Paper Planes, Current Studies

Sjoerd Knibbeler


The six-storey glass and steel “atrium of light” at Brookfield Place provides a soaring environment for Sjoerd Knibbeler’s photographic visualizations of aerodynamics, natural phenomena, and climatological conditions. Presenting two related projects, the Amsterdam-based Dutch artist confronts the limitations of photography through images capturing intangible or invisible concepts.

For the series Paper Planes (2014), Knibbeler replicated an array of military aircraft designs as paper models and then photographed each one individually. Based on information, technical drawings, and creative sketches that were primarily sourced online, the resulting images characterize an enduring fascination with early technologies and handcrafted reconstructions. Some of the designs are over 80 years old, and while all of them failed to become functioning planes, the ideas endure as they circulate around the virtual world in the form of data. Suspended from the towering ceiling at different heights, Knibbeler’s images allude to the flight path of an airplane’s takeoff and landing.

Grounded on freestanding walls, Knibbeler’s ongoing series of photographs, Current Studies (2013–), are sequenced to stimulate movement from one end of the atrium to the other. Derived from a succession of short-lived experiments in his studio using everyday materials such as balloons and plastic sheeting, the images record the artist’s attempts to shape, encompass, and capture air currents. Minimal in form yet dramatic in composition, they merge scientific inquiry and aesthetic arrangement, and are at once technically intriguing and poetically stirring. Knibbeler challenges the constraints of the flat, still surface of the photograph as he depicts voluminous space, fluctuating motion, and the atmospheric conditions his subjects evoke.

Both series of photographs timelessly and playfully stimulate the imagination as they animate the capacious atrium, resonating with the sky above and its constantly shifting patterns of light.

Presented in partnership with Brookfield Place

Supported by the Mondriaan Fund

Curated by Bonnie Rubenstein