More ELLE, 2012, lithography on paper, mounted on dibond, 115 × 92 cm


For twelve years, Willem Oorebeek has produced blackouts; he takes existing popular images, blows them up, and covers them with black ink so only the contours stay visible. In the Taipei Biennial 2012 he shows four works. Mary Kelly BLACKOUT is a blackout of a poster from an exhibition by the artist Mary Kelly called Post-Partum Document, mounted at the Generali Foundation in 1998. In this project Mary Kelly collected images of her son to serialize and historicize his growth process. Willem Oorebeek bought the poster to make it into a blackout and thus appropriate the images.

Scéance BLACKOUT (London Sofa) is a blackout of a poster showing the couch from Sigmund Freud’s London apartment. Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, heavily influenced the development of thought and historical analysis in Europe. Scéance BLACKOUT (London Sofa) is mounted on a panel in eccentric position, hinting at the absence of something in the frame. According to the laws of visual organization in mass media, the empty space would be the space for a header, columns of text, and captions.

More ELLE is the print-over of two Elle magazines from the People’s Republic of China. The magazines were given to Oorebeek by his wife, who travelled in China, although he himself has never set foot in Asia. He is interested in the standardization of Elle covers as a sign of visual “globalization”.

The gesture in Sea=Land is similar to the gesture Oorebeek uses when making a blackout. By crumpling up and then unfolding a historical map of Taiwan, he emphasizes the contours of information and the arbitrariness and politics involved when choosing what information is included in a map and what is not. A simple rupture in the way the map is presented echoes the representability of a standard whose reliability is generally left unquestioned.

Willem Oorebeek, born 1953 in Holland, lives and works in Brussels