Galerie van Gelder, 2015

Dirt is matter out of place…
—William James

For her installation at Galerie van Gelder, Ruchama Noorda employs dirt as a central ingredient in the form of fragments of built structures taken from the ruins of two early 20th century utopian communes, together with earth and plant matter collected at these sites. By compressing this material into small circular discs, she condenses the material foundations on which these social and spiritual experiments in ‘alternative living’ once rested into portable easy to swallow medicinal tablets. The pills on display in this exhibition come from the socialist colony of Llano del Rio (1915-1918) in Southern California and Walden (1898-1907) a Life-Reform commune in the Netherlands.

These instant art-works, to be taken with water, come with a fact-sheet; a guide for overcoming the dualistic split between mind & body, the collective & individual aspects of being, the obstinacy of matter & the suppleness of intuition. Combining these earthly medications with personal photographs and material taken from magazines and shared by friends, Noorda creates a kind of probiotic compost fed from a wide variety of data. This convocation of voices and ideas sets out to shortcircuit the opposition between purity and danger by means of dirt & water. Noorda’s installation revolves around questions of essence and seeks to activate that vital spark (élan vital) which she believes to be present in everyday material.