Walking the Line, 2013
… Clues to the domesticity of Marcelle Hanselaar’s view of things - alongside a more far reaching international consciousness and deep art historical understanding – lie in the repetition of certain objects and motifs.
The colander is a perfect example of this. Taken out of the usual kitchen context, one may say that the colander becomes useless. But as with painting, it is within the colander’s uselessness that we find illuminating questions and answers. Perhaps as a metaphor of the female body, the colander does not hold water: it does not contain anything. Furthermore, the inclusion of everyday objects, and especially painful looking objects from the kitchen – think for example, Mona Hatoum’s recent life sized grater beds reminiscent of Hanselaar’s bed of nails paintings – also add an element of playfulness, and at times, surreality to Hanselaar’s art. There is also the more serious dimension of referring to a woman in the kitchen: the artist makes a feminist decision to use an aspect of a woman’s’ life that once aided her silence, but now in fact helps her to speak. The holes in the colander relate to the spikes on the mattress and connect in Hanselaar’s repeated refusal to victimize the female.
As individual single figures, Hanselaar always depicts women as intensely thoughtful, embodied with reticent calm and deep inner strength. Her female figures exhibit great resilience, even if they have encountered abuse or neglect. With Bar coded Woman, for example, the artist explained that the scene recalls a newspaper article that she had come across, whereby a prostitute, who had been chained for days to a radiator and used for sex, had also been tattooed by her pimp with a barcode. Somewhat unbelievably, with a body used and abused and a branding harking back to the atrocities of the Holocaust, the woman still stares out at the viewer with some sort of strength...