Once a month during the renovation of DE GARAGE (Mechelen), Kris Van Dessel collected a sample of rubble from the site. In the period from March 2013 to December 2014, he took 22 samples in total, each of which he carefully filtered and meticulously stored in chronological order in his studio, their temporary resting place. These were preserved in transparent containers, which started to form a stacked representation of muted earth colours showing the geological strata of the renovation’s gradual progress. The resulting stack would not have looked out of place in an archaeological research facility. The artist’s subtle presence amid all the activity of the construction site must have appeared quite inconspicuous. This tightly rhythmic series of actions manifests itself in the solo exhibition Sampled History, in which the artist has transposed the samples to the exhibition space in one simple, geo-artistic gesture. He mixes every sample of material with a specific amount of water and applies these emulsions to the walls of the exhibition space, employing a syntax of consecutive, chronological layers. ... Here, the layer-after-layer exposure of erased presentations in the wall’s paintwork makes way for Van Dessel’s forensic detection of clues across the wall’s surface. The carefully-applied pigments are expertly brushed away after a certain amount of drying time has allowed the added water to evaporate. Characteristic of Van Dessel’s recent work is the recurring principle of completely returning the raw materials he has used in his artistic process to the earth.
The substances are returned to their origin — like a field recording played back at the location where it was recorded.
extracted from Sampled History, Beatrijs Eemans, 2015.