The monumental architectural constructions, small sculptures, delicate drawings and staged photographs by the Dutch artist Rob Voerman (1966) are disturbing and seductive at the same time. They sketch a perfectly constructed, utopian world with apocalyptic traits, a world that is continually proliferating but is also protected, a world that has broken down but is also rising from its ashes.
In addition, Voerman's work has an important critical component: the central perspective has been abandoned for more points on the horizon, more views, for alternatives. In this way, in addition to an aesthetic, Voerman always performs an imaginary role: there are vehicles for thoughts, vehicles for change, discussion and analysis. Voerman's three-dimensional sculptures and monumental installations are wonders of architectural and tactile ingenuity. They are made up of (plexi) glass, epoxy, wood, cardboard, car parts, textiles, paper, paint, glue and much more. In the monumental works photo slides and films are sometimes shown, sometimes they are places for discussion or retreat. Always a socially critical component is hidden in Voerman's work. The decline of democratic structures, the danger of (neo-) capitalist money systems, the nature of political and other power systems and the major ecological threats that are based on our way of life for the planet - these are issues that Voerman examines in his work, analyzes and - last but not least - visualizes. His work is also a reason to organize collection campaigns for the financing of projects in the local community.
For example, with his fictitious bank building called "The Exchange" on Sonsbeek 2016, Voerman raised money for a reforestation project in Sulawesi and Borneo, and donated work for philanthropic auctions. As different as the material with which Voerman works, so are Voermans's art-historical references. Modernist artists such as Kurt Schwitters and his organically growing Merzbau, the Dutch utopian builder Constant, as well as Richard Buckminster Fuller’s ecologically inspired geodesic domes are important sources of inspiration. Recently Voerman started a new body of work on which he will keep working over the coming years. He will build large models of places or buildings related to power (economical, financial, information, military, etc.) He will then transform these buildings by adding his architecture and claddings in, through and around the existing architecture. Though this Voerman respons and transforms the actual function of these sites/buildings. By this Voerman comment on the existing power-structures and systems and touches and raises questions on alternative models. These models will then also "act" in a serie of large new lightboxes. For example, Voerman has just build a model of the UN-Headquarters in New York and transformed the building by adding claddings around, in and againest the ruined assembly. The whole complex is flooded and became a peninsula and a footbalstadium seem to be broken down into pieces and to be functioning as a new general assembly. In such work for example, Voerman touches many issues. How would or could a future world-representation look like? Will there be enough real debate, reliable information and discourse in the coming decades to be able to keep democracies a life or not? Or should we start re-thinking our education, media, our future society completely? Recently Voerman also tackles the notion of possible crackdown of democracies and the notion of manipulation through media. Sculptures, photoworks and prints that contain broken down stadiums and forums that have been placed in new constellations are only one part of this new theme in Voerman’s work. Over the coming years Voerman will mainly focus, in regard of his larger site-specific installations, on the destruction of the rainforests and the indigenous people living in it. Something he has been concerned with all his life. It will be both an ongoing activistic project as well as a utopian project, where issues like economics, representation, ecology will also be relevant in a broader sense.
Voerman's work is exhibited internationally: from America to China and Japan. His work has been included in the collections of the MoMA (New York), the UCLA Hammer Museum (LA), the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), the Musée d'Art Contemporaine (Kinshasa), the Generali Foundation (Vienna) and numerous other public and private collections in the Netherlands and abroad.
Artist's statement 'My work is at the heart of society, it both imagines and reflects on it. In addition, I hope my work can serve as a source of change - no matter how small.’