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Videoland: Exhibition celebrates ten years of Kunsthal KAdE
assume vivid astro focus immerses the viewer in a colourful, psychedelic world. Photo: Mike Bink.

AMERSFOORT.- This summer, Kunsthal KAdE celebrates its tenth anniversary. It is a time to pause and reflect, before continuing to pursue Kunsthal KAdE’s mission: to make exhibitions in the (usually contemporary) visual arts field. As the Netherlands’ supreme poet, Joost van den Vondel, famously wrote in 1632, in this troubled world ‘Eternity goes before the moment’. The philosophy summed up in the line touches on a major aspect of art: the setting of a specific motif within an idea of universal relevance. The motto demands a medium with an unparalleled ability to isolate an individual moment in the vast continuum of time: that medium is video art.

For this year’s summer exhibition, Videoland, Kunsthal KAdE has selected 11 films that in some way balance the experience of a specific moment with a sense of eternity. The exhibition is based partly on a selection from the EKARD collection.

Participating artists: assume vivid astro focus, Matt Calderwood, Isaac Julien, Ragnar Kjartansson, Christian Marclay, Hans Op de Beeck, Nira Pereg, Tom Pnini, Martin & Inge Riebeek, Marijke van Warmerdam en Guido van der Werve.

assume vivid astro focus [Eli Sudbrack (BR, 1968)] immerses the viewer in a colourful, psychedelic world. Endlessly captivated, you search for a foothold in the unceasing flow of patterns. avaf vacillates between abstractions of the real world and sheer fantasy.

In 2014, avaf designed antes vulgar agora fino (‘before vulgar, now chic’) for theKAdECafe. The work experiments with abstract texture and colour combinations. The walls and ceiling of the cafe are covered with multi-coloured dots and scribbles of paint, as if someone has been trying out giant marker pens on them.

Matt Calderwood (GB, 1975) is fascinated by light. Especially artificial light. When it comes on, we see. When it goes out, our world goes with it. In a series of films, Calderwood plays with this principle by gradually eliminating – or increasing – light. A light bulb disappears under black paint. A set of radiant neon tube lights are shot out one by one. Massed match heads go up in brilliant flame. And then go out.

Isaac Julien (GB, 1960)is concerned about the lot of migrants. In ‘The Leopard (Western Union: Small Boats)’ (2007), he constructs a poetic frame narrative about the quest – and fate – of migrants crossing the Mediterranean in small boats. Their traumatic experiences impact not only on themselves, but also the world around them, from people to buildings and even the landscape.

Ragnar Kjartansson (IS, 1976) Kjartansson’s film ‘The Man’ (2010) focuses on blues pianist Pinetop Perkins, then aged 97. The musician sits at his piano in a grassy field, against the background of an archetypal American clapboard farmhouse, and plays his way through his repertoire for a whole hour. Due to his great age, his playing may no longer always be faultless, but the music is clearly engraved on his heart. The depth of cultural history is tangible in this poignant performance.

Christian Marclay (CH, 1955) ‘Telephones’ (1995) was the first film in which Marclay experimented with editing together (very short) film clips to create a single new (narrative) sequence based on a chosen motif – in this case the role of telephones in feature films. They ring, are picked up, somebody speaks into them and they are hung up again. The whole video is constructed of instants from 130 different films; the ultimate fragmentation of a suggested linear narrative.

Hans Op de Beeck (BE, 1969) makes monochrome grey sculptures and uses them to create gallery-filling installations. The arrangements for these are often developed in preparatory watercolours. In ‘Night Time’ (2015), he uses stop motion to turn a sequence of his watercolours into a mysterious dream-like narrative. Op de Beeck’s worlds are at once specific and generic. They draw on the extensive catalogue of images that almost all of us have in our heads and use as a frame of reference, although each of us perceives them in a different way.

Nira Pereg (IL, 1969) In ‘67 Bows’ (2008), a flock of flamingos stands in a zoo enclosure. Suddenly a gun is fired. The birds all retract their necks in unison, as if on command. Then they bob up again. The same thing happens at the following shot. Until their necks already tense at the sound of the gun being cocked. And the head movement eventually becomes an part of the flamingos’ routine and they perform it while continuing otherwise undisturbed with what they were doing. The movement of their necks creates an impromptu choreography and is a preeminent Pavlov reaction.

Tom Pnini (IL, 1981) In ‘Ballade to the Double’ (2012), we see four screens showing an ‘endless’ stretch of railway track at four different seasons. Railways are an archetypal cinematic symbol of time and the passage of time. On each screen we witness exactly the same train journey with the same interruption – a little girl playing near and on the tracks – but each time it is filmed at a different time of the year. Simultaneous, parallel, but each existing in its own moment of time, so that there is an interaction between ‘moment’ and repetition.

Martin & Inge Riebeek (NL, 1957, NL, 1964) In Imagine Being There International (2009), people in New York, Shanghai, Nairobi and Cairo are asked to describe their paradise in a few sentences. The point is the encounter with otherness, ‘the richness of the image and the delight of the moment, which is fleeting and sadly always too short’. The work was purchased to mark the opening of Kunsthal KAdE and displayed in the reception area of the original building.

Marijke van Warmerdam (NL, 1959) placed an old-fashioned bathtub in an empty, red-lit room and filmed ‘Weather Forecast’ (2000). The weather ‘outside’ is foggy or wet, or the sun shines in. The bizarre interplay between the tranquil interior and the changing weather conditions ends with a dramatic finale. A film full of relative calm, but also suspense.

Guido van der Werve (NL, 1977) makes numbered films that can be viewed as constituting a single 'opus'. In 'Number Nine' (2007), he stands at the exact location of the North Pole and spends a whole day turning in the opposite direction to the rotation of the earth. Subtitle: 'The day I didn't turn with the world'. It was a simple but devastating experience. Van der Werve stood for 24 hours in the bitter cold on the geographical 'axis' of the planet, making his performance not only a defiance of the ‘laws of nature’, but a feat of physical endurance. The result is a 'time-lapse' video lasting 8 minutes and 40 seconds. Trained as a classical pianist, the artist himself composed the musical accompaniment.

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