Willem Sarah

Cookie Butcher X: You Are Here

This exposition had to be postponed

Public Opening : March 24, 2019. 4pm to 9pm.

Cookie Butcher X : You Are Here installed

Real Fiction, New Reality

Where Willem Sarah used to rely on the viewer’s eye to push their state of being onto the work and the reality of the exhibition, they now offer a wide scope of consciousness, a kaleidoscopic rhizome of sensations which is to be interpreted freely, yet impossible to be ignored. The image quality of the human eye is awful, made usable by a huge amount of real-time processing. There’s only a tiny area that comes close to being sharp. The scene is painted by scanning eye movements refocussing continuously and remembering the parts of the image currently not in focus. Immersion is not about optics it’s about processing as Willem Sarah feel both fiction and reality is added by the beholder. Where they used to look for variations on the white cube’s reality, making use of direct life-size references to the physical reality of the viewer, they now take the viewer on a journey through their inspiration. This new reality or real fiction is formed by the presence of the viewer as Willem Sarah finds their way outside of the exhibition space, interacting with their own oeuvre. The use of cinematic ingredients like music, camera movements, dramatic scenery and live action, invoke viewers’ emotions, further painting the space between fiction and reality.
Real fiction, New reality, is to be explained by means of processing rather than the genuineness of its image or message.

Vision is fiction, reality is processed.


Cookie Butcher X: You Are Here is set to act as a totalitarian take on the reality of the exhibition in which the slightest form of presence will give meaning to the whole. This exhibition shows 3 works: Dramaturg – First Viewer (2011), In Camera (2015) and Cookie Butcher X: You Are Here (2019). The concept of this exhibition will find its apotheosis in a multiple that pretends to be a catalogue, also presented in the gallery.

Dramaturg – First Viewer shows a very slow camera movement that pivots around the so-called ‘first viewers’ of the artwork. As the figures in the video draw the attention of the viewer, slowly the surrounding space is described. When half way through the slow movement the protagonists’ gaze is focused on the spectator, he will have noticed that he is standing in the exact same spot as the people in the video. In this way, the relation between artwork and viewer are subtly exchanged.
In Camera surpasses reality by adding to it. Viewers are being forced into watching one another or better yet, their own kind, creating a border of discomfort in the serenity of the art space knowing they are being watched and evaluated as being an artwork. In Camera quite literally shows this border. As the collection of gazes builds up, so will the beholder feel watched as is shown in the image of the work.

Cookie Butcher X: You Are Here is a scalable cinematic video, showing a magic realist version of life excerpts/ experiences of the artists. It is transformed to fit the exhibition space and will grow every time it is presented. The film, or rather say series, bundles impressions and memories depicting the artists’ view on reality.

Willem Sarah is an artist duo consisting of Willem Corten and Sarah Marks, living and working in Antwerp, Belgium. Their work questions the relation between audience, artwork and space. With lives in both art and cinema, they are often tempted to design reality into what could be. A period of 4 years was put in their new line of work as it depicts the way they want to see the world. What interests them is the way a viewer looks, interprets and reacts. The broadest meaning of the word ‘perspective’ should be seen as a main theme in their oeuvre. To push the narrative aspect of their films in the exhibition space and towards the viewer as much as possible, they often choose highly stylized characters and storylines.
Willem Sarah applies a “Choose Your Own Adventure” schedule to the reality of the exhibition space which translates into an almost playful interaction between artwork, viewer and space, active on the borders between installation, performance, and video art. Because their work always relates to the space in which it is shown and therefore often created on the spot, Willem Sarah considers the museum to be their atelier.