On the political potential of art in a changing society. The artists Jonas Staal, Vincent W.J. Van Gerven Oei, Sea Urchin/Ben Schot, Justin Wijers, Daniele Pario Perra, Anne Schiffer and Mostafa Heravi seek the border between art and activism. The artists put the opinions of the public to the test with confrontational works in which established social standards and values are undermined, refuted, denied and reversed.
TENT. presents the exhibition Redefine The Enemy, on the political potential of art in a changing society, from 20 March through 4 May 2008. The artists Jonas Staal, Vincent W.J. Van Gerven Oei, Sea Urchin/Ben Schot, Justin Wijers, Daniele Pario Perra, Anne Schiffer and Mostafa Heravi seek the border between art and activism in confrontational works. Can art express an opinion on current political issues, religious tolerance or the power of capitalism?
Is there still a role for social criticism in contemporary art?
While artists were, until recently, still assuming the position of independent observer, they now realize that they, as well as the public, are part of a larger political-economic system that steers and influences us. The artists in the exhibition Redefine The Enemy put the opinions of the public to the test with confrontational works in which established social standards and values are undermined, refuted, denied and reversed.
Sea Urchin Editions (Ben Schot)
The presentation Kingdom Come by Sea Urchin/Ben Schot focuses on the utopia, the other world as an alternative to the ever-expanding consumer society. The independent publisher Sea Urchin invited a number of artist, thinker, and independent publisher friends to react to the concept of ‘utopia’. Kingdom Come features publications and archive records from the time of the Provos (Roel van Duijn), a presentation on hippy communes, film projections and new works. The title of the presentation refers to the afterlife, as in ‘thy Kingdom Come’ from the Lord’s Prayer, but also ‘to blow to Kingdom Come’ (obliterate)
Jonas Staal en Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
The total-installation Forty Years of Boredom 1968-2008 by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei and Jonas Staal can be interpreted as a three-dimensional manifesto. The heart of the presentation is the film pamphlet Follow Us or Die, based on images from the Internet in which the perpetrators of well-known incidents of violence, such as the ‘high school shootings’ at Columbine and Virginia Tech, are speaking. In recent years Staal has become well known in the Netherlands as an activist artist who delivers uncompromising social criticism in his work. Through mediagenic public actions, he exposes political rhetoric (the Geert Wilders Works, 2005-2007) and tests the limits of the constitutional state.
Daniele Pario Perra
From Daniele Pario Perra, the work Twenty Questions to Baron Montesquieu (2006) is being presented. In this video, the 18th century statesman Montesquieu is contacted through a medium. Montesquieu published ‘De l’esprit des lois’, in which he introduced the trias politica (separation of the legislative, implementing, and judicial powers). His ideas are the basis of the current Western democracy. Pario Perra often links his art projects to politics, sociology and urban development. Because Perra believes that there are no present-day visionary politicians, he prefers to turn to political leaders of the past.
The filmmaker/artist Mostafa Heravi fled from Iran several years ago and studied film at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. His latest film The Supper is based on the famous fresco The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci. In The Supper the twelve male apostles have become twelve women. They sit dressed in chador at a table around a male Jesus figure. In lingering images, Heravi presents us two versions of an unspoken story in which the mutual relationships are highly charged. Heravi won the public award at the Tent Academy Awards in 2007 with his surreal film Dageraad.
Artist Justin Wijers draws the victims of violent crime and road traffic accidents that he finds on the Internet. Beauty and brutality compete for precedence in the images. With great devotion and attention, Wijers portrays the anonymous victims, whose images function as horror-objects on morbid Internet sites. With thin colour felt-tip pens, he renders the battered bodies in tenuous, precise lines. Because they are almost unrecognisably mutilated, the first thing you see is the colourful patterns of the felt-tip pen, whereby the bodies become reminiscent of a contour map or a field with flowering plants.
In her work, Anne Schiffer addresses the grey area between accepted and unacceptable behaviour, between good guys and bad guys, without passing judgement over either. She copies the highly desirable status objects and imitates the behaviour of her role models. In her installation Ordnung ist das halbe Leben, she highlights the equivalent symbols (of power) of the upholders of order and the disturbers of the peace. Barriers, weapons, money – everything has been enthusiastically copied and is now on display in TENT. In bursts, a Mosquito can be heard, a new instrument for maintaining order, which produces a high pitch tone intended to deter loitering youths. In TENT. the device has been adjusted to be audible for adults.
Opening: Redefine The Enemy opens in TENT. on Thursday 20 March at 20.00 hrs, followed by an Afterparty in Club Zonder Concessies (Kruiskade 26) with DJs Mietzeb, Odessa and Manonster from 23.00 hrs (free entry).
Witte de Withstraat 50
3012 BR Rotterdam Netherlands
Open: Tuesday – Sunday from 11.00 – 18.00 hrs.
TENT. is open on Sunday 23, Monday 24 March (Easter) and on 1 May (Ascension). TENT. is closed on Koninginnedag (the Queen’s Birthday).
TENT. is a part of CBK Rotterdam