Niels Bekkema

It's not a bad thing to lose words, but what if you don't know them yet? The boy lay stretched out in the grass, his chin resting on his hands. He saw a landscape of moss and water, dense entanglements of willows, grass stalks from which foxes bolted and fiberglass cables protruded and he heard birds and after that he heard nothing at all. He winked at the nurses and ski jumpers who silently and invisibly supported the economy of the spectacle, and then turned his gaze back in front of him. The beeping of a truck driving backwards. The closing of a door. The rattling of air bubbles in the radiator. He didn't have much free time, but for the mourning ritual he always made an exception. The mechanism was as simple as it was irreversible: you temporarily forget that you are someone who could move from a to b, someone who could usher in the new year by skiing down the hill and jumping from the ramp, someone who would never respond to missed calls, someone with a receptive kind of courage, in short, someone to whom life simply befalls. The sun started to shine, guests were coming. He sincerely hoped he would succeed - for if he did not succeed, or not completely, the blame would not return to those to whom it belonged, but would fade away and disappear into nothingness forever. The disaster would be incalculable. Out of politeness, he sat upright in bed, turned around and looked behind him inquisitively. Of course he was not looking for anyone: he wanted to show his face. He was proud. We took pictures and uploaded them, into the stream. Some we kept to ourselves.

A selection of work in a somewhat chronological order:

Straight Roads and Other Ghosts and Bandbreedte 2020, paper, copper, stickers, post-its, tape and transparent foil on a gessoed wooden panel, 103 x 72 cm
& Untitled (full-stop) wooden-mahogany-sculpture-found-materials-Niels-Bekkema 2019, mahogany and birch plywood, maple, paper, uranium glass, ceramics, nylon and polyurethane, 82 x 62 x 14 cm
Untitled (full-stop) is a cabinet made from mahogany and birch plywood. It contains two vases, one from half-glazed ceramics and one from matte uranium-glass. These objects are presented alongside a drawing of a hand on paper and a small maple plank containing polyurethane resin.
with For A Door wood-site-specific-sculpture-limbs-interior-Niels-Bekkema 2019, maple and cork, 140 x 18 x 12 cm
For A Door is a sculpture made from maple. On the one side is a hand, on the other a foot. It hangs over a door, and, like a paperclip, it connects two spaces in a way they weren’t before.
along Wereldontvanger exhibition-view-Niels-Bekkema 2019
and Sample spoon-wall-metal-sculpture-Niels-Bekkema 2018, spoon, hole
Sample and Example are two site specific sculptures that where installed in the project space Onono (Rotterdam) in November 2018, for the exhibition “Wereldontvanger”. Sample is a spoon installed in two spaces at once, Example is a grey metal bracket, installed on the skirting board that is holding an orange. I see these works as closely related, because they address metonymical issues of presenting, demonstrating and holding.
plus Example orange-fruit-sculpture-Niels-Bekkema orange-fruit-sculpture-Niels-Bekkema 2018, metal bracket, orange
Sample and Example are two site specific sculptures that where installed in the project space Onono (Rotterdam) in November 2018, for the exhibition “Wereldontvanger”. Sample is a spoon installed in two spaces at once, Example is a grey metal bracket, installed on the skirting board that is holding an orange. I see these works as closely related, because they address metonymical issues of presenting, demonstrating and holding.
& Alternating Currents, wall-cabinet-found-objects-contemporary-sculpture-Niels-Bekkema 2017, 98,5 x 80 x 13cm
Alternating Currents departed from questions evoked by writing short stories. Is it possible for objects to have an open end? Can an arrangement of objects be like an arrangement of words? With these questions in mind, I build a cabinet for a collection of objects, to examine the dialogues between objects, and to address the complicated relationship between container and contained.
Seashells That Look Like Petrified Ears artist-publication-self-published-short-stories-Niels-Bekkema 2016, self published editions of 25
Seashells That Look Like Petrified Ears is a collection of short stories. Each story departs from the idea of walking. Sometimes characters walk physically, such as in Train, where two characters are looking for a place to sit in a train, and observe how the train transforms into a mountain landscape. At other times the walk is considered more abstractly, such as in At the Same Time, or Nomad, which revolve around notions of economical frugality, companionship, longing and disorientation.
as well as Tower CNC-wooden-sculpture-hanging-windows-architecture-Niels-Bekkema 2015, maple, brass hook, nylon rope, 4,7 x 4,7 x 185cm
Tower is a maple bean that has windows carved inside. It is hanging just above the floor of a presentation space.
and Leaking Lighthouse CNC-contemporary-wooden-sculpture-engraved-writing 2015, wallnut, metal hook, nylon rope, 4,7 x 4,7 x 195cm
Leaking Lighthouse is a wallnut beam that is hanging just above the floor of a presentation space. The words Leaking Lighthouse, abandoned water. Delayed diagonal, mimicked broadcast. are carved into the wood, and spiral downwards.
and also Peter & The Strange Houses. 2015-2017
As an audio work in Twil Sharp, Johannesburg, RSA, during the show The House, curated by Samantha McCulloch
Peter & The Strange Houses is a story about a man who longs to be in the woods. It is told in three short chapters, a prologue and an epilogue.
In which we find Peter alone in a forest, searching for a phenomena he witnessed three years ago…

