In catching up with my blog to the actual status of things, I have a lot of writing to do. At the end of November 2017 a lot of work came together. I had to focus on art production as deadlines came close. However, I kept my ‘reflective eyes in action’ wide open and now I am going through my notes and assembled images.
I went to see a lot of exhibitions in the past two months, both in Amsterdam as well as in Dusseldorf and Koblenz in Germany. Underneath a selection with personal notes added. I set myself the task of limiting my choice towards works of art, that worked for me and are in some way or another relevant to the project I have now in mind. Thus exploring the question what in particular it was that made it worthwhile.
I visited Rijksakademie Open, presented as incubator for artistic excellence, where 23 residency artists presented their works in their studios. The work was rich, hybrid and diverse. My highlights:
Tchelet Pearl Weisstub (1984, Israel / Netherlands)
Theatre and moving sculpture, primarily concerning the materialisation of time passing. The responsiveness of the artist on the space can be felt right away. The mechanical horse with its delicate motions, a vulnerable two channel video which screens two out of frame men who throw each other an old expensive vase, reminding in some way of Ai Wei Wei dropping his ming vase, a mechanical arm swinging out to disturb. Interesting was the physical presence of historic pieces of the academy set in new motions.
Iqra Tanveer (1983, Pakistan/Netherlands) – Meeting The Universe Halfway – 2017
The installation deconstructs the illusion of our visual and physical world ‘taking form somewhere in-between our eyes and our brain’ according to the artist. The simple set up, the clever us of the red spot light that fills in the shadow of the apple, the use of moving image and the moving ventilator: rich in associations to me, installation work where hints of surrealism and conceptual art come together with audience gazes and sensory experiences. A fundamental pleasure to enjoy and to reflect on for quite some time.
Basir Mahmood (1985, Pakistan) – All voices are mine – 2017
In his recent video work he reacts to his first studio space with some fascinating aphorisms and combined projections. A multi-layered work presents the experiment.
Leonardiansyah Allenda – Junzy Oui – 2017
Materials, concepts and identities are exchanged and traded in a global market. Also the aesthetic values were compared in bringing the physical and the digital together.
During Amsterdam Art Weekend I visited several galleries among which The Merchant House with Mary Sue & Elsa Tomkowiak in Making Things Happen, curated by Marsha Plotnitsky and Hubert Besacier. The artists where asked to react to each other during the residency. Mary Sue did several performances as cleaning housemaid which where filmed and projected in interesting ways against the colourful backdrop of Elsa Tomkowiak. Both a vivid display of sweeping through the space, in which humor contributed positively to the apparent role pattern critique.
Annet Gelink Gallery presented Erik van Lieshout’s newest film within a site-specific installation made of branches and wood. The film showed his 4 month stay at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 in southern India. He addresses social and political themes by making himself the subject again in a very personal and critical approach of his surroundings. He always goes on location, whether it is an empty store in Rotterdam, or an island (Die Insel, Emscherkunst 2016, Dortmund) and as viewer you experience his open mind and actions and thus sensorship is never far away. A captivating example in not taken yourself too seriously while addressing meaningful matters.
At Parklicht Amsterdam I touched upon the physical work of Berdnaut Smilde, who showed the work ‘Breaking Light’. His play with physics and in this way deconstructing nature is of fine quality. The simplicity of the concept while bringing the urgent story of man, nature and science relate for me also to questions of the “makeable world”. Let’s wonder again about losing control.
The work of Femke Schaap showed a good example of a spatial projection. She investigates into the areas between virtuality and representation of actuality, which I feel really familiar too. Being there made me realise a shadow-selfie, which could lead to a series, I have made already some, but it feels a bit like leaning on other artists work, which I do not want to appropriate.
At K21 in Düsseldorf Germany the work of Tomas Saraceno is great to participate in. ‘In Orbit’ is based on the spider web, however, as participant one may not be longer then a mere 10 minutes up there, which feels limited. Participation in the arts should be rewarded with time for reflection, I believe.
The work ‘Rundum’ of Inge Mahn (1943, Poland) brings a kinetic sculpture with wit about uncertainty. While turning round as a carousel the glasses and the puppet will sometimes be hit by respectively a glass clapper and a copper bell. The chosen materials made the work look like one of my early chain reactions, which brings a certain memory aesthetics.
Lessons to be taken from these visits, I like art to be:
- physical, simple in appearance, and moving (in two ways)
- making use of techniques that are easy to grasp and leave room for uncertainty
- whatever the subject, some kind of humor helps to keep the attention
- when participation is key, one should be rewarded with time for adaptation and reflection
- with some kind of narrative (as I am missing this often in certain light arts)