Due to the fact that i had left my phone at home (i seem to be one of those rare persons who don’t feel the urgency of being constantly accessible or on-line) i wasn’t welcome at the third venue, but well, one adapts.
Part of the curriculum for professionalism is that the students have to organise their own exhibition.
Which is good, but one must bear in mind that most students are still developing things.
The two venues i visited are on one hand far from ideal for a proper exhibition, on the other hand the rawness of the two places may add to the fact that the ideas on show were still in the making.
As such one can also doubt if it is worth saying something critical about the exhibition.
At the same time, showing something in public also means that your work becomes part of the knowledge and taste of the viewer. Exhibiting means you don’t want the viewer to be indifferent.
Indifferent i never am concerning art, but the actual show did make me ambivalent.
Whether it is the influence of the present crisis or anything else, i felt a general atmosphere of bleakness in the parts of the exhibition i saw, maybe even a bit of a lack of commitment to the handicraft of the trade.
More than ever this felt like an interlude.
In the mean time i wish all students and KABK the very best in these troubled times, and that we will all be able to see your graduation show by mid 2021!
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Doing a Master in Artistic Research is not an easy matter, as what is “artistic” and what is “research?”
Generally too many artists are claiming to be researching.
While art can be the result of inner or outer research – or one may need to research in order to make art –, stressing the research in art means the research itself is emphatically part of the art you show.
However, in the end it is just the materiality of what you show that should make the difference.
As a viewer you don’t give a damn if a work of art is the result of any research; that only starts to matter if, as a viewer, you become part of the research.
To engage the viewer you need all the conventional conditions and techniques.
There is the material object you want to show, there is the space you want to show it in, there are the acoustics of the space and there is time, the space of time you want to engage the viewer in.
Whether you are good at Mid-Atlantic English non-speak or not, doesn’t make any difference.
When showing your work as an artist, you are in fact artistically naked, you can hide almost nothing, and even if you do, the hiding itself becomes part of your artistic nakedness.
That counts for any artist, whether you are a conventional painter or a maker of intricate video installations.
Referring to what i preached before, i must say not all exhibiting students really engage you in their artistic research, although all do make interesting works.
One of the most interesting works was shown by Giath Taha.
The work looked quite simple and open in the beginning, but looking at it in a darkened room made it haunting and even a bit spooky.
A work about space, presence and absence, it engages the viewer completely.
At least that is what happened with me.
Another very interesting presentation was Serene Hui’s at Page Not Found. (scroll up for pictures of her work)
In her work different ideas come together, from the manipulation of Google’s algorithms to truth and fake behind language in a post-truth society.
The different voices filled up the space from different speakers, making it also a work about time and space, while the book titles of the shop seemed to illustrate the whole work.
Generally i admire the way these mostly international students have coped with the present situation, cut off from their friends, families and homes (some may have been in that situation already before) and finding themselves in a world that is suddenly less international in many ways.
Thirteen artists who graduated this year from different departments of the Royal Academy in The Hague (KABK) are exhibiting their work at Haagse Kunstkring (HKK).
They were free to make their own exhibition co-operatively and (as it looks like) in full respect for each other’s work.
It has become a well staged, even quite coherent show.
That in itself is quite surprising considering the very personal content of some the works.
The works on show vary from the relatively simple intervention by Maja Pop Trajkova, which creates, amongst others, a special space for Katarina Juričić’s work, to the sophisticated machinery by Louis Braddock Clarke of which, admittedly, i personally understand not even half, but which gives listening to the world quite another dimension.
Two artists are as lucky as to have a single space for their own.
Catherine Ostraya has the rarely used attic to show her performance (as i was a bit early only a countdown for the action was on show) and Linhuei Chen has the gallery’s kitchen and part of the staircase where she gives a compelling account of the constantly changing position of an artist and a mother raising a family in a foreign country.
Technically speaking the back space of the gallery is probably the most challenging as it contains more or less monumental and very different works by four artists.
There are the stereoscopic encounters with nature by Sophia Wester, the colourful altars for the feminine by Pien Kars, the omnipresence of the giant hogweed by Erik van Schaften and the cyanotypes (a technique which seems to gain popularity again amongst artists) of plastic waste from the sea by Suzette Bousema.
Of course all four works have something to do with nature and archaeology but still the results are quite distinct.
The combination is however quite successful.
One could even claim the works by both Filippo Maria Ciriani and Stella Hyunji Kim are about archaeology, the first photographing the small mining town of Kelmis in German speaking eastern Belgium (just south of Dutch Vaals) and its surroundings, a mining place where they are prospecting again for riches, and the latter looking for what seemingly destructive burning can in fact recreate out of what we once owned.
Both Huaxin Zhang and Moe Kim are trying to create a new kind of authenticity, Zhang extracting a kind of softness from local carpentry in textile, and Moe Kim in a more individual way with her familiarity with artificial light of the high tech world she is used to, processed in textile.
I didn’t visit the show with the intention to make a report about it, but the young artists made such a wonderful effort that i couldn’t resist showing you some aspects; if you want to see the real thing however, you have to hurry, as next Sunday is the last day of the show (it was opened yesterday).
This is clearly a good environment for arts students to present their work.
In spite of the enormous variety of voices, ideas, styles and disciplines they seem to have co-operated well in sharing the space.
That doesn’t mean the different spaces and rooms are ideal; especially the lighting is problematic in many places.
However, as the students are still in a stage of development for their graduation show this kind of improvisatory space may work inspiring.
I especially missed some performances as i always seem to be too early or too late for them, but the whole show can easily be seen in a relatively short time.
Quite a few works are clearly in a state of development, but then any work of art is a development, even if it looks finished.
When i visited yesterday, one of my best experiences was a completely unphotographable work by Yukari Nakamichi in which the concentration of making is transferred very closely to the visitor, although i think the experience is best when entering Nakamichi’s work on your own, without company.
The whole show is an excellent appetiser for next year’s graduation show, and as such shouldn’t be missed.