manon de Boer, Caco, João, Mava, and Rebecca. From Nothing to Something to Something Else, Part 2, 2019. Medium: HD video (colour, 16:9, sound, 49 min.). Courtesy of Jan Mot (Brussels) and the artist.
Manon de Boer, Oumi. From Nothing to Something to Something Else, Part 3, 2019. Medium: HD video (colour, 16:9, sound). Courtesy of Jan Mot (Brussels) and the artist.
Manon de Boer, Oumi. From Nothing to Something to Something Else, Part 3, 2019. Medium: HD video (colour, 16:9, sound). Courtesy of Jan Mot (Brussels) and the artist.
Manon de Boer, The Untroubled Mind, 2016. Medium: 16mm film transferred to digital format (colour, 4:3, silent, 7 min. 39 sec.). Courtesy of Jan Mot (Brussels) and the artist.
Manon de Boer, The Untroubled Mind, 2016. Medium: 16mm film transferred to digital format (colour, 4:3, silent, 7 min. 39 sec.). Courtesy of Jan Mot (Brussels) and the artist.