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Katrien De Blauwer

she won't open her eyes

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Katrien De Blauwer (Belgium, 1969) takes the viewer on a journey between dream and reality. With ‘she won’t open her eyes’, the artist adds a remarkable concept series to her oeuvre, filled with formal experiments that mark a shift in her imagery.

The work of Katrien De Blauwer is always partly autobiographical. Although she uses material taken from vintage magazines and turns it into anonymous and universally recognisable images by cutting out the faces, she reassembles and appropriates this found imagery into a new, very personal narrative that is far removed from its original meaning. Created in a spontaneous and intuitive manner - mainly guided by her own emotions - De Blauwer’s photomontages depict her personal life story and memories. In a same way, the series ‘she won’t open her eyes’ found its roots in a personal experience, arisen in a period in which the artist experienced a lack of sleep and started to reflect about the concept of sleep and dreams. A book she read at the time - ‘The House of the Sleeping Beauties’ (1961) by the Japanese writer and Nobel prize winner Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972) - would eventually become the starting point of this new series.

Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
Katrien De Blauwer
The novel tells the story of the old man Eguchi and his visits to a house where he can spend the night lying next to a sleeping girl. Descriptions of Eguchi’s actions alternate with the dreams he has in his sleep. The innocence and youthful virginity of the sleeping girls contrasts with the experienced old man, who struggles with his memories and age. Just like Eguchi encounters a different sleeping girl with every visit he pays to the mysterious house, De Blauwer invites the viewer to enter several spaces, each containing one or more ‘Sleeping Beauties’ surrounded by their dreams. By doing so, she shifts the focus of the story to the point of view of the (sleeping) girls instead of that of the old man. The sleeper is physically present yet mentally absent, finding herself in another time and reality. The moon glooms over her, with a reassuring but at the same time ominous presence. The beauty and the sensuality of the sleeping girls - with their bare shoulders, elegant hands and silent lips, so characteristic for De Blauwer’s work - contrasts with their often disturbing and unsettling nightmarish dreams. In the latter, movement and comforting nature scenes (animals, mountains, birds, the sea, ...), are interspersed with feelings of longing and (the incapacity of) wanting to break out. Although it’s difficult to grasp the ephemeral twilight zone of a dream in which everything fades and mingles, De Blauwer brilliantly succeeds to convert this into striking imagery.
The ‘Fake Polaroids’ focus on separate dream fragments and remind the viewer of the purified compositions for which De Blauwer has been known lately. In accordance with the different stages of sleep, they come together in a somewhat confusing, stormy narrative that challenges the viewer to look attentively to fathom the story.
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