‘Frequently the woods are pink’ brings together a body of new works by Dutch artist Paul Beumer and Mexican artist Alejandra Venegas. Both artists share a fascination for nature and landscape, which in this case results in works made from tree bark and wood. The title of the exhibition comes from a poem by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), which relates how the landscape changes with the seasons.
During a recent residency in Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, Paul Beumer got acquainted with textiles made out of the inner bark of specific native trees. The use of bark is one of the oldest techniques for creating textiles and predates weaving. By soaking the bark in water and pounding it with wooden tools the fibres soften and expand. This laborious process produces a stunning ochre coloured material, called barkcloth, which is held in high spiritual regard, but is also used for more common means, such as loincloths. The technique is practiced in Africa, Asia and Micronesia and from 2008 has been inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
For his new series of works Beumer managed to obtain various sorts of barkcloth from an Iban tribe member in Sarawak. In his studio in Kuching he started to experiment with the material to see if he could slightly change the colour. He thereto employed a mixture of lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide, which enabled him to make bleached strips on the material. Subsequently he stitched together various pieces of the cloth to form abstract compositions. To even further the contrast between organic material and abstract presentation he eventually decided to encase the cloth in rectangular single colour frames. The chosen colours are referencing the colours of the sky: from a grey day to a deep blue night to a pink sunrise.
Alejandra Venegas is a contemporary painter who recently started to use an unusual surface to paint on, namely carved wood. She hand carves landscape scenes from various sorts of wood native to Mexico, after which she colours them with gouache and wax. Uniting the natural, warm tones of the wood with stridently bright shades is a contrast she actively seeks for. Incorporating the natural irregularities of the wood makes it much more than just a panel to paint on and gives the work a definite sculptural character. She very much enjoys the artisanal and durational processes involved in the wood carving. For Venegas these works have therefore become a meeting place between painting, sculpture and drawing.
In the same vein as Paul Beumer, Venegas’ interest lies in an intercultural search for motifs, patterns and symbols, which seem to have a universal meaning. Since her childhood, through her artist parents, she has focused her gaze on Asian art, Japanese woodblock prints, Tibetan Buddhist painting, traditional African woodcarving and Egyptian hieroglyphs among many other interests. Her imagery stems from her memories and from closely observing her immediate natural surroundings, being her garden and the mountain close to her house, as well as various other territories. Her works hover between the figurative and the abstract, the real and the surreal. They have firm roots in Mexico, but they speak of a shared human experience and language.
During his art academy studies, Marwan Bassiouni began to carry a thin prayer rug along with him wherever he would go. He wanted to perform his five daily prayers on time. Therefore, throughout the day, no matter where he would be he would search for a quiet and empty space to attend to his daily act of worship. One afternoon, after finishing his prayers, instead of eagerly rushing back to his daily routine, he stopped and looked back at his prayer rug laying on the floor within an empty class room. For a moment it felt like he had stepped outside of time, space and himself. This simple piece of material seemed to have become the trace of an encounter between his faith and his every day environment, which are inseparable yet often separated or divided even within his own mind. And so, he made a photograph, the first prayer rug selfie.
‘Prayer Rug Selfies’ is an ongoing longterm project that now counts over 130 photographs. It is Bassiouni’s diary of an awareness of being in a certain place at a certain moment in time. Every photograph is the result of a need to pray and not an intention to make a photograph. Every location is chosen according to its suitability for a prayer to be performed and its proximity within Bassiouni’s daily environment. The picture is taken after the prayer is finished.
For his solo exhibition ‘Prayer Rug Selfies’ at Dürst Britt & Mayhew Bassiouni made a selection of images from the months of March, May and June 2020. A time characterized by the severe implications of the Corona virus, Bassiouni found himself praying outdoors more than indoors. It makes for a series of intimate and tranquil images, which are connected by an act of remembrance, humility and gratitude.
'Disruption as part of the deal' brings together two artists who have been manipulating strictly geometric shapes for decades: Diet Sayler (1939, Romania) and Ewerdt Hilgemann (1938, Germany). In the 1980s, both artists discovered a form and method that appealed to them in such a way that it still provides the basis for their art to this day.
In order to understand the almost obsessive occupation with their chosen form and method, it is useful to know that both artists are artistically children of the 1960s. In the 1960s, the legacy of concrete art from the first half of the twentieth century was extended and enriched.
