Raúl Ortega Ayala, The Zone; Dürst Britt & Mayhew, The Hague


Loss causes wounds, both psychologically and physically.



A wound can be seen as a trace of suffering.


Traces, as far as they are visible, are subjected to aesthetics, whether you like it or not, and as such they are subjects for the visual arts.



Absence is a manifestation of loss, and so becomes part of the traces of loss.


These closely related aspects come together in The Zone, a project by Raúl Ortega Ayala (1973), presented by Dürst Britt & Mayhew.



The Zone is a video, lasting more than half an hour, made in the restricted area around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine.


However, the film is not just another expression of morbid aesthetics or another tear-jerking documentary about human suffering.



In fact it is very much alive.


History becomes very much part of the present and becomes timeless as well as time-worn when you see the different seasons in the area and the people who tell their memories and walk around in the places where they once lived, worked and enjoyed themselves.






The Zone is supplemented with photographs which act like a decor and, as they are very well presented, act as a kind of vestibule to the video.


In the front part of the gallery Ortega shows three renditions of x-rayed pictures.


Under the paintings by Hodges, Van Gogh and the Le Nains are completely different pictures, which are lost for humanity but are being made visible again, with traces of the present paintings over them.


Again they are traces of absence, of loss. It is great how Dürst Britt & Mayhew changed their gallery again to present this work, so, go there and take your time to see it all!


[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

© Villa Next Door 2017

Content of all pictures courtesy to Raúl Ortega Ayala and Dürst Britt & Mayhew.


Bertus Pieters


Silent Light; Dürst Britt & Mayhew, The Hague


Silent Light at Dürst Britt & Mayhew’s is a show with 5 so-called lens-based works by 5 artists. Four works are indeed without sound, which is a great relief. No hassle with not-working headphones etc.

Silent Light 02 Puck Verkade

The one with (working!) headphones by Puck Verkade is the most surprising.

Silent Light 03 Puck Verkade

She found a good balance between the silence of her subject and the people telling about their experience of solitude and silence while living on an island near Iceland.

Silent Light 04 Puck Verkade

Life and death seem to become one and bring peace and openness of mind.

Silent Light 05 Pieter Paul Pothoven

Silent Light 06 Pieter Paul Pothoven

Pieter Paul Pothoven projects a thin slice of lapis lazuli, the legendary blue from Afghanistan.

Silent Light 07 Alexandre Lavet

Silent Light 08 Alexandre Lavet

Silent Light 09 Alexandre Lavet

Alexandre Lavet shows an enlargement of cursor movements over a colour selection programme, which looks like a night and day animation.

Silent Light 10 Sybren Renema

Sybren Renema shows a Tyrannosaur with a red balloon on its tail in the Natural History Museum in Oxford, which brings you back to Victorian times when dinosaurs became part of the Anglo-Saxon empire. It looks like a huge vanitas still life.

Silent Light 11 Raúl Ortega Ayala

The most recent work of the exhibition, a work by Raúl Ortega Ayala, is appropriately shown as the opening work, opening and closing the curtains.

Silent Light 12 Raúl Ortega Ayala

The works are fine and well presented but as a whole, in spite of the inviting silence, the show doesn’t seem to be very coherent. On the other hand, the works give enough room for contemplation, so take your time when visiting.

Silent Light 13 Raúl Ortega Ayala

[Click on the pictures to enlarge]


Bertus Pieters