“I want to be
A golden leaf
To fly and whirl, fragile with the flowing wind
Without losing my brightness
I look around in wonder
Body language between two people
A brick turns into dust
How am I related to the space, the others and time?
What kind of space exists between another and myself?
Drawings grow slowly under my fingers
Like a photograph reveals itself in a dark room’s sink
I “shape” pencil lines until they are tangible
Present in the space
In performance I am present
Even though I have left the room
In this way I seek contact with the other and the space around me
Can I share my gleam and wonder
Shimmering like a piece of gold leaf?”
In my drawings and performances I explore the presence of myself, the communication between people and the surroundings. I use my observations of the constant movement of objects, people, surroundings, shadows or light to feel the present of time and space.
The drawing is the base of my language. The physical and sensory experience of drawing is important in my work: the sound and movements of a scratching, caressing and abrasive pencil on the paper. The performance is about the action, the process of being in the moment in a live presentation. I devote attention to my body, the space, the people and the energy around them and make direct contact with the public. In recent years I combine performance and drawing. In a drawing performance the public experience the quality of performance, ‘be in the moment’ and the strength of a drawing at the same time. The drawing that arises from a performance is more than a trace; it is an expression of the performative qualities as completed drawing.
To research the performative quality of drawing, I merge drawing and action; the relationship of my body with the paper and drawing; the meaning, association, emotion, energy, atmosphere and sound of the acts and the traces on the paper. For example I create with both hands a rhythmic pattern, short sharp staccato lines. Or I leave spacious traces on the paper with a flat piece of graphite using the gravity of my body. This exploration and extension of my drawing language creates diversity in structures, lines and new significations. I use these skills in my drawing performance to switch easily and quickly between different situations and atmospheres.
In my recent drawings I visualize the transience of existence, and elusive fleeting moments using performance, video, temporary sculptures and drawing on location. The content of my drawing is shaped by specific locations and time. Every place provides different lines, colours, sounds and energy; impact of the presence of a moment. As a director I create frameworks and situations in which there is room for dynamic, diversity and encounters with others. I invite people to interact with me: a dancer, a musician or the public of the performance with different cultural and social backgrounds and expertise.
Different countries and cultural environments influence my work creating diversity and new insights in a social context of a place and time. For example, in my work Draw the Limit (2012) and Drawing your attention (2013), the audiences interacted differently with their shadow. In Canada they posed static with their whole body as a picture, while in Thailand they used small gestures with their hands and created imaginative and constant transforming shapes with their body.
A drawing performance is about two perceptions of time together as a selected collective moment, where there is a beginning and an end, a time period and attention span. On the other hand there is a drawing, which makes the time stand still, the contradiction between action and silence. Being present and representing at the same time.
Liesje van den Berk (Nijmegen, 1982) exhibits her drawings, videos and installations, in galleries, festivals and public space such as Amsterdam Drawing(NL), gAD-gallery Antiks Design in Lisbon (PT) and Centrum Jonge Kunst in Gent (BE). In addition, she has created performances for 2TurvenHoog (NL), Oerol (NL), |FAT| Arts & Fashion Week Toronto (CA), Grimmuseum Berlin (DE), SEAPA BU World Symposium (Global Encounters in Southeast Asian Performing Arts 2013 University Bangkok)(TH).