Schipbreukeling – Mathieu Charles

Sunette L. Viljoen

Sunette L. Viljoen (1985, Mbombela, South Africa) is a visual artist living and working in Berlin. Her sculptural installations often include painting, photography, printed matter and objects. Frequently site-specific, the work takes into account architectural and historical contingencies, as well as an awareness of how one encounters space and the larger context that informs what one sees. By adapting to a given situation or context, whether it is a historical site, institutional framework or an archive, her work searches for a way to model the conditions that complicate a place. Smaller components are put together to make up a larger work, and it is how these parts sit together that is of interest. The parts often manifest a process of making and becoming, her practice follows a methodology where intuitive decisions are systematically reworked. With elements that seem to short-circuit between blurring and obscuring, distance and proximity, tactility, tangibility and clarity, it is an approach that laterally links vision, architectural space and social context. Viljoen earned her MFA from the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art in South Africa in 2012. She was a participant at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht in 2014 and is currently a fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart.


The framework for this work overlaps the context of the Second World War history of the aeroplane hangar and the cultural implications of the long-running sonsbeek art exhibition with pavilions.

The hangar is set within a military compound built by German occupiers during the Second World War. It is now an empty, dilapidated rijksmonument. HOC OPUS HIC treats the hangar as a pavilion, displaying the ‘Sonderbau’-building designed to avoid attracting attention. The work complicates the encounter with a reluctant monument, opening it up and filling it with the only function it seems to have now: to be looked at. Site access is altered; a path leads to the building through a reopened back entrance. Historical bricks on loan from the local municipality are stacked in the space. They display their blank historicity, as something dismantled, extracted or ready to be inserted into another context.

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