In my work I show a fascination for illusion. The spectator becomes aware of 'the bounds' of reality and always appears to be the subject of my three-dimensional work. The participant takes part in my 'performance' by simply being present and by experiencing the environment. I start from a staged view on reality and seek the boundaries between theatre and visual art.
Theatres of Space (published in SOLO, May 2009)
A note on the installations of Maze de Boer
By Catherine Somzé
For a decade now, multidisciplinary visual artist Maze de Boer (1976, Amsterdam) has been creating large-scale site-specific and site-responsive installations. Whether rooms-within-rooms, public space interventions or recon- structed environments, they all have one essential feature in common. Despite their ostensible dissimilarity, they each reveal and play with aspects of their locations which are not immediately apparent: notably, their history. The social and political associations of the space are often the point of departure for De Boer; indeed, they are the very subject and form of his installations.
Tijdelijke halte: Post CS (2005), which the artist built in the basement of the Post CS building, the temporary home to W139, a platform for contemporary art, alluded to the nearby construction of the North/South Metro line via the recreation of a subway platform. [De]constructie (2007), a gigantic, ephemeral archetypical castle made of white clothbound scaffolding, embodied the thwarted ambitions of the inhabitants of Heeswijk-Dinther to see their fields transformed into a productive country estate attraction. Other side (2008) drew attention to the activities of the adjacent Foundation East-Europe through the creation of a trompe-l’oeil mirror device that showed the foundation upside down – a concrete metaphor for the conflicted relations between ‘Old Europe’ and those nations sometimes considered to be on its periphery.
By using the place and its peculiarities in such a playful fashion, De Boer also raises questions that transcend the specificities of his locations. Uitvaartcentrum Outline (2006) and Voorheen de Kerk (2006) were both instal- lations that recreated the previous function of the exhibition space – a funeral home and a church respectively. In doing so, the artist challenged visitors to contemplate religion and death. Beyond the translation of an artistic vision into concrete forms, De Boer’s work endeavors to act as a ‘medium’, channeling past histories. The space guides the artist and not the other way around: De Boer creates installations by which the location is not simply the stage for the creation of yet another space, but is set up to speak about itself. De Boer, who has been working as a set designer for theatre productions since his years as a student at the Rietveld Academy, seems to conceive his installations as self-reflexive devices, which act upon viewers as if they were standing between two mirrors (in this case, the seamless coincidence of the location’s physical space and De Boer’s installation): confronted with the endless reproduction of their own image. In doing so, De Boer coaxes out a multitude of unexpected associations with issues relevant to the visitors far beyond matters of aesthetic nature. The self-reflexive impulse which informs De Boer’s installations’ creation process, paradoxically ensures its own overcoming. One of his latest works Het Atelier (2008) staged a life-size replica of his studio, inside his studio. The only diffe- rence between the model and the studio itself was its flipped orientation; the back becoming the front and vice versa. Plus the fact that it was impossible to enter: Peering though the window of the installation, perceptive visi- tors might understand that, if they had done so from the ‘real’ window, they would have been looking at themsel- ves. De Boer’s theatres of space play not only on hidden aspects of location: Crucially, they compel viewers to become aware of their own gaze.