Saskia Olde Wolbers

Selected works by Saskia Olde Wolbers

Saskia Olde Wolbers



6 minute loop

Often taking the inspiration for her stories from actual news articles, television documentaries, and urban legends, each of Saskia Olde Wolbers films narrate fictional biographies into complex backgrounds of global politics, neuroses, and contemporary mythology. Loosely based on the real life story of a man who convinced his family he was a doctor for over 20 years, Olde Wolbers’s Placebo and Interloper videos explore the dynamic of relationships, identity construction, and co-dependence.

Set in a hospital after a car crash (a failed murder-suicide attempt), Interloper tells the story of a troubled love affair from the man’s perspective. As he has an out of body experience on the operating table, he narrates his version of events, with fact and fiction unravelling in a chilling stream of consciousness, revealing the horrors of wilful deception, mental illness, self-delusion, and medical experimentation.

Presented in the format of documentaries, Olde Wolbers edits sequential images to support a voice-over. Her work often attains a science-fiction aesthetic, which replicates the surreal quality of dreams. Olde Wolbers doesn’t use computer animation to create her futuristic images, however. Intricately constructing each set by hand – a process which can take years – Olde Wolbers develops each environment in miniature in her studio. In Interloper, the hospital is actually a modified cage submerged inside a fish tank; the lava-like effect was achieved through a similarly lo-fi process, asserting the veritas of film over digital illusion.



When an artist builds a backlog of video works that tell stories, it might occur to the observer that their art is only a handshake and a large cheque away from Hollywood. Mostly the question never arises because artists who make video customarily build into the fabric of their work a marked hostility to everything that makes Hollywood successful. Somewhere along the line, video art set its stall against mainstream movie making as a deliberate and systematic resistance to big business, culture-by-numbers, celebrity and the commodity form; nowadays, however, the innovations of video art are adopted as much for their cultural pedigree as their subversive promise. Saskia Olde Wolbers is a video artist who takes none of the dysfunctional devices of video art for granted. She doesn’t use every trick at her disposal to undermine the stories she tells. Her artworks are therefore a rare hybrid: narrative video that is as intelligent as it is engaging.

Olde Wolbers gathers stories from newspapers, TV documentaries, dinner party conversation and heresay to tell the stories of unhinged individuals who go too far. They are people who live for their dreams, and they live them out no matter how preposterous those dreams might be. In Octet, a young woman tells the story of how she inhaled a potent dose of fertilizer before having sex with her randy husband. She becomes pregnant with eight and is so engrossed with the idea of publicly commemorating the event - in the form of a float in the village procession - that she forgets to consider the advice given to her to abort some of them for the sake of the others.