Thursday, 12 July 2007


Since completing her MA at Chelsea College of Art & Design in 1996, Saskia Olde Wolbers has gained considerable notoriety for her work. In her films, she uses narration together with bristling and fantastic settings to pull together literary, sculptural, and cinematic elements taking inspiration from contemporary mythology, news, and documentaries.

Creating her miniature sets entirely by hand in a painstaking process that often spans years, she develops her imagery without computers opting for a lo-fi approach with stunning and unique results. She inverts our perspective in paddling pools and miniature sets using diverse (and often discarded) materials.

This ingenuity and tangibility is part of the charm in her work. She subverts our perceptions of the world and brings to life her vision within the confines of our own world. At once, her work is real, tactile, and dream-like.

From a narrative standpoint, her work reminds me of the magical realism of writers like Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar. In particular, I am reminded of Cortazar's inversion of reality in stories like Axolotl and Blow-up.

Her films from a cinematic standpoint have elements reminiscent of Matthew Barney (with whom she has been compared), David Lynch, Jean-Luc Goddard, Maya Derren, Chris Marker, Michel Gondry and Zbig Rybczynski.

In her latest film Trailer, a man is looking for answers after discovering that his parents were B-movie film stars in the 1930s who disappeared in the jungle. He has surpassed his parents age in terms of their preserved image on screen and as he narrates, the imagery passes between an empty, blood-red cinema and structural imagery of the jungle.

The narrative is absorbing, skillful and well-defined. Combined with her strong visual language, it's a symphony. I am eagerly anticipating the opportunity to see more of her captivating work.

Saskia was awarded the Baloise Prize at the Basel Art Fair in 2003 and the Becks' Futures Award at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London. She was born in Breda, Netherlands in 1971 and currently lives and works in London. Her works to date include: Octet(1997), Cosmos(1998), Day-Glo(1999), Kilowatt Dynasty (2000), Placebo(2002), Interloper(2003), Trailer(2005).

Saskia Olde Wolbers (Creative Time) - video/quicktime
Saskia Olde Wolbers (Saatchi Gallery)
Saskia Olde Wolbers (
Trailer - South London Gallery
Trailer - BBC Collective
Trailer - NYArts
Narration Text (Trailer/Placebo/Interloper/Kilowatt Dynasty) - PDF
BBC News - Winning Beck's Futures
Fantasy: Brian Griffiths, Chad McCail, Saskia Olde Wolbers (Tate) - video/realplayer*
Don't be ashamed to cry - Galleries.NL
Placebo/Interloper (Drawn by reality)
Saskia Olde Wolbers (Artforum 2002)
South London Gallery
Chelsea College of Art & Design

* As an alternative to RealPlayer I recommend Media Player Classic

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