Prospects & Concepts 2019 @ Art Rotterdam
Installation overview Prospects & Concepts 2019, curated by Macha Roesink
by Marieke Folkers
Prospects and Concepts 2019
In between colourful tapestries hangs an embroidered flag, showing four compass points accompanying an intersection in Tehran. The artist, Golrokh Nafisir, explains that the compass illustrates looking for directions, both literally during her travels and figuratively between countries and cultures. Nafisir’s take on searching for a direction could be seen as a metaphor for Prospects & Concepts, a group show organised by the Mondriaan Fund during Art Rotterdam.
Give the floor
Prospects & Concepts, in its seventh edition, is part of the Dutch art fair Art Rotterdam staged in the former Van Nelle Factory. It shows works from 67 upcoming Dutch artists that have received funding from the Mondriaan Fund in 2017. The purpose of Prospects & Concepts is to “give them the floor.” With many partaking artists from different disciplines, it is difficult for the visitor to decide on a path. In the words of guest curator Macha Roesink: “I do not want them [the artists] to get in a group, but really respect their individual quality.“ The result is a motley compilation where the visitor experiences the need for a constant reorientation.
67 Dutch emerging artists
The exhibited artists all graduated over the past four years. They are looking for a way into the art world. Some stand out with a new take on ordinary phenomena, such as the Instituut voor Huisgeluid (‘Institute for Sounds of the Home’) by Elise ‘t Hart. Her work makes the listener appreciate and engage with noises that are otherwise easily taken for granted. Another artist who revisits everyday life is Esther Hovers with ‘Traveling Salesman’. Hovers provides an innovative perspective on routes in and between cities. She integrates a mathematical theory on the predictability of the shortest route. In addition, she expresses how even a routed walk is never the same. This insight encourages the viewer to pay more attention to not only the route they take but also to the world around them. The positioning of Hovers’ framed pictures can be seen as an abstracted city plan in itself.
Some artists rely on traditional motives or techniques. For example, Bart Kok refers to the art historical theme of Vanitas in his painting of a skull. Rixt de Boer shows documentary-like films of market stalls in Bolivia. Others are trying to be controversial by shaping used pink chewing gum into tiny sculptures (Mischa Doorenweerd), or by putting sneakers on a stuffed donkey (Mike Moonen).
The artist duo Frank en Michiel provides a bustling sensation with The Cameo Series by giving visitors the chance to star in a commercial. The audience is invited to step inside an idyllic mountain scene to be photographed as a model. In doing so, the installation tackles fame as well as typical utopian imagery that is recognised by both commerce and art history.
The temporary walls that are placed into the hall divide the space into different areas. Roesink aims to combine the traditional display of the salon with an arena. The outline is based on Richard Sennett’s theory of “unexpected encounters” in urban planning. The salon and arena are counterparts on all fronts. This directly affects the experience of the artworks in the different structures. The ‘salon-wall’ is 16 meters long and 6,5 meters high and painted a dark green-grey. The wall is crowded with 38 works. Especially the smaller paintings do not receive proper recognition. For instance, Marie Reintjes’ Schnauzer is an abstracted image of a little dog walking around a corner. The few black brushstrokes that form the tail against the pastel squares that shape the room speak to the imagination. However, with its 18 by 24 centimetres it easily gets lost.
On the other hand, the arena is spacious, each wall presenting one artist. Each artwork has room to ‘breathe’, so to say. Samuel Otte’s Dit zijn de afspraken (‘These are the agreements’) is an engaging collage of pictures and letters. It tells the story of how the artist ‘stalked’ a woman by appointment, and took pictures of her in her home and in public places such as Amsterdam Central Station. The project started with a newspaper advertisement, calling for a willing participant. The communication between Otte and the woman – the latter ignorant about the artist’s identity during the process – is displayed. Otte exploits notions of the voyeuristic gaze and panopticism. That is to say, the woman gave her consent and knew the time and place she was photographed, but she did not know in which way or by whom. This places the photographer in a powerful and controlling position. Addressing contemporary questions about privacy, intimacy and interpersonal relations. Otte sheds new light on exposing oneself to others. This goes for his act of photographing, but also for showing the result – including personal and confidential letters – to a large audience at Prospects & Concepts.
Due to the positioning of the walls, some artworks receive a lot of space – and, hence, attention – whereas others are drowning in the multiplicity of stimuli. Curator Macha Roesink confessed she “could not make friends with everyone” and in some cases this shows. Unfortunate placement, the lack of information, and the haphazard amount of artworks prevent equal exposure and recognition. Roesink took ‘unexpected encounters’ as a metaphor, but some the visitors could do with Nafisir’s compass instead.
Part of Art Rotterdam
Art Rotterdam aims to show the latest developments in contemporary art with a focus on young and emerging artists. The 20th edition of this annual presentation of international art production attracts art lovers and art professionals from the Netherlands and abroad. The fair enjoys an intimate atmosphere, and there is a focus on the connection between national and international galleries. In tailor-made architecture The New Art Section is curated by Tiago de Abreu Pinto. For the jubilee edition, the fair has added a centre-stage where AkzoNobel Art Foundation presents part of its collection. The AkzoNobel presentation is curated by Hester Alberdingk Thijm.