Social Sculpture / Chikako Watanabe 21/05/05 – 09/07/05

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Social Sculpture

An exhibition curated by Sophie Berrebi

Jean-Baptiste Ganne (b. 1972, lives and works in Amsterdam)
Saskia Janssen (b. 1968, lives and works in Amsterdam)
Carey Young (b. 1970, lives and works in London)

Social Sculpture brings together three artists of the same generation whose works explore in different ways the (im)possibility of the political. Drawing upon strategies of representation derived from, or alluding to, documentary formats and performative practices, their works reflect a certain scepticism as to the ability of words and images to convincingly convey political ideals. The awkwardness or, in Martha Rosler’s terms, ‘inadequacy’ with which words and images describe specific situations is here sharpened by juxtapositions that suggest the collapse of political idealism. Jean-Baptiste Ganne’s series of photographs aim at illustrating chapter headings of the book one of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital with documentary images of everyday life. His enterprise evokes both an ingenuous desire to see if Marx’s analysis of industrial society still holds true today, and the inevitable discrepancy between past and present, theory and reality. The result, Le Capital Illustré foregrounds the awkward relation between image and text: neither one quite lives up to the expectations aroused by the other. Images and words are put to the test, drained, as if to see how long they could carry on being meaningful.
Carey Young’s reworking of Joseph Beuys’ concept of social sculpture, transforming his rolls of felt into a roll of beige office carpeting entitled Social Sculpture, looks back to a time where art and politics could be one, and seems imbued with bittersweet irony and humour.
Saskia Janssen’s video and photography installation Smoke, Smog and Fortune, puts into practice the ambivalence of political action and social engagement. Overturning market laws by paying workers to be idle, she portrays a group of Ukrainian men, an invisible workforce in the Czech republic, resting on their workplace, asleep in the green paradise of the park surrounding Brno’s House of the Arts.

Sophie Berrebi is an art historian, curator and lecturer in the history and theory of Photography at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

Sophie Berrebi’s homepage


Dolores


Chikako Watanabe


chikahome – 2005/Amsterdam/NL

After coming to the Netherlands in 1995, Chikako Watanabe has been to many countries where she created new works through “learning something new from local residents”. By using various mediums such as fashion, drawing, photography and video, she made installations that functioned as interactive platforms collaborating with different people in the form of performances and workshops. New installation for this exhibition ”chikahome – 2005/Amsterdam/NL” is based on 2 stories. Last year Watanabe was invited to research and make an installation for the 100th anniversary festival of Huize Assisie, a small village where mentally and/or physically handicapped people live, located in Biezenmortel, between Tilburg and ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands. In this area she met many different kinds of people from the neighborhood including a geologist and a stained glass maker. One story was born from this experience. The other one is an everyday life story from Amsterdam.

“Since I came to Amsterdam from Japan my sense of normality regarding daily life has had to change. For example, I have experienced being a majority or a minority in unexpected circumstances – such as being one of a few non-handicapped in a handicapped village – or finding myself as part of a majority of foreigners living in my neighborhood in Amsterdam where 114 nationalities are registered. These shifts caused a tremendous revolution in my point of view and introduced me to new types of fear and values which have been the key to new thoughts in my work about how we can live together on this planet.”

  • When you see our planet as a man, the magma in the center is as the blood in a man
  • When a man screams, so does the earth. How can we live together in peace?
  • We human beings are like microbes living on the surface of the earth

During the exhibition period, questions that spring up in her mind day to day will be transformed into drawings and images, and added to the gallery space.
The centerpiece of the installation is a ‘landscape’ made of yarns recovered from a former textile factory in Tilburg. The floor piece represents the landscape of this area and the artist intends visitors to lie back on it and watch videos projected on the ceiling. During the exhibition items of clothing made from the same textiles will be integrated with rug – at the opening however – these garments will be worn by models mingling among the visitors.

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