The group exhibition Life Potential offers a stage to seven artists who depict alternative or utopian places in their work. Borrowing from an endless stream of images full of visual clichés and ingrained social patterns, they create a space that is malleable and fluid. The artists choose a feminine or queer perspective in their search for alternative ways of looking at themes such as archaeology, nature, sex and identity. Queer literally means ‘strange’ and represents an open, unconventional approach, based on the belief that everything and everyone is in a state of transformation.
There is a shared interest in visual clichés; such as posed nudes, floral wallpapers and landscapes that resemble desktop backgrounds: utopian elements and consumer articles that sell an illusion of romance. All these elements are then brought together in unexpected ways, shaken up and personalized. The contrast between ‘real’ and ‘fake’ is blurred, together with all other exclusive definitions and let loose in a playful way. Drawings, paintings, videos, installations and performances come together as the mise-en-scene of a layered landscape, full of subtle transgressions of social boundaries and expectations.
Within the sculptural installations of Ersin Eken you find plastic flowers, dead butterflies, pokemons and 90s fashion models: consumer articles that sell an illusion of romanticism. Often his works seem fragile, as if it is frozen in a state of decay. Organic shapes of textile or epoxy are combined with frames of metal. With these distinctions Ersin Eken creates an experimental environment, where binary oppositions between femininity and masculinity, nature and culture, virtuality and reality are superfluous.
In his practice Staassen has been giving shape to the way desire can attach itself to subjects/objects through the act of gazing, positioning, composing and drawing images. Intimate sessions with friends are at the starting point of a drawing, more play than performance it creates a space for the model and him to experience a newly defined eroticism; charged sensually but never with the aim of satisfying a sexual climax we discover a liberating freedom.The body becomes a vessel that holds desire, at the center of the swirling of eyes traveling over a scene.
Maria was born and raised in Russia, where she developed an intimate relation with the quietness and poetry of vast expanses of nature. In her performances and installations she cultivates a quiet world where only the here and now is important. Klaassen-Andrianova invites the viewer to slow down and contemplate the inevitable flow of time by using temporary materials, or, on the contrary, by capturing a moment “frozen in time”. She often adds subtle details revealing the making process as well as hints towards future changes of decay, underlining the transitional state of a work.
Multidisciplinary artist Marijn Brussaard (Amsterdam, 1993) works with performance, (video-)installation, music and sound-design. He graduated in 2014 with a BA in performance at the Amsterdam School of the Arts (Mime department). With little regard for convention, Brussaard’s work can be described as form-experiments that are often poetic, humorous or even absurd by nature and that are filled with references out of popular and visual culture. The contrasts between what is real and synthetic or hyperreal are a recurrent theme in his work.
Mirjam Vreeswijk is a painter of seductive arrangements. Her fluid brushstrokes disguise that these settings consist of disparate elements that are put together in rough collages of cutouts from glossy magazines and her own photography. These have an intuitive and automatic quality, giving the resulting paintings a haunting surreal feel that occasionally touches elements of product-photography, still-life and landscape painting.
Sjoerd Martens (b. 1993, Nijmegen, The Netherlands) lives and works in Amsterdam. The hidden beauty and purity of the human traces are what Sjoerd Martens wants to immortalize so that they can be experienced differently and infinitely. Consequently, the subjects are no longer taken for granted. It is thus reminiscent of archeology, but with a different purpose and an unconventional meaning. “I see my work as a sculpture of our legacy. The areas I create are characterized by past human presence, current abandoned-ness and future uncertainty. The human traces as still life are brought to a new breathing environment through multidisciplinarity and atypical narrative techniques.”
In his paintings, Stoffelen plays with the simulation of homo-erotic and cliché imagery in the context of a heteronormative environment. The figurative scenes vary from portraits to landscapes and are derived from commercial and pornografic visuals, though their hypersexial or commercial aims are then obscured and turned into strange and tender scenes of self reflection.
Life Potential is supported by the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts