Marleen Sleeuwits


She twists perceivable reality, plays with scale and creates optical illusions. Marleen Sleeuwits (b. 1980, Enschede, NL) has a special eye for the alienating quality of seemingly nondescript spaces. Whereas she initially took photographs of such spaces, she gradually began to put her own stamp on them. “I started to change the places I picked out. First by making small interventions, but they became more and more extreme.” For example, she stapled paper towels onto walls, covering them entirely, or bored 3000 holes in a modular ceiling in order to completely transform the space. Since her emergence from behind the camera, she alternatingly assumes the role of photographer, sculptor, architect or painter.
Until recently, she added layers to a space or peeled them off in order to discover what was behind a wall or ceiling.
Now, Sleeuwits is increasingly reusing the inherent characteristics of a place – a new step, which sounds minimalistic but by no means implies a simplification of the image. More than ever, her work exhibits a complex kind of Droste effect: elements are photographed and put back into a space in order to be subsequently photographed again. This emphasis on the recognizable is precisely what evokes a sense of alienation: when the pattern of the floor repeats itself on the wall, and real florescent lights as well as their life-sized images are on the ceiling, it does something crazy to your perception. ”My photos aren’t a window onto a world that you step into as a viewer. It’s sooner the other way around: the other world comes to you and takes over without being asked.” As such, Sleeuwits is exploring the boundaries between two- and three-dimensionality. Whereas a spatial object gains a certain flatness, the flat surface of the photograph assumes greater form. “For me, it’s all about translating space into photography. I open up spaces, lay them bare, filet them even. By continually picking out one element, which I then investigate, I plumb their depths bit by bit.” That investigative aspect also takes hold of the viewer. By scanning the artist’s work, looking for clues, you think you understand it – only to once again become completely lost in dizzying, repetitive inversions.

What was your latest book discovery? What are your favorite books of all time?

Just bought a great recipe book by Ottolenghi called Simple, really like it. Favorite book just too many, next to art books I love to read Murakami and Dutch writers like Arnon Grunberg and Tommy Wieringa.

Most visited blogs, websites? : 

Facebook, I'm afraid but also look at art blogs like; We Like Art, Unseen Platform, Tate Modern.

What apps do you use the most and why?

Nothing hip or fancy, mostly use Google Maps to get somewhere on time and WhatsApp

Whats currently on your playlist?

Old stuff like: David Bowie, Joni Mitchel, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Beatles and Dutch/Belgian singers/bands like Gorki, Andre Hazes, Roosbeef, Selah Sue

What records would you recommend to hear?

Greatest Hits by Al Green

Fresh movie finds? What films do you think everybody should watch?

I like the films of Jacques Tati like Playtime and De Noordelingen by Alex van Warmerdam.

Which artists working today do you admire most?

Felicity Hammond
Peter Puklus
Anouk Kruithof
Esther Tielemans
Thorsten Brinkman
Andrea Grutzner
and Sara-Lena Meierhofer

What are some of your tv top tips right now?

Really loved the series The Handmaid’s Tale

Who are you following?


What tools do you use in your work?

From chainsaws till Photoshop

What magazines / newspapers do you read regularly?

Volkskrant Magazine
Woth Magazine

What are your favorite gadgets?

Can't go anywhere without my iPhone anymore


Marleen Sleeuwits
Laying bare / Solo - exhibition at Gallery Bart
Unseen Photo Fair / Presentation at the booth of Gallery Bart


Portrait image by © Bas Losekoot