Marjet Zwaans

Marjet Zwaans (b. 1988 in Groningen, Netherlands) seeks proximity with the material and people she works with. While studying economics at university, she realized that narrow, arguably failed, twentieth-century economic models were still circulating within academia and policy-making circles. Among the continuing prevailing assumption was that humans make rational choices. In response, Zwaans proposes a methodology of de-abstraction, a recuperation of seemingly non-essential data that engages with the particular, the ideological, and the psychological. She experiments with orchestrating social gatherings and games that privilege social process over sheer deductive logic.

If games like Decentral Lecture (2017/2018) brought individuals to a roundtable, Zwaans now delves deeper into creating a polyphony of voices, natural organisms, and materials, while continuing to reflect on metaphors used in economic models. Whereas twentieth-century dominant metaphors were preoccupied with the language of mechanical equilibrium (to the exclusion of attendant social inequality, pollution, or exploitation and degradation of materials), writers have since begun to embrace economies as organisms embedded within a natural environment. Zwaans assimilates these lessons: looking around instead of forward, incorporating greater physical labor into her process, and repurposing materials from older artworks into new ones.

Zwaans attentively looks at lichen, signifiers of healthy environments. The lichen that grows on tree bark is less a single organism than a symbiosis of multiple algae and fungi. It forms the basis of her new polyphonic choral work, which alludes to the social community at Jan van Eyck and the way its participants, their ideas, and the institute mutually nourish one another through intimacy and trust. This interdependency and responsivity reflect among all Zwaans’s artworks, which develop and merge with and through one another.

-Text written by Amanda Sarroff, independent writer and curator

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  • Marjet Zwaans