But unlike concrete art from the beginning of the twentieth century, Hilgemann and Sayler do not strive for a universal language in which harmony between opposites is achieved, but rather their work seems to shout that harmony does not exist. Disruption is part of the deal. At a time when our system is being thoroughly tested and disrupted, this is a topical and recognizable message that can touch on what many people feel and experience.
By means of a video-interview project with artists, curators, theorists and organizers, Jack Segbars explores the question of authorship within contemporary art production. Through critical reception, and the way in which it is presented, begets its meaning, relevance and form. This means that the wider chain of production can be seen as co-authors. What possibilities arise by understanding authorship as communal e ort between the di erent positions of artist, curator, critique and the platform of presentation as site of production? And what can be its political relevance within the current conditions of artistic production?
Participants: Maziar Afrassiabi, Mohammad Salemy, Charles Esche, Rachel O’Reilliy, Armen Avanessian, Lietje Bauwens and Sami Khatib
Jack Segbars is a researcher within the PhDArts programme of Leiden University. Photo: Guido van Nispen
Animals play a key role in the work of Andrea Freckmann (1970) and Peter Vos (1975).
In her fluent, yet accurate style, Andrea Freckmann paints dogs and birds and places them in domestic environments. Peter Vos, on the other hand, isolates his moths and birds against a neutral background. He depicts them in subtle hues and brushed, soft contours, enhancing the animals’ posture and character by applying a certain geometric stylization. Recently, he also painted young women with birds on their hands, their appearance and expression varying from soft and dreamy to harsh and alert. Abstract shapes are applied to their clothing, related to Art Deco and the flat patterns from Japanese art that influenced painters like Van Gogh and Gauguin in the late 19th Century.
Despite the fact that her images are directly recognizable, Andrea Freckmann’s work also contains a certain measure of abstraction. By isolating the pattern of a Persian rug, or depicting a carpeted and furnished room from above, the shapes become more autonomous and abstract. She often combines more abstract works like this with a small painting of a little bird or a sculpture of an owl, for instance. On the wall of the gallery’s display window, she will paint a depiction next to a small spatial work.
In general, historical events are engraved in our collective memory through music, iconic images from films and photographs. Since last spring we find ourselves in a unique moment in history. We all felt it, but it was not always visible. It is precisely this special moment in time that calls for an artistic interpretation. Over the past months the Hague photographers Milene van Arendonk, Esther Hovers, Christian van der Kooy, Johan Nieuwenhuize, Miguel Peres dos Santos, Nadine Stijns and Sandra Uittenbogaart captured the impact of the corona virus on public space. This resulted in a collection of unusual and exceptional photographs. Sometimes you will recognize the location where the picture was taken, but more often the emphasis is on feelings and emotions.
The exhibition 'Capturing Corona. The lockdown in photos' is a collaboration between Stroom Den Haag, The Hague Historic Museum and Haags Gemeentearchief (Municipal Archives) where the visual material will become part of the collection. Special thanks to Stichting Atrium, the Mondriaan Fund and The City of The Hague. Invitation design: Welmer Keesmaat (photo: Christian van der Kooy).
Agnes Scherer presents her solo-exhibition, The Salty Testament - Part 1: Melancholy of the Apostles, from October 10th till November 15th at 1646.
The narrative installation Melancholy of the Apostles mobilizes sculpture, painting and video to recount and simultaneously prefigure The Salty Testament.
The Salty Testament is a theatrical dance piece that reimagines the narrative of the New Testament under water. This drastic relocation serves to induce a programmatic re-envisioning of the biblical content down to its details. As with the rose of Jericho, the „irrigation“ of the narrative prompts it to unfurl into a liberated, more florid version of itself.
Step into a horizontal abyss inhabited by a mysterious triton, the Christ of the Seven Seas. With his charisma he targets a group of pearl divers who, with each new dive, follow him further down into the depts. The further they follow him, the lower on oxygen they are as they observe the wonders and revelations presented by their fishy Master and it becomes increasingly difficult to tell if what they experience is real.
In the former Ondertussen space Brigitte Louter presents the progress of her comprehensive project aimed at breaking the world record for the world's longest yardstick. Her plan is to present this yardstick in The Hague's public space during an event for those interested in the subject and casual passers-by.
