Ernie works with modest means. Cut-outs, thrift store finds, precise words on repurposed paper. Like she doesn't want to add something to the world, but would rather rearrange its current configuration. Seen from a distance – digitally or by word of mouth – her work can appear fragile and small. Still, these diminutive collages carry a monumental critique of the current moment. Ernie's words and images show a growing bewilderment regarding the unjustifiable value and amounts of imagery attributed to the supposed uniqueness of one's appearance. The facades of identity carefully crafted for utilitarian identities. A collective quest to honour the famous last words of Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken, 'Show who you are'. Scrolling past bodies posing in front of a sun that is setting forever, picture after picture.
A cut of a scissor can be immensely liberating. Ernie reaches into the grab bag of contemporary culture and beheads images of history. With a sardonic smile – which might be imagined – she then connects the two to form series of new bodies. She calls these human-shaped figures hybrid types, they are blissfully separated from the burden of personality. These little soldiers are always presented in multitudes, to emphasize the pleasure of interchangeability. A place where one can always be the other. Soldiers without a uniform organized as a flattened procession on a wooden board, painted in a sweet pink lacquer. On the second drawer of the cabinet one will find her 'bonsai' artist books. These small, subtle collage-works follow a comparable procedure as the little soldiers. Large coffee table books and catalogues are re-appropriated and cleaned of their pretension and hubris. She makes them her own.
In the work of Ernie Bossman, words and images are given an electric charge through their positioning. Meaning isn't the leading factor. In stead, elements are given importance based on the relation and distance to the things beside it, beneath it or that might follow it. A word occupies a space on a page in a similar manner that a painting can cover a section of a wall. Plastic soldiers with a pompom where one might expect a head are presented with the title 'monochromes'. A colourful parade of miniature warriors which conveys a view of humanity not rooted in progress – with its required imbalance and tipping points – but in a radical equality of things, beyond our limited perception of time and transience.
I'm inclined to call her work abstract. Certainly when viewed from an art historical perspective, the quest for abstraction has been an exercise in reducing reality to systems which ironically could only be devised by human thought. Ernie hasn't chosen expressive brush strokes or geometric chiseling to arrive at her system of abstraction. Rather, she has chosen for a material which is much more naturally abundant in this time of limited resources and the anthropocene, namely images of ourselves and our world.