gesso, pencils, paper
Absences is a short story in form of a dialogue between a woman and a police officer. The protagonist reports strange disappearances from her apartment: “Mostly small things of everyday life that might have been gone for a long time or maybe vanished just before I noticed they are missing. For most of them I couldn’t say when I last saw them.” – In the end she has to realize that much more is missing. A surprising story – which I hope is funny in a bittersweet way – about estrangement in marriage, about how the comfort of daily routines can turn huge parts of a life into something ephemeral. In spirit with the ephemeral nature of the objects in the story, each book is made from scraps and materials made to look like leftover bits. The background (with missing objects) is stencilled with white gesso. To stress the simplicity and intimacy present within the story, the text is hand written upon this white holey page. The cover is decorated with acrylics and more stencil in gesso.
With her first pieces Kurzke studied the physical structure of book. The writing down of language was soon discovered as important, and works in secret and fake script entered her body of work simultaneously with silent books without any text. Experimenting with different methods for simple text and image reproduction are a characteristic of Kurzke’s artistic work. For many of her pieces she uses relief printing in different form and from different materials. Striving for simplicity and a more intimate encounter between artist and reader she has moved from commonly used materials for printing blocks (linoleum, rubber, wood), to cardboard, and on to handwriting and -drawing and simple stencils for most recent work. Books that feature her own writing show a sparse writing style which uses the book, its structure and imagery to complete the story in her reader’s head rather than on the paper.
Hilke Kurzke is (was) a mathematician and theologian by training. She bound her PhD thesis by hand, which led to an interest in bookbinding and book arts. It was her interest in literature that initiated first works of art, and investigating books themselves remains the underlying topic of most of her work in book arts.