For Brigitte Louter, world records are a wonderful way for an individual to relate to the world at large, through one small and futile action (well-trained or not).
The yardstick can be seen as a symbol for man's attempts to understand the world through one tiny action. Laying a standardized measure next to one's surroundings in order to get a better grip on life. In this way the project is also an investigation of man's attempts to construct, measure, predict and explain a world that often does not relate to our deep-seated desire for order and simplicity.
In 2019 Brigitte Louter received a PRO Invest subsidy to encourage and further develop her work and artistic practice.
Exhibition@Nest and CBK Zuidoost
‘If you would die today and reincarnate one generation later, in what world would you want to be born, regardless of where or who you are?’ This is the question posed to the artists of ‘A Fair Share of Utopia’ and inspired them to create new works for Nest and CBK Zuidoost.
At CBK Zuidoost:
Claudia Martínez Garay
Guest curator: Manon Braat
Can you put your own interests aside and really fight for a better world in the interest of future generations, or is it easier if you imagine yourself to be part of that unknown future? In her essay ”What if We’re All Coming Back?” in The New York Times of October 2018, human rights lawyer Michelle Alexander tries to imagine the world you would end up in if you were to reincarnate at a random place and under random circumstances.
Her essay is at basis of the exhibition. Out of this thought experiment, to imagine a fundamentally different, sustainable and more humane organization of society, the artists speculate about an unknown future of which they themselves are part. Through this exercise in imagination, the exhibition offers proposals for alternative ways of dealing with each other and with the earth.
The exhibition ‘A Fair Share of Utopia’ is accompanied by the publication ‘Wat Niet Is Maar Kan Zijn’, in which ten writers and nine artists explore the possibility of putting their own interests aside for a better world for future generations. They speculate about an unknown future of which they themselves are part. The book is published by publisher Jurgen Maas in collaboration with online art platform Mister Motley.
With contributions from the artists and essays by: Michelle Alexander, René ten Bos, Dean Bowen, Sander Donkers, Clarice Gargard, Sisonke Msimang, Rashid Novaire, Vamba Sherif, Jan van de Venis and Louwrien Wijers.
Opening Thursday 3rd of September, CBK Zuidoost
Opening Friday 4th of September, Nest
A Fair Share of Utopia is an initiative of Nest in collaboration with CBK Zuidoost Amsterdam.
The exhibition is at both institutions accompanied by an extensive context programme.
Keep an eye on the agenda from Nest and CBK Zuidoost for more information.
Writing Writing explores the connotative and the denotative through writing (e.g: literature) and writing (e.g.: composition). The presentation will include six new presentations by designers, writers, artists and critics, conjuring lyrical/poetic form both in text and how it is concocted. Writing Writing is conceived by Ian Lynam, who is working at the intersection of graphic design, design education and design research, and who is faculty at the Temple University Japan, Vermont College of Fine Arts USA, and CalArts USA.
With Ian Lynam, Matthew Monk, Randy Nakamura, Chris Ro, Laura Rossi Garcia and Gail Swanlund
The Alphabetum is an artistic space which explore the formative and formal aspect of (written) language and to show their underlying contingency. One emerges of the other: a letter is a letter, because it looks like a letter; and when something looks like a letter, it becomes a letter. Due to the self-evidence of written language and letters, we mostly overlook this important connection. This can even happen to people who deal with letters on a professional level. Typographers and type designers are primarily focused on the letterforms whereas writers do not see the forms of the letters they use to make their words visible. Despite the fact that we are all dealing with letters on a daily basis, we hardly notice the letters which are manifesting the languages in which we exist.
The Alphabetum aims to sensitise its audience to the phenomena of signs and written language through exhibition projects and events, to reveal the essential meanings of our ‘culture of writing’.
Norbert Schwontkowski (1949-2013) is perhaps one of Germany’s best kept secrets. Yet these days his poetic work is gradually attracting more and more admirers outside his homeland. Inspired by Zen Buddhism, which he discovered on trips to Asia, he would seek the aesthetic of the moment, creating work that seems to touch upon a story, without ever telling us how it ends. Sometimes his paintings have a deep existential theme, and sometimes they present absurd situations from daily life, like a man rifling through the fridge in the middle of the night, looking for something to still his rumbling stomach. But the subject is always an individual in search of enlightenment and inspiration in a grim world. Thanks to Schwontkowski’s dry humour his work is never depressing, however. He often prepared by making quick pen sketches in the sketchbook he always carried with him. Everyone Wants to Go Home brings together some 80 paintings and over 40 sketchbooks from international collections, and has been created in collaboration with Kunstmuseum Bonn and Kunsthalle Bremen, where it was shown previously.
