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Monday, 19 November 2018

From Beyond the Grave: Sarah Van Marcke's Errors and Residues

‘Errors and Residuals by Sarah van Marcke is a series of small carboard-bound artist's books which explore the archive of a deceased priest,  Ignace D.K. 

The story is that Ignace D.K. died in 2013 in the house that Van Marcke's parents subsequently moved into. His legacy was some kind of strange archive in which the dead Ignace D.K. attempted to assert control from beyond the grave on the preservation of his house, his gardens, his eccentricties. 

He left behind photos, documents, lists, and notes detailing how the house was to be preserved  after his death. He left behind pictures of his living room, all taken from the same view, with increasing and decreasing amounts of furniture. 

He made a nature research at the end of his back garden and maintained a natural pergola to guide the visitor to their horticultural destination. This was to be preserved by the incoming occupant for the next 10 years. 

This is the material Van Marcke works with in this series of artist's books. The book titled 'a view' contains Ignace's images of his forest pathway with a hole punched through them - Van Marcke's creation of a pathway to replicate the one that has been overgrown by nature. Even in death, Ignace's will lives on, as Van Marcke puts the latent powers of his archive into action. 

'A visit' (see above) details the time his house was photographed by a Google Street View van, an event Van Marcke writes about in a letter addressed to Ignace. She imagines his discomfort at an event taking place beyond his control, but also considers the way this temporarily preserves the memory he wants preserved - until the street view is updated and Ignace fades into the background. Archives can be accidental then. 

'A ritual' contains the repetitive pictures Ignace made of his living room and is accompanied by a short story, a rather wonderful short story about a grandmother who needs to look after her grandchild, about the rituals of habit and repetition we use to stay in our comfort zone - that's what Ignace did wiith his pictures, that's what the grandmother does when unexpectedly required to look after her grandchild. 

It's a conceptual affair where the imagined powers of Ignace's archive, or albums, or shoebox, are given life through Van Marcke's three very different interventions. Those interventions have a roughness about them; they're not perfectly formed, they're in line with the eccentricity of the original notes it feels. In that sense, it seems like there is an honesty to them. I'm not sure, but I think that matters. 

This is about an archive of sorts, but it leads with a voice that seeks to fulfil Ignace's wishes. I might be completely wrong in that, but that's the feeling I get. And I think it's what makes the series really thoughtful and considerate in the most human sense of the words. You get the feeling that if Ignace were some weird priest at some afterlife party, Van Marcke would seek him out and let him know that all was well, the tunnel was still there, the room still ordered and the lawn, though not quite as perfect as it could be, still in some kind of order. It's a book to reassure the dead, not the living, and that's quite sweet really. But as I said, I could be completely wrong in that.

Individual copies are available for 9 euros, or it's 22 euros for all three (with two more to be published in February).

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