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After the Fall

Exhibition, Ruskin Gallery, Cambridge, 2019


Awarded 2019 Cambridge Artworks Residency

A multi-layered inter-disciplinary body of work combining photographic processes, writing, three-dimensional artefacts, performance, printmaking, artist’s book and video. After the Fall responds to the aftermath of two unconnected cycling accidents, including my own, both involving head injuries. The work explores ideas around mortality, memory loss, identity, loss, recovery and remembrance.



Developing work for After the Fall started by responding to the text China Doll White, which I had written while living in London. The text describes the scene of a woman cyclist lying unconscious across a street after having been involved in an accident, the last sentence an instruction I did not act upon at the time: ‘I must remember to buy a bicyle helmet’. In the exhibition After The Fall, I connect this accident to a bicycle accident I had in Cambridge two years later resulting in a severe head injury.

To test the functionality of my memory, I learnt the words of China Doll White by heart, the experiment leading me to explore the dynamics of performance, reciting the words with my eyes closed lying on the floor, adopting the body position of the cyclist described.

During the exhibition, I performed twice a day in a gallery space with chapel-like acoustics, adding my physical presence and voice to the exhibition, the performance temporarily changing the show’s dynamics.

While in Amsterdam I stumbled upon a monument to 19th century Dutch painter Therese Schwartze made by her sister sculptor Georgine Schwartze. The sculpture echoed the body position of the London cyclist and I recorded a black and white photograph of the monument, which in the exhibition became a memorial to the unknown London cyclist.

Other photography-based artefacts in the show respond to the site of the accident, address the experience of memory loss, recovery and the kindness and care of strangers, each artefact presented in its own unique mostly three-dimensional form. Two works relating to healing use photographs I recorded at Cambridge Botanic Gardens, green spaces I often visited during my recovery.

Broken, knotted rubber bands expose physical signs of damage and repair, while also creating cohesion between artefacts in the exhibition. The bands also function as a means to reach out to visitors in the space and imagine a world beyond the gallery, exploring new connections and establish new opportunities.

The Ruskin Gallery exhibition (MA Fine Art 2019, Cambridge School of Art) was awarded the 2019 Cambridge Artworks Residency.


After the Fall, mixed media. various dimensions

China Doll White (In rehearsal, 30 July 2019), high definition video, colour, sound, 3:33 min, 2019


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Roelof Bakker, all rights reserved, 2022