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08 Mar 2010

'Little Monsters' by Jessica Ballenger at Dagmar De Pooter Gallery, Antwerp

'Little Monsters' Copyright © 2010 Jessica Ballenger

Little Monsters by Jessica Ballanger
Dagmar De Pooter Gallery


March 12 - April 24 2010 Open from Sat.
from 2 to 6 pm

Dagmar De Pooter
00 32 185 174 032

Dagmar De Pooter Gallery
Pourbusstraat 14
2000 Antwerp

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'Little Monsters' (Installation), Jessica Ballenger (United States)

Opening 11 march 2010 6 to 9 pm
Exhibition 12 march 2010 to 24 april 2010

Little Monsters, the work Jessica Ballenger conceived for Dagmar De Pooter's gallery, is intended to be a pathway. The viewer doesn't need just his sight but his entire body to penetrate a work that is not just a domestic environment but also a dollhouse where time is somehow frozen. In this way the mind is able to recollect images, sensations and experiences belonging to infancy, to that grey area of life when everything seems possible, any paradox realizable, any dream or nightmare plausible.

In addition to happening in that highly formative area, art deals with the creative process in a way that is neither male nor female: its products belong to an androgynously undetermined zone that plays on the elaboration of language and form. Indeterminateness comes to be the quality that the artist looks for. In Jessica Ballenger's work the indeterminateness of infancy is capable of breaking predetermined behavior patterns and prejudicial dogmas in existential conditions. Jessica Ballenger doesn't give answers but knows perfectly the art of asking the right questions at the right time: which events take place in the early phases of our life and what are their consequences in adulthood? In the process of our becoming men and women, how much do we owe to the various stimuli that come from the world and how much to our specific will of growth? Is there currently a dialogue of destiny and predetermination? To what extent? How much does it matter when faced with the individual will to overcome eventual infantile traumas?

The artist's work echoes the theory of 'Attachment' developed by Bowlby and Spitz, when they describe a relationship between an infant and a primary care taker, manifest in certain behaviors. Their construct resulted from the observation of infant behavior in the setting of profound maternal and sensory deprivation. Researchers since this time have in fact described infants who do not present with a pattern of 'secure attachment' with their primary care taker as being at significant risk for later impairments in social life, trust and intimacy. In this way Ballenger's visual research moves from different disciplinary fields that involve anthropology, psychology of the evolutionary age, autobiographical experiences and personal memories. This universality is reached with the use of a specific style made of contamination and fragments with highly evocative power. Both the environment she sets and her photo-collages mix signs and references of different origins, deriving in part from the level of high culture and on the other hand from mass communication and contemporary media like science-fiction, self help books, cartoons, and trash TV.

Ballenger's is an art of struggle, utterly and directly in contact with the forces that mould existence, whether evil or good. This awareness considers the necessity to found an artistic image capable of resisting. In order to realize a three-dimensional form of struggle between the self and the world, the artist chooses to build an environment that stages fears and strengths, fetishes and physical countenance…basically everything. Ballenger's struggle, anthropological and dramatic, doesn't assert mundane or social qualities, but deals with the natural and historical scenario of being; the domestic setting becomes a homeatelier- studio, cozy, vibrant and bewildering at the same time, where there is no difference between artistic and existential, a continuum of space-time-reality in which the creative pulse is constantly at work.

Text by Gianluca Ranzi