West Den Haag is thrilled to announce Tote Räume, Gregor Schneider‘s first solo exhibition in the Netherlands. Acknowledged as a groundbreaking artistic proposition, Schneider’s work can be regarded also as prophetic in a time of mandatory social distancing since it is based on mechanisms of physical isolation. Unfolding a sequence of rooms, sculptures, human figures, photos and videos spanning four decades of radical art making, the exhibition is arranged in response to, and exchange with, the original function of its building as the U.S. Embassy in the Netherlands from 1959 until 2018.
A clear example to this exchange is the ‘Interrogation Room’ – a pristine room replicating one of the prison cell modules in Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp, the U.S. detention facility located on Cuba’s southeastern coast. When incorporated into the setting of West Den Haag ‘Interrogation Room’ exceeds the boundaries of the aesthetic field and acquires the status of a real authoritarian space, outlining the exercise of power over the visitors and the potential violation of their bodily sovereignty.
Also included in the current sequence is ‘Cold Storage Cell’, which joins ‘Interrogation Room’ to politically contextualize Schneider’s continuous experiments in sensory deprivation and practices of stealth interrogation and clean torture, intermittently conducted throughout his entire oeuvre.
With the display of ‘Cryo-Tank Phoenix 3’ Schneider’s conception of sealed-off spaces extends beyond the political-jurisdictional framework provided by West Den Haag and obtains a metaphysical sense, turning every site in which it emerges into an intermediary zone situated between life and death, between this world and the world to come. A separate section in the exhibition is dedicated to ‘Geburtshaus Goebbels’, which involves the actual building in Mönchengladbach-Rheydt where Joseph Goebbels—the Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany—was born. In ‘Geburtshaus Goebbels’ Schneider traces the roots of Nazi history almost literally, uncovering the physical foundations of Goebbels’ birthplace—the origins of his origins. Within Schneider’s universe ‘Geburtshaus Goebbels’ is also a follower of ‘Haus u r’, the artist’s own site of origin, standing a short distance away from it. ‘Haus u r’ is the name Schneider gave to the abandoned residential building, which he occupied from 1985 until 2001, all the while ceaselessly reconstructing its inner structure as an idiosyncratic typology of visceral rooms built inside the house’s preexisting rooms (with windows in front of windows, walls in front of walls, etc.). Being realized through a process of self-consuming duplication—whereby each room is also the concealed room into which it was inserted, and the space—the difference—between them—makes ‘Haus u r’ an enduring experience of cognitive dissonance in relation to which presence and absence, construction and elimination, are no longer distinguishable from one another.
In the context of the exhibition a series of performances will be staged specifically for the occasion. Additionally to the project ‘Tote Räume’ West will organise an international symposium in November of this year. With the working title: ‘Gregor Schneider: Kunst im Kopf’.
Gregor Schneider (Germany, 1969) is cosidered one of the most influential artists of the last three decades. Since the end of the 1990s Schneider has been presenting solo exhibitions in leading museums around the world, including, among many others, Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris, Museun of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Museo d’Arte Contemporena Roma. In 2001 Schneider won the Golden Lion award in the Venice Biennale of Art, and from then on his work is the subject of worldwide discussions and controversies. Schneider’s practice is an intersection between architecture, sculpture, and performance, intervening in the fabric of material, social and historical reality.
From mid-February, the artist Cesare Pietroiusti will succeed the Taiwanese artist Tehching Hsieh with the second one-year-long exhibition. This exceptional exhibition model is reserved for prominent artists with a distinctly exemplary role. Just like in the work of Hsieh, Pietroiusti is not focused on art as an object, but on life itself as a form of art. Since 1977, Pietroiusti has built up a very impressive oeuvre with a continuous flow of presentations. At West he will show a monthly changing selection of his works in the ‘corner offices’ of the former American embassy. Varying from early works and ‘artworks to be ashamed of’ to works that have never been shown or are new.