In Conversation Kinke Kooi, Lynne Woods Turner, and Stefanie Victor, for the Independent New York, May 11–14, 2023
Lynne Woods Turner: Our work shares an interest in the body: a female or fecund presence in addition to the physical “body” of the work itself. I see this in both image and construction. Kinke, your work is very sensual, overflowing with the idea of movement and growth. Stefanie, in your work, I see a concern with the physical manifestation (“body”) of the piece itself—something between architecture and biology. There seems to be an interest in an odd but essentially rational presentation. I’m guessing this thing I’m calling “rational” has something to do with our own body’s experience of movement, gravity, balance…
Lynne Woods Turner, Untitled #1388, 2019
Stefanie Victor: Hm, the rational! Maybe for me, that’s the feeling of becoming aware of a desire (need?) to make something and having that need gradually fulfilled, a need I only have the blurriest sense of, or answer for, at first. Maybe things feel rational in the sense that, in the final stretch of working on something, that need and its resolution become distinct, and I learn better how an object ought to be. Each object evolves with its own kind of call for where it ought to be in the room, or in relation to my body, playing with but analogous to the way ‘real’ objects are situated in relation to us so we can use them. That process of finding, I think it usually starts with my hands; then materials—the way they receive my gestures, but there’s an element of abstraction and re-combination too.
Kinke Kooi: Stefanie, I like the aspect of slight difference and sameness in your work within one piece. Looking up close, following the origin of the shapes, it is as if I am looking at a relation or a look-alikeness?
I love what you say about hands. For me, the hand is the symbol for being in touch. What interests me is the risk of involvement or contamination. The eye has an element of hygiene and distance.
Kinke Kooi, Searching for Recognition, 2013
SV: I agree! But I wonder if we touch with our eyes too—at least I hope we can. I handle my work so much, I’m afraid I don’t really know what it is to only look at it.
Lynne, I’m wondering, for you, whether there’s a bespoke sense of the rational in your response to the found marks in the papers and textiles on which you work? I suppose I imagine there’s a sense in which they might offer their own sense of logic in guiding you?
LWT: I like the idea that the hand might be a source of logic—that knowledge comes from the experience of “making”.
My use of found materials has to do with the idea of transformation: take something humble and make it into something more interesting or evocative. Observations of construction, growth, and interrelationships are the result of my experiences, both domestic and intellectual.
I find it interesting to disrupt genres by conflating the figure, landscape, and still life. Also “high” and “low”. I detect a bit of sly humor in all of our work. At least a little pleasure in the silly. Especially your work, Kinke!
“Each object evolves with its own kind of call for where it ought to be in the room, or in relation to my body, playing with but analogous to the way ‘real’ objects are situated in relation to us so we can use them.”
KK: Yes indeed, I love the silly, Lynne. When I start a new work and I show it to my husband and he cracks up with laughter, I know it’s good. In my twenties, I made up some rules for myself. One of them is that my choice of subject matter always originates from a personal fascination, even though I might be terribly embarrassed about it.
Later on, I questioned myself: why do I feel ashamed? I found out that the silly mostly has to do with things considered feminine.
LWT: I’m wondering how the two of you think about scale and intimacy in relationship to your work? Kinke, I imagine some of your references are scientific drawings? I’m thinking Ernst Haeckel, but also the charts of pinkish innards in doctors’ offices? Yours are more sexy, but...?
KK: I consider the borders of the paper I am working on as a holder that gives me support, like the womb from where we all started out from. But, also, I have a fish tank in my home. What I love about it is to see the edges—that I can see where things stop. Fabrics or scarves have the same effect on me, as do petri dishes. It is about being inclusive on a smaller scale.
LWT: Stefanie, I think the interest we share has more to do with the hand. I detect an interest in fabric and textile art—the mechanics of movement with an emphasis on the hand: bending, folding, perhaps even time?
