`Project 1975` is a two-year programme exploring the relationship between contemporary art and colonialism, organized by Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam. This blog functions as a platform for `Project 1975` and it will inform each visitor extensively about the programme. For more information about Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, visit SMBA’s regular website.
Artist Willem de Rooij, RAW Material director Koyo Kouoh and artist Wendelien van Oldenborgh
10 April – 1 June in RAW Material Company in Dakar, Senegal
It is with great pride that SMBA announces the exhibition ‘Hollandaise, a journey into an iconic fabric’ in RAW Material Company, Dakar. The exhibition was on show at SMBA from 3 November, 2012, until 6 January, 2013. The background for the exhibition ‘Hollandaise’ is the long-standing economic relationship between the Netherlands and the African continent. The title refers to the colorful printed fabrics that are exported from the Netherlands to Africa, and therefore popularly known as Hollandaise or Dutch Wax. It was Dutch textile enterprises such as Vlisco which developed commercial applications for Javanese batik in the 19th century, and found their largest market in West Africa. Today the brightly colored fabric is regarded as typically African. But in fact it is the result of complex globalization processes that exhibit colonial features right down to this day. The artists Godfried Donkor, Abdoulaye Konate, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Willem de Rooij and Billie Zangewa produced new work which reflects on these facts. Hollandaise was assembled by Koyo Kouoh, director of RAW Material Company, where the exhibition is presently to be seen.
HOLLANDAISE was developed during Project ‘1975’ at SMBA. The plans were conceived at the beginning of the project, and it ultimately served as the closing exhibition in Project ‘1975’. Because of this, HOLLANDAISE functioned as the basis for Project ‘1975’, but also as the starting point for the three year long partnership between SMBA and the Stedelijk for ‘Global Collaborations’. HOLLANDAISE first opened in SMBA, with the intention that afterwards it would go on tour to various institutions in Africa. After Senegal, HOLLANDAISE will travel on further to Ghana, Cameroon, and possibly more countries. This process establishes, renews and strengthens cooperative relationships.
Artists: Godfried Donkor, Abdoulaye Konaté, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Willem de Rooij and Billie Zangewa.
Curated by Koyo Kouoh.
HOLLANDAISE is a critical, contemporary art exhibition built around the colourful printed fabrics that are exported from The Netherlands to Africa, and therefore popularly known as Hollandaise or Dutch Wax. Dutch textile enterprises such as Vlisco developed commercial applications for Javanese batik in the 19th century, and found their largest market in West Africa. Today the brightly coloured fabric is regarded as typically African. But in fact it is the result of complex globalization processes that right down to this day exhibit colonial features. Curator Koyo Kouoh, and director of her own art institution in Dakar, Senegal, invited five artists to delve into the phenomenon of Hollandaise and the peculiar trading relations and cultural interchanges that it represents. They all produced new work especially for this exhibition, which after Amsterdam will travel on to Dakar.
Artists: Bernard Akoi-Jackson, Dorothy Akpene Amenuke, Serge Clottey, Zachary Formwalt, Iris Kensmil, Aukje Koks, Navid Nuur, Jeremiah Quarshie, kari-kacha seid’ou and Katarina Zdjelar.
‘Time, Trade & Travel’ set the participating artists on a quest for the historical encounters between Europeans and Africans, in which trade and the concomitant cultural exchange receive particular attention. From their manifold and individual perspectives the artists examined the ways in which the economic and cultural relations of the past are continuing to have an effect in the present. The show explicitly relates to aspects of globalization and transnationalism reflected in the field of contemporary art.
The exhibition is the result of a collaboration with the Nubuke Foundation in Accra, Ghana, to which the show will travel in November.
Christoph Westermeier - Detail of installation Barbarians Classics (2012)
A central aspect of ‘The Memories Are Present’ is the interest in the institutional accumulation of objects, the categorization and display of them, and the objectives related to that. Artun Alaska Arasli, Pauline M’barek and Christoph Westermeier engage with display strategies linked to anthropological institutions, such as the diorama and the practical devices used for the presentation of photographs, masks or statures. In M’barek’s work African objects and the evaluation of them play the central role. Arasli takes the personal environment in consumer society as a point of departure and explores it in a quasi-anthropological way. Through his work he also interrogates the effect that the art institution has on the perception of objects displayed in exhibitions. Westermeier’s Barbarians & Classics (2012) installation references the structure of ‘The Family of Man’ exhibition curated by Edward Steichen for the MoMA in 1955 and re-uses it as a setting for a series of new photographic collages made by Westermeier.
Bart Groenendaal - The Paradox of Being Taken Seriously (2011)
The current exhibition by Gario, Groenendaal and Ruitenbeek can be seen as a break for introspection within the Project ’1975’ programme. This time, attention turns to the Netherlands. The presentation combines two exhibitions and an essay that each focus on cultural systems of classification, seeming certainties and the urge for cultural freedom.
The Paradox of Being Taken Seriously by Bart Groenendaal was filmed during therapy sessions with traumatised refugees who have either been granted, or are awaiting, asylum in the Netherlands. As the film unfolds, it gradually reveals the workings of a subtle power game between the Dutch therapists and their African patients and the emergence, with no evident provocation, of a growing uncertainty regarding the therapists’ unquestioning assumptions about certainties concerning their own country.
