Jacob van der Beugel – Installation at Chatsworth House
The North Sketch Sequence 2014 at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, UK was
conceived as an all encompassing ceramic experience. The DNA of The Duke and Duchess and their son and daughter-in-law, Lord and Lady Burlington, has been translated into 650 large ceramic panels. Protruding ceramic blocks, organised into four columns, G A T C, represent the mitochondrial DNA of all four sitters. A fifth central portrait has been created that depicts ‘Everyman’. This contains miniature mirrors that reflect the faces of the viewing public, emphasising the importance of visitors to Chatsworth in a more democratic era.
The installation is an exploration of human identity, inheritance and ultimately an illustration of the human condition. The genetic understanding of oneself is tackled through themes of communality and uniqueness. Historically, inheritance at Chatsworth has been associated through the paternal line. Mitochondrial DNA is passed on through the maternal line, thus providing an interesting counterpoint, especially in light of contemporary succession laws.
The work consists of multifarious layers of meaning, suggesting the multi dimensional nature of someone’s identity. Despite all these attempts to capture a sitter’s personality there are elements of impenetrability: DNA blocks that are flush, their meaning hiding behind the surface; glazed blocks that ethereally capture other illusive traits of the sitter’s personality, yet are reluctant to divulge their significance. As a portrait the work renders human identity as layers of unfathomable complexity.
Created by Jacob van der Beugel in 2014 in Stoneware clay and Hand mirrored glass – all photographs by Sylvain Deleu.