I’m not a gambling man by nature, never quite understood the allure of the blackjack table or roulette wheel. But when Aukje Dekker invited me to a game of Stick or Twist I couldn’t resist.
The game starts at 150 euro. Dekker’s ante is an empty canvas. When she adds something to the painting my deposit increases by 50 euro. At every stage she asks me whether I’ll “stick”—in other words, buy the work as is—or “twist,” and go for another round. I... [more]
Is it a sculpture? A political indictment? A social activist gesture? Or maybe some form of contemporary historiography? It’s not really clear how to define or classify Ryan Mendoza’s Detroit House. One thing’s for sure, though: it’s not a house.
You could easily be fooled into thinking it is. It’s got a roof, walls, a porch, windows, and a door you can enter through. It lacks, however, neighbors, a path or driveway leading up to it, a connection to the local power grid, a foundat... [more]
Whether they’re doing residencies or research, teaching or travel, or whether they’re simply responding to the contingencies of affordable and available studio space, artists today are in constant motion. What’s the marker of the artist’s studio in this peripatetic climate? Is the artist’s “desk” a piece of furniture, an anchored object? Or is it something they can pick up and carry away—a laptop or notebook that travels with them wherever they go?... [more]
Great Art Reduced to Origins in What about Africa? by Edo Dijksterhuis Dawit Abebe, Zarina Bhimji, Vitshois Mwilambwe Bondo, Phoebe Boswell, Gopal Dagnogo, Omar Victor Diop, Meschac Gaba, Nour-Eddine Jarram, Hamid el Kanbouhi, William Kentridge, Thierry Oussou, Kura Shomali, Ephrem Solomon, Barthélémy Toguo at Witteveen Visual Art Centre
January 23rd - February 27th
What about Africa?, at Witteveen Visual Art Centre in Amsterdam, is an exhibition with top-notch art on display. At the same time, its concept is highly problematic. The show brings together works by fourteen artists, who have little in common besides being African. They hail from countries like Morocco, South Africa, Benin, and Kenya—places removed from each other by the full length and breadth of a vast continent. In terms of social background, national history, or ethnicity the particip... [more]
“These photographs are actually racist.”
I was shocked, to put it mildly, to hear my friend deliver this verdict of the Dana Lixenberg show at Huis Marseille. How could she say this of a body of work universally applauded for offering a respectful alternative to the stereotypical depictions of African-Americans? “They all look aggressive and arrogant, even the babies, and there’s hatred of white people in their eyes,” she retorted. “Lixenberg made them pose that way,... [more]
“I miss my pre-internet brain,” says the sticker handed to visitors of Bit Rot. The text brings an affirmative smile to faces—or is it more of a smirk? This kind of dry humor with a nostalgic tinge and an air of fatalism is difficult to process without some feeling of ambiguity. It’s typical for life in the early 21st century. Things are moving ahead so rapidly that we’re constantly trying to catch up but never really do. The technology driving us forward grows faster a... [more]
Weapons manufacturers and tobacco industry are an obvious no-no. Most banks are iffy taking into account the financial sector’s ethical track record. The same is true for the fraudulent likes of Volkswagen. Times are tough for investors with a conscience. Where can you deposit your money and be sure it won’t have negative effects? Well, you could invest in a museum. The Cobra Museum in Amstelveen offers bonds to help finance its shows. Last year’s From the Guggenheim Collection to the... [more]
Even 30 years later, you cannot feel but sorry for the poor French TV journalist who interviewed Robert Frank in 1984. He must have been quite happy before filming—he had succeeded where most important magazines and newspapers had failed: actually securing an interview with the most influential photographer alive. But everything goes awry right from the start. “I hate these fucking interviews,” is the first thing that comes out of Frank’s mouth. Lots of expletives follow,... [more]
Thank God for a new generation of artists! Today’s emerging artists stay away from the pushy know-it-all attitude of macho modernists who for half a century were quick to dismiss as inferior anyone supporting a dogma not their own. Neither are they infected by the postmodern virus of egalitarianism, which in the end robs everything of value and reduces art to an ironic game of smart references and endless footnotes. Artists of today are not afraid to shop around for culturally diverse icono... [more]
The Mona Lisa, Vermeer’s Milkmaid, Fabritius’ Goldfinch. At the time of their creation they were considered exceptional works, no doubt. But only by a limited audience. These works hung in private homes or palaces, exclusively on display for their owners and the occasional visitor. This changed dramatically with the advent of the museum in the eighteenth century and even more so with the museum’s transformation into a fully-fledged public institution two centuries later. At the Louvre, Rij... [more]
The number of tourists pouring into Amsterdam increases steadily every year. Obviously Madame Tussauds, the Anne Frank House and—of course—the red light district are popular destinations, but in the last decade or so museums have become a serious pull-factor. Number one on the list is the Rijksmuseum, welcoming more than 2.4 million visitors in 2014 and on track to break that record this year. For the exhibition Late Rembrandt alone half a million tickets were sold.
Besides happy faces... [more]
The small Dutch city of Utrecht is receiving worldwide attention this weekend as its charming canals and cobbled corridors play host to Le Grand Départ: the launch of the Tour de France, which hits the road on Saturday.
As with any major sporting event, the rights to host Le Grand Départ are as much rights to major commercial and tourism opportunities as they are to the Majesty of Sport. Naturally, Tour merch abounds and nearly every shop in town has a decorated Peugeot racer, sleek... [more]
Roughly one sixth of the Netherlands was once covered by water and has over the centuries been reclaimed with dikes and windmills. The latest addition to this growing mass of new land is the so-called Centrumeiland (Center Island), a slender strip attached to Haveneiland (Harbor Island) of Amsterdam's new IJburg housing estate. Some 800,000 cubic meters of sand were deposited, layer upon layer, to create space for much needed homes to accommodate the city's rapidly increasing population. Construct... [more]
In early 2012 Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós challenged filmmakers to create videos for their album Valtari. Photographer Ryan McGinley chose the song “Varúð,” an eight-minute dream narrated by a raspy head voice over an unsteady piano and transparent strings. In his video a barefoot girl in a glittery gold wig and a washed-out blue nightie skips through the streets of New York City in slow motion. She passes trucks, taxicabs, construction workers, and business men, m... [more]
When Dries Verhoeven decided to put himself—and all his Grindr dating app interactions—on public display in real time in Berlin last fall, he had no idea the sort of community outrage he’d be met with.
Now the Dutch artist’s controversial performance Wanna Play? Love in Times of Grindr is back—with edits—after its Berlin debut was shut down 5 days into a 15-day run last October.
For the duration of the performance (10 days in its current iteration) Verhoeven lives... [more]
In the fall of 1987 John Knoll and his girlfriend Jennifer flew to Tahiti. For months they’d been working on the computer graphics of the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit and they needed a well-earned rest. It was at the pristine Bora-Bora beach that Knoll took a photograph which in the decades ahead became an icon of international geekdom: Jennifer, seen from the back, sitting topless on the white sand with the almost fluorescent blue ocean as backdrop. The picture would have remained just an... [more]