In the film Ancient AmateursStefan Ruitenbeek utilizes his artistic freedom to create art in the domain of porn. Under Ruitenbeek’s direction, the actors and actresses then concentrated their efforts on bringing an unusual narrative to life on-screen. Through the haze of porn images and chaos on the set, we see how the people involved in the film, including the artist, seize upon this curious exercise in an attempt to escape cultural classifications.
Cultural theorist and theatre maker Quinsy Gario examines Wim Verstappen and Pim de la Parra’s erotic blockbuster Blue Movie (1971) in his essay in the SMBA Newsletter. Blue Movie marks a key moment in the Netherlands’ increasing perception of itself as a sexually open and tolerant nation. Gario analyses the film against this background and raises a number of criticisms of the much-acclaimed Dutch self-image.
Tala Madani’s work can be characterized by an illustrative stroke of the brush, moving back and forth across the borderline between the clear-cut line of comic strips and an expressionist use of color. Her compositions situate male figures in absurd scenes touching upon the non-rational aspects of human behavior. Against the background of intimate, domestic or dreamlike environments, the figures expose themselves freely and easily to observers. Apparently obsessed, they are completely immersed in the demonic scope of their activities.
Through taking the idea of the demonic obsession as a point of departure for the exhibition ‘The Jinn’, Madani has added a mythological element to her artistic practice. While a fascination for the non-rational has always driven her artistic production, the explicit involvement with Islamic tradition and Arab folklore enriches her practice in a fresh and intriguing way.
The exhibition ‘Tala Madani – The Jinn’ opens on Saturday 10 December. ‘ChitChat’ (2007) is the first animation Madani produced, and will be part of the exhibition at Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam. Watch ‘ChitChat’ online as a preview to the exhibition and read an interview with Tala Madani about her work, ‘The Jinn’ and her current inspirations below.
Vincent Vulsma‘s interests are directed toward the effects of shifting cultural objects across different social and historical contexts, investigating the role that artists and other art specialists have in these processes of value-making. He brings together objects and patterns taken from their contexts in ethnographic collections and the canons of modernist design and photography, deliberately moving back and forth along the lines between what is classified as commodity, art or ethnographic object.
The central object of ‘A Sign of Autumn’ in the SMBA is a Baulé mask, a loan from the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. The mask came to Vulsma’s attention because of its rich acquisition and exhibition history. Other elements of the exhibition are a series of large-scale Jacquard-woven reproductions of Kuba-textiles and a series of assemblages, combining a selection of stools made in the Congo (probably around the 1930s) with a set of Ray Eames’ Walnut Stools, which were designed in 1960 and which are still industrially produced and commercially distributed today.
Overview of the exhibition ‘Informality’.
With work by Domestic Workers Union / Matthijs de Bruijne / Detour, Doug Fishbone, Kaleb de Groot, Jose Antonio Vega Macotela, Marc Roig Blesa, Rogier Delfos, Senam Okudzeto.
Kaleb de Groot, Cardboard, handmade, from ‘Jan who saw it all’ (Barbara Visser, 2004), 2011.
Domestic Workers Nederland (with Matthijs de Bruijne and Detour), You are so nice! Could you work two more hours today?, 2011. More →
The exhibition ‘Informality’ arises from the increasing attention being given to the role of banks in our economy, and the interest in alternatives to their role. It is also a first reflection on the role of art and artists in an atmosphere of crisis and cuts in cultural funding. The exhibition focuses on informal economy, that part of commercial and the service sector that operates outside of the circuit of formal financial transactions, and examines this phenomenon from the perspective of art, involving certain informal aspects of the art world itself in doing so, including the precarious position of the artist in society.
With work by Domestic Workers Union (Matthijs de Bruijne and Detour), Doug Fishbone, Kaleb de Groot, Jose Antonio Vega Macotela, Marc Roig Blesa, Rogier Delfos, Senam Okudzeto.
Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam proudly presents the first large-scale solo exhibition by Mounira Al Solh in The Netherlands. Al Solh’s work can be described as an inner conflict with social environments which impose national, cultural and religious identity. In that sense it is a reflection on the social and religious tensions in the country of her birth, Lebanon, which has undergone several civil wars and still occupies a sensitive position in the present eruptions in the Middle East. But here in The Netherlands one’s origins and culture are becoming an increasingly important aspect in social intercourse too. Al Solh approaches this fact with a mixture of autobiographical elements and humour – because how else can one approach censorship, repression, schizophrenia and the discordant culture in which everyone has a role?
A considerable part of the exhibition is devoted to the work of the figure Bassam Ramlawi. Ramlawi is a juice seller in Beirut who has studied art in The Netherlands, and since done portraits of people from around his shop in Beirut. A documentary shows that he is familiar with the oeuvre of Cindy Sherman and with a famous portraitist of the inter-war period, the German artist Otto Dix, but above all he admires the work of the Dutch artist René Daniëls.