Stefanie Victor, tiffanie’s clock 1, 2023
SV: Yes... That process of finding forms through folding, flipping, rotating, doubling, or halving is the way my mind / hands work, too. I like that this tactile way of making can lead somewhere I couldn’t have guessed. I’ve made sculptures with fabric that I bleached, dyed, and folded, but that way of making is just as present when I’m working out ideas in clay or paper. Time feels perhaps more explicitly in the room for me with this group of work than ever before. Overtly, in working with repetition and variation, intrinsically in the recurring process of making and remaking objects as I slowly catch up to what they are, and personally as I become more... aware of its force and shifts.
In both your works, Lynne and Kinke, I see recurring forms and shapes that move in and out of recognition and abstraction, and that reappear in different guises in different pieces.
I wonder how you think about that sense of iteration over time? If you think about circling back and around through forms differently than a conventional sense of “progression?”
Lynne, I’m also wondering about the numbers in the titles of your pieces. Are they chronological?
“What interests me is the risk of involvement or contamination. The eye has an element of hygiene and distance.”
LWT: I have never been able to see things in a straight line. I am always circling back or drifting off in other directions. It used to bother me to the point that I held a lot of my work back from public view. Now I realize that it is just part of trying to find a visual vocabulary that is both flexible and effective.
My numbering system is not exactly chronological. For years, I numbered only work that left the studio. Now a lot of early pieces are getting numbered for the first time. I use numbers because I know that I am not going to remember hundreds of titles. Numbers are easier to sort, and perhaps leave interpretation more to the viewer.
SV: Lynne, in Stephanie Snyder’s text about your work, she uses the word devotion. I’m drawn to this. I wonder if there is something shared by all of us through that word in the experience of making—a heightened quality of attentiveness, and/or (pleasure in? desire for? devotion to?) that particular band of experience. I’m also curious about both of your relationships to solitude.1
LWT: Attentiveness has always been important, even before I understood that concept. Drawing is a way of bringing observations together, of paying attention to detail. I mentioned domestic experience as part of my intrinsic logic. I tend to think of my work as the physical record of what I take in and put back out... And in terms of positive and negative—I just try to make everything count.
“I like the idea that the hand might be a source of logic—that knowledge comes from the experience of ‘making.’”
—Lynne Woods Turner
SV: Kinke, I love this: “To be overwhelmed by nature is to dissolve into a bigger whole. It is an inclusive situation, which is the same as a domestic situation.”2 I love thinking about “the domestic” through the charged, heightened, bodily, sensual, and repulsive qualities I see in your work. I’m curious how the real-life environment of the domestic operates in relation to you, in the mechanics of your working life, or in the particularity of imagery that finds its way into your work? And/or... does it matter?
KK: Yes indeed, it is a big issue in my life. At a certain point, I decided my art is as important as my domestic environment. I am in the lucky position that the washing machine is next to my studio, so while doing the laundry I look at my art. It was a joy to be able to finally programme myself to see these two as a whole. When I had my firstborn, I changed my style into a repetitive way of working so it is easier to get in and out—so I could be interrupted.
Concerning the solitude of the studio, Stefanie: to be by myself in my studio is very important for me, yet I love hands-free talking on the phone with my mother while working.
SV: Stray thought: I’m seeing / feeling play between in-ness and out-ness—definitely not optical illusion, but a more subtle play of movement on a surface, and perhaps the sense that things and shapes are just, both, or many things at once?
KK: How I start a drawing is often by just painting a shape of a plant (or adding q-tips or collage) and then fill in the space in between. These days the space in between become plies or entrances. From there, the drawing grows. From there, also the concept of hospitality originated.
Lynne, you talk somewhere about negative and positive space. Negative space in a way is a giving-or-receiving space. Is the dynamic switching between positive and negative related to giving space and taking space?
LWT: Yes. I think that is an interesting way of putting it. I like the idea that multiple points of view might be built into the structure, and that content might be embedded in construction.
1. “Where Turner’s work extends from Martin’s vibrating fields is in its development of slow, shifting geometries that unite, turn, part, and fold into dimensions that elicit the obliquest of emotions and intellectual reveries. Certainly, this is also a form of devotion.” (Lynne Wood Turner / Process and Patience, Stephanie Snyder).
2. From Kinke Kooi press release “Support,” 2019.