Life Potential

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.

Ersin Eken 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.

Koes Staassen 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 Klaassen-Andrianova 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.

Marijn Brussaard 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 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 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.”

Leon Stoffelen 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

My dearest memories without being alone

Observing, registering, collecting: one can think of various motivations for taking a photograph. The exhibition Souvenir brings together the work of various artists who use the camera in an attempt to preserve particular aspects of everyday reality. To try and capture what would otherwise disappear: an encounter, a time frame, a scent, a fleeting moment. For personal reasons, from a sense of nostalgia for example, sometimes almost compulsively, or simply because it brings pleasure. Although the results are very different from each other, the artists in Souvenir share the human tendency to preserve true experiences or cherished fabrications. Artist, lecturer and alumna HKU Photography Maite Vanhellemont (1990) put together an exhibition for AG from her own practice and interest. The participating artists range from experienced makers to recently graduated talents. Five of them are (guest) teachers and/or alumni of various study programs at the HKU. Especially for the exhibition, Bas Blaasse wrote an essay.
A group exhibition curated by Maite Vanhellemont. With works by Danielle van Ark, Bas Blaasse, Maurice van Es, Ton Grote, Tonya Heeringa, Luka Karssenberg, Thomas Kuijpers, Sjoerd Martens, Petra Stavast, Maite Vanhellemont en / and Godfridus de Vries. Photos made by Maite Vanhellemont
The exhibition Souvenir is on show at Academiegalerie, Utrecht, NL 9/9 - 8/10

Photographic archaeological research

Every day we are confronted with more artificiality in our living environment. This habitat is consciously and unconsciously formed by spatial planning and by the traces of passers-by and tourists. We usurp a territory. This habitat is seen by Sjoerd Martens as a mise en scene; a decor that reflects our human activities and a time picture. "In my work, I reshape this decor. Man is absent from this, but due to the immersive nature of the work, I create an experience, a new habitat in which man as a spectator is included. The past presence, the contemporary desolation and the future uncertainty of man are central. The series Photographic Archaeological Research (2017) is commissioned for the Marina Abramović Institute, made after an intense research period on location in Paris. During the investigation, the photographic registrations can be a final stage but also the starting point of the second process; the investigation of the value and analysis of the registrations. View the archive of Photographic archaeological research (2017) at Marina Abramovic Institute

Scenery of Japan (2018)

In the series Scenery of Japan (2018) the scenic is brought to the table by developing digital manipulation and collage techniques. Images captured during an expedition through Central and Southern Japan, are combined in different perspectives on the same setting and through a realistic collage of photographic material. Through this technique is tried to capture not only human traces but also the poetry, energy of the environment and human presence in the image. The series is presented in the form of prints, in which a combination is used of prints on photo paper and glossy prints of collage on plexiglass and aluminum.

Exclusive healing energy in Zhejiang

Exclusive healing energy in Zhejiang (2019) Sjoerd Martens sassy lassy
In clothing line Exclusive healing energy (2019), Chinese clothing designer Sassy Lassy (a.k.a. 潔廁林) processed digital collage patterns made by Sjoerd Martens. The prints on the futuristic swimwear line are made up of images of mainly street waste, ice cubes, cubist shapes abstracted from glass dessert dishes; a non-biodegradable artifact.

Playgrounds (2019)

This series has emerged from the Scenery of Japan (2018) series. After combining elements into a new landscape in the collages, now a whole new narrative element has been added. Playgrounds (2019) is made in the three Japanese cities of Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo have been digitally manipulated with fire seas. The playground is pre-eminently a location that is perceived as unheimlich without human presence. Leaving the playground could be seen as the end of youth, which is captured in this image through the destruction of the playground. However, the fire can also be seen as an age-old place for a human encounter.

Wild Chamber

In commission of Nous’klaer Audio for upsammy’s LP Wild Chamber LP Artwork LP “In many ways Spring seems to be the perfect seasonal match for upsammy: no matter the tempo nor intensity, her style is colourful, restorative and carries a tangible promise of new beginnings. So Wild Chamber arrives at the right time, but it … Read moreWild Chamber

Radioactive Bodies

Project series in progress - Radioactive Bodies (2020) / portraying the architecture of radioactivity.

The visual study of Radioactive Bodies is published in a small series of artist publications De Reeks. It's available for purchase, more information at the website of De Reeks.

Radioactive Bodies is a visual study of the high levels of radiation in Sweden caused by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. Several self-documented territories meet each other in which radiation level data confesses surprising discoveries. From the heart of the Ukrainian nuclear exclusion zone, the surrounding abandoned habitat to public recreation parks around the capital Stockholm in Sweden. Some cases in Sweden don’t show any difference in radiation levels or even have higher levels than the Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine.

This project is made possible with the financial support of Mondriaan Fund.

My neighbor has petroglyphs in her backyard

I am pleased to announce, the National Archaeological Museum Aruba will open the exhibition My Neighbor has Petroglyphs in her Backyard at March 16th. The exhibition features fourteen different finely crafted photo works and a video installation. On show till December 2022.

In last decades Aruba developed explosively because of tourism and prior to that because of oil companies. On the grounds of these becoming increasingly rare pristine landscapes, including the unique rock drawings of Aruba, being infiltrated by building structures. These drawings are part of the islands' cultural heritage and an indispensable link between the Aruban identity and the indigenous past. However, they have no legally protected status. Today the drawings function as a tourist attraction, are located on private land (thus private property), and in the most distressing cases are vandalized or completely destroyed. The need for a legally protected status is high to prevent an increase in these cases.

In this project, the boundaries between pristine nature, cultivated nature, cultural heritage, and (natural) property are blurred through the process of various collage techniques. This so-called painting with pixels studies the hidden meanings of the visions of the future depicted in the drawings, precisely by dissecting and reconstructing the inextricable relationship with the living environment around the site. The location, many centuries ago, served as a presumed sacred place that gave birth to the drawings, now shares the same location of contradictory contemporary practices. At this moment, the past human presence, present abandonedness, and future uncertainty meet for the first time. Not sure how long this precious landscape will continue to live in its current form, whether the drawings can influence it, or whether they will move with the times of change.

The constantly changing landscapes may be halted temporarily through this project. The new perspectives offer a possible handle to restore the protective religious function of the rock drawings.

This project underlines both protected and unprotected cases, figurative and non-figurative drawings. In consideration of the rock drawings' protection and privacy of the property owners, no locations will be mentioned.

The research part of this project was made possible by the financial contribution of the Mondriaan Fund. Special thanks to MANA, Casnan Aruba, the kind property owners, family and friends, and my loving partner who was born and raised on the island.

This project includes seven triptychs, 85 photographs, and a video-installation.