The Staple: processing point

The encounter of the staple with paper and color, elements that belong to both art and bureaucracy, produces a visual language that is born from that clash between codes generally associated with an office environment together with those already associated with the work of Patricia Van Dalen. One would think that art is the opposite of bureaucracy, perhaps its release, but what happens when an object as minuscule as a staple is tasked with connecting an abstract element – the following-up of laws, rules or simple instructions – with an aesthetic one, such as the stapled-works (collages held together by staples and not glue)?

The pieces of this body of work, “Postcards: Au bord de la Seine”, present the dilemma of a staple located in a new environment, for it to be out of this environment, and thereby create a new reality. Just as it happens with every person at birth: she becomes a foreigner when leaving the mother; here, the motherland and, with frequency, the mother tongue. As with the artist and her work, when she assimilates, digests, through her own language, that deconstruction of her identity.

In this sense, the staple is the materialization of this new order, a consequence of social law and of creation. Van Dalen manifests – manifests herself– through this process of transformation and relocation of the staple as an immigrant, a piece that, in the beginning, may seem out of place, but that after adapting to that new code ends up being appropriated until it organically belongs to the new space.

The vivid and energetic colors of this series make direct allusion to the moment it was created. It is a palette that corresponds to the colors of summer vegetation on the bank of the river Seine, producing what might seem like a paradox between the cheerfulness of the colors and the unsettling quality of a thin, penetrating and grey element, nailed on (and at the same time uniting) pieces of painted paper.

It is no coincidence for Van Dalen to have chosen as a temporary montage for these pieces ordinary office folders, fastened to the wall with metallic clips, to symbolically reinforce the administrative process by which every immigrant must pass when displacing himself from his country of origin towards another territory.


Raquel Abend van Dalen, 2016

Translated by Ricardo Abend van Dalen from the original text in Spanish, available in this link