AMSTERDAM.- Galerie Gabriel Rolt
announced the first solo show in the gallery by Israeli/American artist Abner Preis. Well-known for his surprising and socially engaged performances, Preis will present two major video works, accompanied by a selection of props used in both films. The artists ability to portray universal issues of our post-modern contemporary society in a simple and direct way makes these works surprisingly significant.
The Accidental Champion, a 38 minute silent film inspired by Charlie Chaplin, is the central piece of the exhibition and will premiere during the opening in the gallery. The story of this video is built around a 1920s boxing match and the journey of a young man from the wrong side of the tracks who accidentally ends up the champion of the game. Forty volunteers act − on a minimalistic, stagelike set − together with Preis, creating a contemporary collaborative gesamtkunstwerk in which the process of building a story is considered most significant. Like Chaplin, the artist questions social dogmas and subtly uncovers modern societys struggle with the rapidity of change and urge for absolute happiness. By shooting and moving in slow-motion, he manages to poetically capture this struggle with the speed of time.
The Clown, the second video performance piece, dates from 2011 and was created for the exhibition To All Tomorrow Parties at TENT Rotterdam. Preis appropriated the narrative of Charles Mingus homonymous music album and song, but changed its sad storyline into a happy ending − a recurrent element in the artists body of work. As with The Accidental Champion, he uses the strategy of simplifying universal problems into an almost childlike form of communication. Various video props, including the costume worn by Preis and the cardboard piano, will be shown in the gallery.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the artist will organize a series of performances and events at the gallery − including collaborations with visual artists, musicians and writers . On January 10, during A happy ending: A conversation with the artist as a bar man, Preis invites you to discuss the idea of happy ending through your own artistic practices in a bar setting. More details will follow shortly and can be found on our website. After the show, The Accidental Champion will be touring the Netherlands in cinemas and other art venues starting with the Filmhuis in the Hague.
Abner Preis was born in Hadera (Israel, 1975) and raised in Philadelphia, where he earned a BFA at Tyler School of Fine Arts and is presently working on an MFA at the Dutch Art Institute Arnhem, NL. The artist is known for his interactive public performances and mixed-media work, with the concept of traditional story-telling as the central aspect. Appropriation, the element of surprise, participation, playfulness and political and social engagement are elements that appear throughout Preis work, whether performance, drawing, video, installation or photography.
Preis has exhibited his work and performed in important institutions such as Showroom Mama, Art Amsterdam, Museum Jan Cunen, De Kunsthal, Dordrechts Museum, IFFR (International Film Festival Rotterdam) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Preis has been the recipient of several artist residencies in Amsterdam, Rome, Vienna and Berlin, and was nominated for the Illy Prize at Art Rotterdam in 2010. He regularly performs in international art and public spaces, independently or in collaboration with his collective, The Dogs of Shame. Preis lives and works in Rotterdam.