The Family Letterpress prints for 0/ Divided/Defined, Weights, Measures, and Emotional Geometry.

Overlaps and Meeting Places:
The Work of Jim Verburg

By Hilton Bertalan

The book launch for O/ Divided/Defined, Weights, Measures, and Emotional Geometry will be held on Wednesday September 25th, 2013, 5-7 at Librairie Formats, 2, rue Sainte-Catherine Est, Espace 302, Montreal, QC.

Over his career, Jim Verburg has used photography, video, text, installation, and print to explore his love of modernist aesthetics, emotional matters, and the interpersonal. As a body of work, Verburg’s compelling and extraordinary pieces provoke us to think about relationships, the connection of bodies, shared spaces, doubt, and the inherent work they require.

The Family Untitled (where we’re at), 2011 – vinyl strips on the wall and window.

Verburg’s work is marked by an acceptance of the unseen, the unknown. The pieces in Scenes from Here (gorgeous, fading spots of light and framed, neighboring images of nature and bodies in various states of colour and contrast) challenge not only the often definitively drawn lines of narrative photography, but also suggest the efforts of a stubbornly dedicated emotional cartographer trying to make sense of shifting landscapes and unbeckoned erosions. What is unknown remains so, yet the yearning for it, the striving toward it, toward understanding, is unending. Verburg’s work reminds us of what we are always gaining but also that we have lost something, are always losing something. The hinting, communicatively labeled Untitled (where we’re at) presents two partially overlapping geometric circles demarcated by parallel lines of black vinyl. The viewer is quickly alerted to the overlaps, revisions, gaps, divergent thickets of interpretation, and evaluative difficulties of interpersonal relationships and their dependency upon perspective and location. There is the illustration of a demand here, one that never lets us find a way of taking hold, of clearly defining – subjecting us to the whirling, wrinkling weight of the task of finding a tempo with one another, a companion along impermanent routes, a home in promissory love letters full of honesty and hope. And so we gasp and strain, point out and deny, and ultimately, and to Verburg’s satisfaction, we think and we remember.

The Family Untitled (divided/defined), 2010 – thread, nails, folded photocopy, frame.

There is, in his work, the complete absence of self-indulgence, and instead, the feeling of being led by a masterful and reassuring hand, one that does not simply point out and deny, alert the viewer, however cleverly, to the arrhythmic twists and sometimes unintelligible, low-burning resentments and doubts of relationships. These insights certainly exist in Verburg’s work, but they are matched by a delight in common events, and the bravery and risk involved in leaping forward with someone else. There is caution and celebration, and in One and Two, the concentric lines of trees measuring time and marking distance – here we met, here we folded into one other, here things appeared vividly clear, here we came closer, here we grew apart. This is not only the work of a poetic, patient Romantic, placing us in arresting sceneries, but also a gentle realist who fairly and heartbreakingly stages quiet, prosaic hurt and ordinary disappointments.

The Family Untitled #2, from the series There to Here, 2012, enlarged photocopy, 30 x 50 inches
The Family Option #1 and Option # 2 (from the series I see your point, and I understand your perspective…

The diverse, creative entanglement of mediums – video, photo, text, print, texture, interaction, and installation – draws in the viewer, telling stories of knotted rhythms and punctuated with reminders that our boundaries of singularity are constantly blurring (if we let them), and that the traces of others constantly circulate and resurface. His stories are stirring, beautiful, and contemplative, coming at us in absorbing, reassuring fragments of nature, bodies, light, memory, and love. Verburg reassures us that however precarious and provisional these things might be, we must never stop searching for a place to land, to live, to share. Verburg takes his viewer gracefully to spots of uncertainty and vulnerability, placing us in the inviolate center of relationships, replete, as they are, with unarchivable messiness, fated complications and failures, and intense wonder. And so what is our responsibility to each other, to ourselves, to art, to the natural and social world? “To look!” Verburg might answer.

Text from Hilton Bertalan, Overlaps and Meeting Places:The Work of Jim Verburg. p51-57 Hello Mr. Issue One, 2013, Australia, ISSN 2201- 8220.

The Family Letterpress prints for 0/ Divided/Defined, Weights, Measures, and Emotional Geometry.
The Family The Book’s Cover.
Spreads from the book A spread from the book.
The Family A Spread from the book.

0/ Divided/Defined, Weights, Measures, and Emotional Geometry is an artist book by Jim Verburg made in collaboration with Dazibao, a Montreal based art center and publisher dedicated to the dissemination of contemporary image-based practices. The largely image based publication contains work from an ongoing series titled (I see your point, and I understand your perspective – maybe there is no clear direction, no right or wrong answer. Maybe I’m just seeing it differently – or maybe we’re saying the same thing.) The book is part of a series titled Les portables, which brings together publications which use the concept of the book as a space to disseminate image-based practices. Dedicated exclusively to the work of one artist, each title of the series is a travelling exhibition with unlimited venues and circulation. Devoted to innovative or hybrid work in whose genesis image is present, Les éditions Dazibao is a site for thinking about images and their ties to other disciplines. The book is available for purchase at www.sternthalbooks.com/shop. Listed above are spreads from the publication.