Art Rotterdam visits

Art Rotterdam was fascinating this year. ‘Projections’ is the part which I visited first thing in the morning, as the video artist in me wants to reflect on the presented videos as undisturbed as possible. Thereafter I went to see the ‘Prospects & Concepts’, where new talent is shown by the Mondriaan Fonds. Then, I made a extensive walk to view all other parts, especially with an eye for interactivity (not much to be found here) and mixed reality arts which resulted in experiencing one virtual reality work and a fine conversation with the artist Friedemann Banz.

‘Projections’ showed two real pearls in my opinion. Hans Op de Beeck has in my recollection always work at Art Rotterdam and has made incredible work before. I never forget his Staging Silence films which I saw in ‘De Appel’ where the so beautiful staged perishing of the sugar cubes evoked strong melancholic feelings. This year he presents a great suggestive film called ‘The Girl‘ which mesmerised me during 16 minutes. An emotional half-narrative that ends with the poetic sentence ‘water invites reflection‘.

To my surprise it can also be found on Op de Beeck’s website already, and I wonder about their actual selling strategy in this sense. How does his galleries and the studio go about with video art nowadays, is it just for the promotion, is it because a ‘big name’ can afford to do it differently? Lots of questions I got around this issue… Well, enjoy it anyway by clicking on the above link.


Sometimes you engage a work that is really intense. You will not see this from the picture above, but my absolute favourite this year was the collage film from Laure Prouvost. She won the Turner Prize in 2013. ‘DIT LEARN’ is just short of 16 minutes and takes you in with a words and meanings play in a fast forward edit. It is full of open narratives that ask or even demand the viewer to participate. It is fun and serious at the same time, it makes one think, unlearn and reflect on it. Afterwards, I had a fine chat with the representative of Galerie Nathalie Obadia and she gave me the link and password lp100lp100, so I hope you can ‘DIT LEARN‘ here too.


In the ‘Prospects & Concepts’ part there was a fascinating and commissioned psychological work called ‘Homage’ made by Sanne van den Elzen. The work reminds to a Marina Abramovic performance in some way, but ‘Homage’ is both a self-portrait as well as an intimate way to show her relationships. Sitting silent for 15 minutes face to face with your father, mother, sister, boyfriend and other loved ones, Sanne gives the viewer a unique insight in her personal relations and simultaneously in the functioning of deeper human connections as well. Mutual understanding can be felt, although hard to describe, wholeheartedly.


After experiencing the VR work ‘Palo Alto’ in person, I exchanged ideas with Friedemann Banz about their work. About the difference in virtual reality outcome of an artist-work and a technician-work; about exploration without explicit purpose; how changing of technology and platforms makes and breaks the work; how stand-alone packs are best to preserve the work; about the time-consuming learning paths. Also I interviewed a user about his VR experience in this work, which gave me also insight in my way forward. I feel that VR at the moment is much about the different spatial experiences which are to be explorer. However, I would like to focus more on human interactions that can take place in VR too.


Time to jump on: I went to Festival for Creative Technology TEC ART which was also aside of Art Rotterdam. The artist program of the expo here is quickly for me too much a kind of a ‘look what technology can do‘ scene… Just some images and one most remarkable work in the third picture…



The visionary work of Floris Kaayk called The Modular Body is the one to be mentioned here. In a still fictional documentary and other building blocks, Kaayk shows potential consequences of what may happen when living body parts as Lego pieces can be clicked together. What a story telling with daunting aspects!


To finish my packed day in Rotterdam I arrived at Witte de With, transformed in ‘Kunsthalle for Music‘ with an interesting experiment about music, performers and audience settings. Thinking about changing the ‘interface‘ of the normal music performance, no stage, no seating, no guides for visitors, the act of making became quite informal as if you were at a rehearsal.