Origin of the Beginning is a series of installations, photographs and videos in which Levi van Veluw draws from his own childhood memories to thematically and narratively develop his oeuvre of self-portraits. Three rooms are covered with tens of thousands of wooden blocks, balls and wooden slats.
Each room is constructed as a life-size installation and is reworked in photographs and videos without the use of digital manipulation. Portrayed in one piece are a desk, a table lamp and a bookcase. The edge of the table is charred and in the video version we see Van Veluw himself, covered from head to toe in wooden blocks, holding a lighter to this piece of furniture. The works suggest a narrative world behind the portraits.
On the one hand these works are a continuation of Van Veluw’s formal approach to self-portraiture, with their preoccupation for materiality, pattern and texture. Yet, at the same time, they are highly personal pieces as well. The repetitive structures seemingly express a ‘horror vacui’ and recall Van Veluw’s youth and his obsessive attempts to gain control over his life by controlling his surroundings. Dimly lit and dark in colour, the overriding tone of these pieces is claustrophobic and sombre, exuding a sense of loneliness.
Automata are objects that spring to life by ingenious mechanical means. This windable object is made from high quality walnut. The crouched figure inside and the cubes rotate slowly, powered by over a hundred small gears.
This work springs from Van Veluw’s youthful fascination for bizarre and unusual toys. As if hand-made by an eccentric 19th-century toymaker, this object is idiosyncratic in its completely asymmetrical form.
By opening the various odd-shaped doors, the viewer looks into a world animated by the figure of the artist. Covered by thousands of small wooden blocks, the maker and his surrounding (mental) space are once again integral to the work.