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Simone Decker produces installations that readily include the site in which they are set fully as a material of the work. But is this to say her work belongs to the practice of the in situ installation uncompromisingly questioning the political function of the insertion of art in the public space? Simone Decker’s is a more formal, more intimist and more empirical approach to the space. The artist, whose favourite materials (notably scotch tape, chewing-gum and plastic bags) share the fact that they are more like surfaces than compact volumes, readily describing her mode of intervention as pictorial. Colour, surface and line are replayed out of the picture. By modifying the way we walk through them, her installations cut the space down to the scale of the human body – the artist’s and the visitor’s. The chewing-gum or the sticky tape liable to trap the visitor introduces a possibly more than skin-deep tactile relationship with the body and lends an organic dimension to the spaces arranged in this manner. Finally, the simplicity of her productions – the trivial materials used and the laborious execution based on a repetitive gesture – lends the work a handicraft dimension – somewhat reminiscent of the approach of certain French artists of the Support(s) Surface(s) group. The result is an unassuming practice that reduces art to the level of making something and an approach that places value on the actual time spent in the making. Thus Simone Decker’s work can be seen as a two-pronged strategy for occupying time and space.
With nothing but 50 000 m of multicoloured sticky tape 15 to 19 cm wide, Simone Decker makes a kind of shapeless maze. In the manner of modernist all-over painting, she seeks to saturate not the surface but the space of the synagogue. It is supposed to be a light intervention. There is no seeking to lend it weight, but on the contrary to lighten the space, to blur any landmarks or hierarchical perception. The top of the synagogue traditionally reserved for women, downstairs for the menfolk, and the space for the liturgy at the back, are blended together into an indistinct continuum, blurring our perception of the space in the way Pollock’s networks of paint drippings or Rothko’s surfaces with their uncertain boundaries hamper a clear perception of the surface of the canvas. In 1992, Langweilekerne (Kernel of boredom), a kernel of wood patiently covered by a web of multicoloured wires (one of the very few objects actually made by the artist) was like an anticipation of the work done with White Noise. The work applied the same principle of saturation with colour through a minimal, repetitive gesture. The object’s small size highlighted the solitary nature of the activity, possibly conveying a feeling of frustration with the emptiness that nevertheless imposed itself around the object, while the painting appeared to be turned in on itself.