From 2009 onwards, we, Marie Ilse Bourlanges and Elena Khurtova, have been working together as a duo. What started out as a one-time collaboration turned into such a fruitful experience that we decided to join forces in a structural way and merge our expertise in textile and ceramics, respectively.

We like to typify our practice as a play-between-the-two. In research, we uncover the links through inner and outer layers; in conceptualization, there is as explicitly as inevitably the dialogue; in our methodology, we combine traditional crafts and modern technology. Moreover, what we aim for in the works themselves is the (re)activation of a play between matter and memory that offers more life and more lived experience (see below). So, what we strive for is to minimize the classical gap between form and content. Therefore, our practice is also one of meticulous care for the process as a whole, rather than privileging either concept, method, or result. This way, we hope to present objects that stimulate the senses as much as the intellect and call for experience out of the ordinary.

Our work has been directed by what we’d like to call a challenge to the ‘regime of utility’. The question we strive to raise is what ‘use’ may mean outside the restrictions ordinarily set by function and consumption; in short, is there a use that is not exhausted by ‘utility’? Posing this question, we perform a particular sensitivity to how the regime of utility consists in cutting the time of things into two opposite times, viz. duration and sustainability versus decay and waste. Intervening at the point where times are apparently separated, our works develop the opposition into a manifest ‘play between the two’: what remains ‘after use’ is no waste, but a memory that adds something to the object’s story as well as a prediction that adjusts the very conditions of its utility. Thus, our works demonstrate how ‘use’ is in fact more than mere ‘utility’. Instead of polarizing the opposition of times even more, which could only lead to a kind of hypertension, our works develop reciprocity and relaxation.

Text by Mark Leegsma