Elke Desutter (1987) is a visual artist living and working in Bruges, Belgium. Elke obtained her Master’s degree at the KASK/School of arts Ghent in 2011, after which she won the Provincial Prize for Visual Arts of West Flanders. In recent years she helped realize and curate projects such as ‘Bokashi be’, ‘Inside/out’ and ‘Passie & Obsessie’. Individual projects such as ‘Donate Yourself’ and ‘the Book of Bruises’ start from an archive of images that she herself documents through open calls. Themes such as objectification, censorship, pareidolias and the body itself occur throughout Elke’s work. Her practice explores the literal objectification of the body through photo and video collages, installations and assemblages.
While creating a new piece of art Elke Desutter is fascinated by creating one’s own visual language by means of images, manipulating and controlling the matter completely. Her starting point is a fascination with the human body and how people relate to that body. She takes the body out of its context so it becomes something new by using media such as video, photo collage and installation, she explores the body in all its forms. The body is literally objectified, but not as an object of lust. Body parts are reduced to objects and shapes that are combined to make up a larger mass of bodies. Everybody undergoes multiple changes in their body. From child to young adult to adult and to senior. Lots of those changes make people dwell more on the body and its needs and desires. Although this lust and desire is often a topic when the naked body is used or presented. But it is not what drives her work as she wants to remove the sexualisation completely and disconnect the body from its known shape and form. The body is often sexualized. This continued sexualisation of the body overpowers someone’s view point and takes away the ability to see the body purely as a body and a form. The author strives to reinvent the body and challenge this view point while pulling the overly sexual gaze away from the viewer. She wants to separate (figuratively speaking) the body parts from the body and the individuals that we know. The body parts are merely a shape or form for Desutter to manipulate within the artwork, moving away from a consciously sensual or sexual approach towards the body. She uses skin tones, limbs, shapes, contours and imperfections as a foundation to challenge a viewer’s perspective of the body. Within her work she doesn’t make a distinction between gender, ethnicity, age… Everyone is brought together in one ‘Body of Bodies’. The viewer sees the body in its purest form, nude and with all its imperfections. Shown as it is but out of its context. As a spectator we tend to look for recognition. People always want to understand what they are looking at. This is something she tries to incorporate in her art – the constant need to search for recognition. She makes the familiar unrecognisable. This way she creates pareidolia. What the viewer thinks he sees or recognizes is not actually there. The urge and instinct to read a situation quickly leads the spectator or rather misleads the spectator.