Sara VanDerBeek is the first to acknowledge the influence of an artistic family: Stan VanDerBeek, her experimental, surrealist-inspired film-maker father, and Johannes VanDerBeek, her sculptor brother. All seem to share a lively curiosity, a spirit of inventiveness and idealism. So it is not surprising that VanDerBeek lists her concerns as “memory, experience, inspiration and influence”, resulting in assemblages of found images and objects which she photographs in her studio and presents in final form as framed photographic prints.
The assemblages themselves may include magazine pages, family snapshots, bits of fabric, string, rods, plaster casts, and so on. Calder and Brancusi make their spirits felt, while the sense of suspended animation and randomness echo the films of her father. The fragile constructions seem to be no more than momentary constellations – at any second they might blow away like leaves in the autumn wind. Neither Mrs Washington’s Bedroom nor The Field-Glass has any more solidity than a dream. Despite photography’s desperate attempt to nail them down, these will always be works in progress.
Text by William A Ewing