Peter had seen the strange houses in this forest before, but now he could not find them.
After hours of walking the forest became a monotonous being, and Peter lost hope.
He drove through this forest almost every day for ten years.
It had never occurred to him to walk through it, until three years ago, when his car had broke down on the road through.

To kill some time while waiting for the rescue service, Peter walked into the forest.
Six hours later he found his car gone, and the night had come.
Stunned by his encounter with the strange houses, Peter decided to walk home.
Three years later Peter parked his car on the same spot as last time, and entered the forest.

In which we learn how Peter found the houses, and how they communicate…

Three years ago Peter found the strange houses by accident.
He was not sure how he understood how they communicated, but they did so by shining light through their curtains at night.

Peter was not supposed to find the strange houses, they showed themselves to him, not the other way around.
He tried to explain this to them, but still they wanted him to leave.

Peter left, and the houses took his thoughts as a deposit.
"If you come back, we will make you lose your mind", he could hear them say.
But how could they ask him to leave, when they owned a part of him?

The memory of the strange houses becomes heavier, Peter goes back to the forest…

The memory of the strange houses shaped Peter’s imagination.
His personality became more and more at odds with itself.

Had Peter really seen the strange houses?
Was his imagination the reason the houses existed?
How do you find anything by chance?

Peter’s doubt transformed into anger,
his anger transformed into obsession.

Peters confusion gradually separated him from reality,
and drove him back to the forest.

In which Peter finds the strange houses and convinces them to let him stay…

As Peter wandered in the forest, he feels sure he has to stop looking.
Everything was similar to three years ago: it was dusk and the weather was the same.

Before Peter knew it, some hours had passed and he could no longer move. His legs had frozen stiff to the ground, and his eyes where open wide.

Peter understood that his desperation had convinced the strange houses, all he could do now was sleep.

In which Peter transforms into stone and wood, and becomes one of the houses…

Some time has passed and Peter’s transformation is complete.
He is no longer afraid of losing his mind,fear was the first part of himself to become dormant.
The rest of him followed.

At first Peter had arms, now he has windows.
Before he owned feet, now he has a roof and ceiling.
Previously he had skin, now he has plaster and a chimney.
His senses have transformed into light,which he shines through his curtains at his fellow houses.

In 2016, Niels Bekkema (Groningen, 1989) completed his Master of Fine Arts studies at the Piet Zwart Institute, and has lived in Rotterdam since. His work has been exhibited in the Netherlands, Germany, and South Africa, and he has been an artist in residence at Banff Centre for Creativity and Arts (Canada, 2018), and at SOMA Summer (Mexico-city, 2015). Alongside his practice, he works as a writer for the digital journal The Polity of Literature, (Refugee on Trial: the Hole in the Donut), as a fine arts teacher at the Minerva Art Academy in Groningen (the Netherlands), and as a translator (1, 2, 3, 4).

© Niels Bekkema 2020
Thanks Ismay Wolff for writing this website's Javascript.