Willem De Rooij

By de Rooij, Willem | Artforum International, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Willem De Rooij


de Rooij, Willem, Artforum International


1 SVEN AUGUSTIJNEN, SPECTRES (KUNSTHALLE BERN) Spectres is a 103-minute documentary examining the decolonization of the Belgian Congo and the assassination of its first democratically elected prime minister, Patrice Lumumba. Augustijnen ruthlessly deconstructs the role of the Belgian government in both events, as well as its subsequent attempts to erase past embarrassments. Seemingly casual camerawork and editing make for an impactful aesthetic experience: Much of this powerful work's significance lies in its formal execution. But Augustijnen's stance on colonial history is just as remarkable: Devoid of sentiment or politically correct conventions, it is light and at times humorous, but never cynical.

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2 ANGELA BULLOCH (WITTE DE WITH CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ART, ROTTERDAM) For "Short Big Drama," Nicolaus Schafhausen's last exhibition as director of Witte de With (curated in collaboration with Amira Gad), Angela Bulloch presented older and newer works in an installation divided across two floors: a dimly lit parcours featuring her trademark "Pixel Boxes" on one, and striking, brightly lit large-scale text compositions (called "Rules-Series") printed directly onto the walls on the other. The exhibition epitomized Bulloch's impressive and multifaceted oeuvre, as well as Schafhausen's inimitable directorship: intelligence, humor, and sharp political awareness paired with an emotional, sensuous, and sensitive intuition.

3 JUDITH HOPF (DOCUMENTA 13, BREITENAU MEMORIAL, GUXHAGEN, GERMANY) Documenta 13 displayed an at times puzzling curatorial concern with injustice, destruction, and loss in the broadest sense of the word. Only a few artists managed to make pointed statements within this alarming compilation of seemingly unrelated traumata. Judith Hopf's Bamboo Forest, 2012, was located in the Breitenau Memorial, a mental institution in a former prison for girls in a former concentration camp. Hopf skillfully bypassed the impossibly high moral expectations raised in this context by installing stacks of water glasses decorated with melancholy green paper leaves. These elegant, efficient--and above all autonomous--sculptures looked like spines or bamboo stems, evoking resilience as well as fragility.

4 LOUISE LAWLER/ERIC BELL AND KRISTOFFER FRICK (STEDELUK MUSEUM, AMSTERDAM) After eight years of renovation, the Stedelijk reopened last September with a bang. Ann Goldstein's masterful installation of the world-renowned collection was precise and rich with historical cross-references. By commissioning Louise Lawler's monumental photographic work Produced in 1988, Purchased in 1989, Produced in 1989, Purchased in 1993, 1995, she connected the museum's turbulent history to its present, and Lawler's work to anchor points in the collection. In the temporary exhibition "Beyond Imagination," a bustling overview of contemporary art made in the Netherlands curated by Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen and Kathrin Jentjens, Hunting in Heaven by Eric Bell and Kristoffer Frick stood out. This hallucinatory film departs from F. T. Marinetti's Futurist Cookbook (1932), investigating the concept of the future by interpreting the past.

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5 JCJ VANDERHEYDEN (MUSEUM BOIJ-MANS VAN BEUNINGEN, ROTTERDAM) JCJ Vanderheyden inspired generations of Dutch artists. Beginning in the mid-1960s, he produced a concise and multifaceted oeuvre dedicated to the mechanisms of seeing, showing, and viewing. "In-sight" was a complex installation in two parts: One room showcased a selection of interrelating works from all stages of his five-decade career; a second became an enlarged version of the architectural model made in preparation for this show. This installation was the last project in the long relationship between the artist and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen; one month after the show closed, Vanderheyden passed away. …

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