1 till 21 August 2011


Review by Rosa Juno Streekstra

translation: Pieter de Bruyn Kops

A memory of 10 years SYB

There is a virtual line between Beetsterzwaag and Amsterdam. In East-Amsterdam it turns into an old train track that then abruptly comes to an end. The connection is made, the destination seemingly reached. There, a small, deserted stationhouse stands, where Kunsthuis SYB’s ´forward-looking retrospective´ begins, to celebrate her 10 year existence.

If you look inside through the window you see that Lieke Snellen has, with her work, brutally confiscated the space, as she did earlier in the house of SYB. Two Luxaflex blinds rap around high pedestals while two mirrors on the ground allow for reflection. Are the tarp and the lamps work or context? The work with the title ´Re-purpose´ has consistently taken on new forms in different exhibition spaces. In this way it translates well as a transportable, ´site-specific´ work for the exhibit 10 years SYB in which a number of residents were asked to ´remake´, or for a ´re-enactment´ of the work that they have realized earlier, during their residency. Time, the then and now, also plays a role on this line.

Meanwhile, around the corner in P/////AKT, the opening night has already begun. The performance from Nina Wijnmaalen in an exuberant decor of crookedly nailed slats, and sheep wool is pronouncedly direct. Hiding nothing, the funny yet painful situations that she presents – as an example: lifting her bare breasts with strings – make you extremely conscious of the unavoidability and uneasiness of the present moment. The creation of Basje Boer is totally different. She tells the story of, ´The man in the house´, by Ruth van Beek, using a Leporello with images, forming a continuation to the earlier, ´The house with the eagle´. In very graphic language Boer reads about a man, how he looks and how the time passes around him. Some fragments return repeatedly, the story slowly expands. Boer pulls you away, sending you into your own imagination.

These works play nicely with my understanding of space, and simultaneously characterize the diversity of the projects in Kunsthuis SYB, and by doing so, the works in P/////AKT. Within this constellation of greatly differing works in the exhibition, two small sculptures of Maartje Korstanje grab my attention. These insect- /branch-like substances of paper mache are surprising. In relationship to her bigger work these are quickly experienced as intimate and very fleshy. In one of the two sculptures yellow colored, vein-covered bobbles bulge out between tightly drawn ropes. They are wonderfully meaty. This informality is characteristic of the entire exhibition, and most certainly in the manner of presentation. The green wild boar (a work by Katharina Galland) at the door could jump off of its pedestal of folding chairs at any moment. In a small and separate space the engaging super-8 films of Hee-Seung Choi are found – registration of playful, space-making actions like drawing a line around a hand, or connecting lines to make triangles – by the spiral staircase and there above, in the small upper space, totally in their place.

10 years SYP is a group exhibit without a clear theme. The only real overlap is the one that the artists share through their residency in SYB. Such a working period is usually a stimulus to test new ideas. The search, not the end point, is the main goal. It is, for the artist, and for the SYB as host, naturally interesting to look at the meaning that this experience, the context, actually has had for their individual artistic evolutions. The results of these reflections have proven to be enormously different. Some artists have presented a work, as others further worked out, or even re-worked theirs. Sometimes the new version seemed to exist already, only the sketches had to be worked out. One artwork was a remake of itself, exhibited in another space.

The concept of the exhibition remains vague, that is because most of the works are not understood by the casual viewer as remakes of an earlier work. The artist knows the translation; the viewer, especially he or she not familiar with the Kunsthuis SYB, is left uninformed. I missed the engagement of the artistic process that is so typically SYB. But is that bad? If we see 10 years SYB as a result of all having had a residency there then we must conclude that this is a nice collection of new works and that the location gives the older works a fresh backdrop. 10 years SYP didn’t give answers, but it raised many interesting questions. In my opinion, its ungraspable openness was the best strategy to whip up a curiosity towards the many, and sometimes earlier, physical and mental spaces of the works.

Now 10 years SYB is over. Festively closed but not finished. Literally, in that the anniversary edition is not done. During the finissage a draft was given, the first chapter that certainly begged for more. When I walk outside as the night winds down and I turn one more time I see the neon-light work that adorns the window of P/////AKT. It flickers: m us eum/mausoleum. It is an engaging vision by Sybren Renema and Timmy van Zoelen on the passivity of artwork in the museum. P/////AKT has been, on the contrary, powered by SYB’s unrelenting energy, by the hope-giving dynamic of the artwork that can continue to grow.

And that is also the message of Deirdre Donohue’s addition to the video ‘A Certain Capacity for Occupying Space’ that she made during her SYB residency, and exhibited as ‘residue’ in P/////AKT. In this strong video, five women concentrate on the same artwork that they all saw in London three years earlier. With one simple move Donohue draws the line through Beetsterzwaag and Amsterdam towards another place in the future. She invites the visitors to sign a contract, evidence that they have seen this work in this context. She asks them to fill out an address card. Perhaps one day you can be approached by someone who asks your memory of the work. It doesn’t end here, you are the progress.