Despite the not-so-fresh quantities of heavy metal oxides still lingering in the air from Oud en Nieuw’s anarchic firework displays, 2012 is minty fresh. Forward-looking Amsterdammers might already be over 2011, but we’re not ready to let go quite yet. Let’s take this transitional time – when last year’s exhibitions have closed and this year’s are yet to open – to further reflect, shall we?
Hereby, we arbiters of lowland judgment present to you the anxiously awaited superlatives from the Amsterdam Class of 2011:
Best (and Longest Sustained) Teaser: The Temporary Stedelijk
Matthew Day Jackson, Ronald Reagan at 100 years old, 2011; Courtesy of the artist and Grimm Gallery
Scariest Brooklynite Invasion: Sorry, Ryan McGinley. It’s a close match, but Matthew Day Jackson's zombies will eat your feral friends.
Best Idea for a Cruise Trip: Elmgreen & Dragset’s The One & the Many in Rotterdam’s Submarine Wharf (not technically in Amsterdam, but if you don’t care, neither do we). From the boat trip to the wharf to the artwork, this exhibition was a total experience and we think you missed out if didn’t go! Bonus points for Least Romantic Ferris Wheel Ride.
Best Candid Investigation of the Past: The SMBA’s Project 1975. In a country (like so many others) that so often defers inquiries into its less-admirable moments in history, Project 1975 is a welcome look at a colonial past as it relates to the present art landscape.
Lamest villain: Halbe Zijlstra. Don’t you love it when your State Secretary for Culture, oh, we don’t know, likes art?
Omer Fast, Courtesy of the Artist and Netherlands Media Art Institute - Montevideo/Time Based Arts
Best Video Art Show: Omer Fast at NIMk. Simply hypnotic, a layered and complex show that also managed to be gripping and simply showcased.
Fast was also runner up for Best Narrative Loop, but the prize goes to Pablo Pijnappel’s Fontenay-aux-Roses, a gorgeous and endless excavation of memory through urban exploration, shown at Juliètte Jongma.
Best Exhibition Display: Mika Rottenberg at De Appel. Each mesmerizing video interacted with the exhibition space in an interesting way. We think this unique show was definitely a highlight of the year.
Most Pulverized Jet Engine: There were some fierce 2011 contenders in this coveted category, but Roger Hiorn’s untitled contribution at Annet Gelink takes the prize. He pulverized the shit out of that jet engine!
Best Press Release: ZINGERPresents’ ‘The Long Day Wanes, The
Best Use of Punctuation in an Exhibition Title: :Hypercolon: at SMART Project Space. The show also features the Best Use of a Body Orifice as a Rhetoric Tool.
Mushroom Paradise, exhibition view; Courtesy of Mediamatic
Most Original Thematic Exhibition: Mushroom Paradise, Mediamatic. From workshops to dinners and concerts, for a while the Amsterdam venue turned itself into the go-to place for all things mushroom.
Highest-Profile Ego Trip: Jan Fabre’s Hortus/Corpus, at the Kröller-Müller Museum. This show touched embarrassing highs in self-reference. Fabre also shares a win in the related category, Best Artist Self Portrait with Penis. His Fountain of the world ties with Jonathan Meese’s Caligula’s feuchtester Traum, Mein Zypressenmaul juckt bis zum Echnackton de Large.
Most Roundabout Rembrandt Tribute: Anselm Kiefer’s Van Gogh Sunflowers at the Rijksmusuem.
Most Monochromatic ArtSlant Post from 2011: Our Queen’s Day celebration of Orange Art.
Alfredo Jaar, The Marx Lounge, installation view; Courtesy of the artist and Andrea Alessi
Coziest Alternative to Capitalism: Alfredo Jaar’s The Marx Lounge at the SMBA was by far the best place to read Engels and Gramsci in 2011.
Gelukkig Nieuwjaar everyone, from ArtSlant Amsterdam!
~Andrea Alessi, Nicola Bozzi and Manus Groenen
(Image at top: Elmgreen & Dragset, The One and The Many, exhibition view; Photo by Catalina Iorga)