|JENNIFER C. PROTAS
(born in Brooklyn, New York. Lives and works in Amsterdam,
the Netherlands since 1992)
Since the start of her artistic career in 1988, Jennifer Protas has always shown a strong interest in the magical process of creating
new contexts and meanings by putting heterogeneous elements together.
Almost every material around her is potentially an ingredient for
an artpiece. This counts for her sculptural pieces as well as for
the two-dimensional worlds.
The different elements are often presented
in layers, a process that Protas used in earlier sculptural works.
These consisted of glass tanks, containing thin layers of soil,
organic detritus, printed matter and other garbage that caused organic
processes which subsequently created a new reality. In the top layers
of these tanks she often planted grass seed and 'weeds'. On top
of others, miniature worlds were built consisting of vague places
and structures in a state of disarray or neglect. In her recent
photoworks something similar happens: through the plexi-glass and
the layers of clear acetate and photo-paper one looks 'inside' the
piece, both in a physical as well as in a psychological sense.
these two dimensional works, Protas begins to investigate her own
memory, how it works and how memory and knowledge in general are
recalled, (re-) invented and categorized. A series started in 1999,
their elements range from 'failed' photographs and images appropriated
from magazines to Protas' own photography and reprints of 19th Century
botanical engravings found at flea markets and antique shops. In
her choice of images Protas prefers subjects of a scientific and
architectural nature, and these themes bind the heterogeneous elements
closely together. Original images are combined with transparent
prints of other images and this process of layering different realities
creates poetic as well as disturbing new meanings. Protas puts different
worlds together forcing them to coexist in a delicate balance: every
image maintains its own identity but at the same time seems intensely
influenced or contaminated by the other.
It is this 'contamination
of images' and the interplay of their meanings that allows Protas
to raise essential aesthetic, environmental, scientific and spiritual
issues in a strong and highly personal way.
Jennifer Protas moved to the Netherlands from New York city in 1992
and except for one year in Germany, has lived for the most part