Ilke Gers

artistiek onderzoek - experimenteel - installatie - performance - Taal

I'm a visual artist, working with installation, performance and publications that bring movement, behaviour, social and spatial conditions into play.

Investigating the human body in designed systems, my work explores the way our movement and behaviour is choreographed by the rules and conditions of our environments. This has included making physical games and structures, open-scripted performances, and more recently installations as interventions into the instructional language imprinted in urban space – to experiment with how given structures can be re-imagined by generating a space for encounter and experience.


Desire Lines (NDSM-Werf, 2020) - A site specific work in which chalk lines, curves and shapes connect the various spaces that make up NDSM Werf. These markings act like a language or mark-making system, made in response to the use and rhythms of the area. The markings in turn affect how the space is used, as pedestrians, bikes and cars respond to the non-directional, non-instructional markings, referring to 'desire lines' as informal pathways created through the intuitive use of a space over time.
Snakes and Ladders (A5 Project Space, Amzei 5, Bucharest, Romania, 2019) - A steel installation, made out of gas pipes found around buildings in Bucharest. The structure references the board game 'Snakes and Ladders', a vertical game of chance in which the goal is to climb to the top to win. From the outside of the gallery the construction looks like an empty billboard structure, commonly found in the city, suggestive of economic and political shifts and downturns. Upon entering the space, the structure turns into a playground that can be engaged with. The structure is painted the pastels of former communist apartment blocks in the city.
Floralien (Biënnale Van België, Floraliënhal, SMAK, Ghent, 2019) - An exploded alphabet, written with a sports field chalk line marker in 100kg of flour, in response to the expansive 600m2 hall formerly used for flowers and garden shows.
Playmachine (Kunstencentrum Vooruit, Ghent, 2019) - A tape installation in the Vooruit concert hall, forming part of the scenography and underlying structure for the program of performances during Night Shift. While working as a script or 'machine' for performances that take place on and around it, the work breaks the symmetrical and linear language of sports fields markings and plays with the potential of alternative markings and signals for movement.
School games (Coincidences/Coïncidenties, Platvvorm, Deinze, 2019) - Responding to an empty sports field in a former school, the letters spelling the word 'SCHOOL' are drawn with the chalk marker as lines for a sports field - or a 'language field'. The scale and composition of the letters give the initial impression of being actual sports field markings, but on closer inspection it becomes visible that the field is asymmetrical and irregular - producing a crossover between the codes that make up the rules of sports and the codes of language structures. Drawn as a performative action with the audience seated on stands inside the field, the action suggests that of a game in which rules / language is produced, and the audience is part of. The resulting chalk installation remains on the eld until it eventually wears away.
ABCs (Design Museum Ghent, 2017) - The alphabet is written in chalk with a sports field line marker on the road in front of the Design museum Gent - an in-between space between private and public. The performance is based on road 'screed' marking, a technique used for the freehand lettering of official signs and warnings on roads. As a kind of 'writing with the body', the idiosyncrasies of human shaped letters become part of the alphabet as a holder of language. Misshapen letters remain and are repeated, so that it becomes a 'test' alphabet, placing the focus on the body within a designed system of language to which it tries to adapt through movement.
The Vienna Convention (Public Works, Joey Ramone, 2017) - This work is part of an investigation of road marking and signage systems, and the actions of workers who create these public signals - connecting labor, movement and reproduction to addresses the processing and standardization of language and the human body in designed systems. The movements of workers - who often use idiosyncratic and site-specific, improvised techniques - is linked with the behavior of pedestrians who utilize or respond to their public work as a social choreography. The 'Vienna Convention' is series of 23 drawings (ink on paper, 42 x 59cm) that reflects on the standardization of European road signs by investigating how one of the most elemental road sign symbols - a white circle with a red outline, signaling that roads are 'closed to all in both directions' - is interpreted by different European countries. The idea of ​​a controlled and standardized signage and communication system is approached by means of reproducing this sign, as used by twenty-eight European countries, with ink on paper. Taking into account size, color and shape, the signs are reproduced in relation to each other rather than from an of official 'correct' sign. The process is further removed from the sign's standardizing intentions through using analogue techniques and materials, including hand markings and mistakes as it is processed through my body.
How it makes you move (Kunsthuis Syb Triennale, Beetsterzwaag, 2015) - A project investigating the possibilities of collaboration, freedom, invention and agency within rule based games. I conducted a series of workshops with local schools over six weeks, which resulted in a performance in which group of children demonstrate how to play games that were developed. Based on collaboration rather than competition, the games include drawing the playing eld markings and boundaries as part of the actual game, and unconventional collaborative movements. The new games were introduced to the audience by the children, who after demonstrating them invited the audience to join in playing them.
Organised Game (Jan van Eyck Academie, 2014) - A game field is presented as an open script for bodies to move through and negotiate a pre–set environment. Allowing for improvised responses, the script subverts the goal oriented mechanics of competition, through creating the conditions in which teams, positions, allegiances and goals are under constant negotiation. In this way players slowly start making their own rules as they play the game through collaboration. The shape of the field in this iteration of ‘Organised Game’ is adjusted to the exhibition space at the Jan van Eyck Academie and created and tested with participants during a workshop. Using coloured tape and situating the viewing area for the audience in close proximity to the game creates a physical relation between audience and players.
Art at Large (Published by Artez Press, 2013) - As the 'designer' of a book of theoretical texts on performance and installation art, written by Marga van Mechelen, I hand wrote the entire 70,000 – word text as a durational performance - bringing my own body and experience into the content, and intervening in the process of mechanical reproduction. It implicates the reader as an active audience in the performance, having to contend with the idiosyncrasies of text formed by a human hand rather than the uniformity of processed mechanical reproduction.