This spring De Hallen Haarlem
presents three exhibitions with recently acquired works. Three video works by the Swedish artist Klara Lidén (b. 1979) and one video by Jakup Ferri (Kosovo, b. 1981) are being screened, and the installation Democracies by the Polish artist Artur mijewski (b. 1966) is being shown. The acquisition of these artworks means a substantial enrichment of the collection at De Hallen, in which work by engage artists and artists working in a documentary style
is richly represented. The purchase of Democracies was made possible in part by the Mondriaan Foundation.
Artur mijewski- Democracies
The political use of public space is central to the series of informally filmed videos in Democracies. For them Artur mijewski (b. Warsaw, 1966) filmed diverse public gatherings at different locations in Europe and the Middle East. With the images of the recent demonstrations in North Africa and the Middle East still fresh in our minds, what is most striking is that the language of the public political gathering is pretty much the same all over the world: drums are beaten just as loudly at a demonstration against the Israeli occupation as at a parade by Protestant Loyalists in Belfast. And although the mood can be forbidding, as it was at the funeral of Jörg Haider, or on the contrary euphoric, as it was among the crowds celebrating the European Football Championship, one always finds the same formal elements. Whenever people come together, they apparently always communicate in the same way.
Artur mijewski is chiefly known for his documentaries on controversial subjects, in which he intends to challenge his viewers. In these videos he generally focuses on the staging of social situations, as he did for Repetition (2005), in which he performed the famous Stanford Prison Experiment of 1971 again, or Them (2007), in which he brought Polish social movements with opposing ideologies together for a workshop, which then slowly but surely got out of hand. In addition to being a visual artist mijewski is also a curator: he has been asked to curate the Berlin Biennale in 2012.
While in Repetition and Them mijewski used volunteers he recruited to recreate the situations, that is not the case in Democracies. The twenty fragments were recorded in a reportorial manner and straightforwardly edited. mijewski filmed everything himself, and thus makes no use of found footage or directed images. For Democracies mijewski worked within the genre of documentary, with the aim of rendering reality with as little directorial interference as possible. The way in which mijewski brings his visual material together reveals his artistic gestures: by placing the fragments next to or in succession to one another, he creates a collapse of all protest voices into one common voice: that of democracy.
Jakup Ferri - An Artist Who Cannot Speak English Is No Artist
In 2010 De Hallen showed the solo presentation Paper Vegetables by the Kosovar artist Jakup Ferri (b. Pristina, 1981). The drawings and mosaics in this exhibition revealed how, in both miniatures and in large wall drawings, Ferri was able to conjure up a lightly surrealistic world with simple means, a world in which both bittersweet melancholy and optimism were present. Ferri's work in Paper Vegetables, often showing a comic strip-like directness, was to a great extent the product of his residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. From this exhibition De Hallen acquired a drawing, and in addition bought the 2003 video work An Artist Who Cannot Speak English Is No Artist. The latter is now presented in the Cabinet of De Hallen Haarlem from 26 March through 13 June, 2011.
In the video work An Artist Who Cannot Speak English Is No Artist Ferri engages in a monologue in front of the camera in English a language that he has not really mastered. The artist, then still only 22 years old, tells the viewer a story that appears to be about his life and his ideas about being an artist. But because of his faulty English, which prevents him from getting his story across well, the emphasis comes to lie on the essential role that language plays in the international art world. Ferri borrowed the title from a famous work by the Croatian artist Mladen Stilinovic, from 1993 who used this pointed aphorism to summarise the problems of a globalised art world. After the fall of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe at the beginning of the 1990s the borders opened up for artists too, and they were confronted with a freedom that was limited by the language of the West. In this video work Ferri carries Stilinovic's observation through in an ironic manner.
Klara Lidén: Three video works
Video plays a central role in the work of Klara Lidén (b. Stockholm, 1979). Generally she uses a camera in a fixed position to record an action she performs, as she actively responds to the space in which she finds herself. These actions are usually characterised by recalcitrance and futility, and not infrequently end up by testing the boundaries of public morality. The direct physical relation between an individual and his/her immediate surroundings, the distinction between public and private space, and the suffocating grip that social conventions have on the individual are recurring themes in Lidén's still evolving oeuvre.
The three works on exhibition in De Hallen Haarlem have been added to the museum's collection since 2006. With them the museum enhanced its collection of contemporary video art with an outspoken, critical artistic voice, which breathes new life into the
post-feminist and performance traditions in art. The ideas of the Situationists from the 1960s, for whom the dislocation of our society by means of disruptive interventions in public space played an important role, can also be traced in Lidén's work.
Two recent purchases, Der Mythos des Fortschritts (Moonwalk) (2008) and Kasta Macka (2009), illustrate the way in which Lidén works. Both videos take place in a metropolitan public space and convey a sense of irritation and boredom. Lidén's simple actions (such as here performing a nocturnal moonwalk on the street, or skipping stones over a river) are tragicomic acts of resistance against the routine of everyday life. The previously purchased work Bodies of Society likewise shows one single act: the systematic destruction of a bicycle with a steel rod.
The artist, originally trained as an architect, resists the impersonality of the metropolitan environment. She does that by tracing her own temporary presence in that space. The personalisation of the urban environment can already be seen in Klara Lidén's earliest works. For instance, in 2003 she built a hidden house of of refuse
materials on the bank of the Spree in Berlin, which could be used by anyone, and in 2002 Lidén started an alternative mail delivery service, for which she hung up an illegal mail box in Stockholm, and then started delivering the mail personally even if she had to travel halfway around the world to do so.