Yvonne Dröge Wendel (1961, Karlsruhe D) lives and works in Amsterdam.
The artist is concerned with the relationship between people and objects, and the quest for challenging new ways of relating to things. Dröge Wendel sets up experimental encounters and aims to capture what it is that objects actually do.
Things have been a source of inspiration for scientists, designers and artists for centuries. Where others try to find answers, Dröge Wendel is engaged in making the questions tangible and personal and her intention is to allow for open-ended results. Her fascination for things led her into wedlock with Wendel, a decorative cabinet, whose name she officially bears since 1992. In 1994 she took her malfunctioning old-timer, a Renault 16, on the ‘Grand Tour’ to Rome to have it blessed by the Pope. Dröge Wendel won the 1994 Prix de Rome for her documentation of this special journey, La Benedizione della Macchina.
Dröge Wendel originally opted for familiar, everyday objects, such as the cabinet and the car. With time, and in search of greater clarity, she began to use objects that were more neutral in their significance, objects with fewer or with no readily identifiable characteristics. Her book Wooden Sticks (1997) that was published after an exhibition of the same name at Witte de With in 1995, is the first exemplification of this endeavour. Wooden Sticks is a collage of different art historical, archaeological, anthropological descriptions of wooden sticks. It also includes drawings and photos that document the numerous ways in which the artist approached the stick, her different perspectives, postures, gestures and moods over the time of the exhibition. Dröge Wendel records all the networks, all the ways of using a stick and she wants to devise yet more ways.
Exercises to see and feel are laid out in the book’s appendix. By following a manual for the wooden stick the reader can feel powerful, holy or proud etc. The topic of the work is how to use a stick and Droge Wendel’s attention turns to the permeable boundaries of things in use.
From Wooden Sticks, Dröge Wendel continued with the aim to make objects that have relational abilities, objects that can listen and do not necessarily want to express and impose any specific attitude. Her Black Ball (2000) which is 3.5 meters in diameter and made from felted wool, is an object that is open to a wide range of interpretations, it is whatever the public wants it to be: a sculpture, an annoyance, a toy, a friend or a tool. The ball is moved by the public through public space, at daytime and at night-time with no guidance from the artist. The documentation of events in Istanbul (Platform Garanti), Bolzano (Arge Kunst), Odense (Brandt Kunsthallen) shows how the public interacts with the Black Ball, how they resist each other, bounce, protest, and how new sets of relations and surprising ways of collaboration emerge.
In 2004 Dröge Wendel presented a series of works that she calls Liquid Identities: highly aesthetic glossy objects, made of large quantities of hinged strip material. Their gloss and their visibly stretchable and shrinkable quality make it impossible for the public to resist touching, stretching and squeezing the objects, constantly creating new forms.
Active participation by the user is an even greater desire in her recent work, her ‘just enough’ forms, which possess just enough character of their own to be recognized as ‘something’, but not enough to definitively identify them. They are neutral, ambiguous, or in her words, ‘challenging constellations of restrictions’. In Item Store (2008), forms are strewn about, ready to be picked up, in what looks to be a purposeful space. The forms are provided with a variety of labels. Balancing on the fence between ‘something’ and ‘nothing’, and possessing those ‘just enough qualities’, they await the meanings that they will all acquire in the perception of the viewers.
Dröge Wendel’s projects have been shown internationally in galleries and museums throughout the last 15 years. Furthermore she works on commissions for public space. In 2004 she initiated the project an Architecture of Interaction, a tool to conceptually investigate interactive projects. With a core group of six artists and theorists she gives lectures and workshops and describes participatory practices by neutralizing the parameters and focusing on quantitative instead of qualitative aspects. She is an advisor for art in public space at Stroom - centre for art and architecture in Den Hague, is on the board of directors of Thami Mnyele Foundation, and advisor for Foundation Butterfly Works.
Exhibitions include: 2009 | Group Process – Radar-University of Loughborough | 2009| 200 Years Prix de Rome, Kunsthal Rotterdam |2008| Deutschland Deutschland, Museum van Bommel van Dam, Venlo| 2008 | Carried Away- Sonsbeek- Procession in Art- Museum Contemporary Art Arnhem |2006 | Reality.Odense.10.55’, Brandts Kunsthallen, Odense |2004| Disorientation by Beauty, Lustwarande 04, Tilburg|2004| Hit and Run, Platform Garanti, Centre of Contemporary Art, Istanbul|2002| Upstream-Universal Pattern- Upstream Foundation Amsterdam |2002|To actuality, AR/GE, Bolzano |2001| Kuona, National Museum Tanzania, Dar-Es-Salaam|2001| For Real, Stedelijk Museum , Amsterdam|2000|Artcom, Smuggle 2000, Hedah, Casino Luxbg, Aachener Kunstver. |1999| City Pity, Workhouse, Liverpool Biennial|1999| City Pity, DAAD Galerie, Berlin| Wasanii, National Museum of Kenya, Nairobi|1999| Une legende a suivre, Le Crédac, Centre d'Art d'Ivry, Paris |1996| Voorwerk 5- Wooden Sticks, Witte de With, Rotterdam|
Teachings and guest teachings include: Technical University of Kwa Zulu Natal, Durban| Technical University Delft| Erasmus University Rotterdam| ArteZ Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Arnhem | Dutch Art Institute, Enschede| Technical University Berlin.
Works in in public and private collections include: Yale University, Brooklyn, N.Y. | Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y. | National Museum of Botswana| National Museum Kenia | Akzo Nobel, Arnhem| Walther König, Köln |Hermann Pitz, München| Sanders- Ter Holte, Aerdenhout | Acad. Kinderziekenhuis Utrecht | Atelier HSL, Amsterdam | Kunstvereniging Diepenheim | Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets, Amsterdam | City of Zutphen| Museum De Pavillions, Almere | Kees van Gelderen, Amsterdam| Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam|