Katrin Dekoninck (b.1971) is a multimedia artist who places the existence of human beings at the core of her practice. Through her sculptures, (animation) drawings and stop-motion animation films, she shows herself to be a master observer. A recurring motif is the depiction of (fragments of) withdrawn, wounded bodies of men and women, some in the spring of their life, others in the dusk of old age. After years of experimenting with sketches and handmade animations, her art practice now focuses entirely on sculpture. After her technical education in Montana City, USA, Dekoninck has been modelling labour-intensive, monumental sculptures/installations for over a decade.1
Dekoninck's language is evinced in the bodies she creates: in a distracted gaze or a shy hand, in staring eyes, hanging arms or fiddling fingers. The sculpted bodies are often hunched over, turned inwards or seem to harness themselves against an outside world. Some of them have their eyes closed or keep their hands over their ears – as if wanting to distance themselves from stimuli or efface themselves and momentarily disappear. They evoke a tangible sense of subdued tension. The sculptures reveal an inner state: uncertainty, longing, sadness or shame, a lack of self-empathy (see the work of the psychiatrist Louis Tas), or perhaps loneliness, apprehension, weariness or pain. They are searching, tormented bodies that we – like any living creature – can never fully know. We can, however, seek to understand them through compassion, or find comfort in the work through recognition.
1 The current artistic production is the result of ten years of experimenting with stoneware clay and a complex process that consists of different phases: the image is first modelled on an iron support, then cut into pieces, hollowed out, built up/reshaped, cut into pieces again, and finally fired. In the coming years, Dekoninck may also include on other materials, such as bronze, epoxy or wax.
Sofie Crabbé kunsthistoricus -curator