05 September 2005

Venice Biennale - dutch pavilion reviewed

Venice Biennale - Jeroen de Rijke / Willem de Rooij: Mandarin Ducks

Place: Italy (Venice)
When: 12 Jun 2005 - 06 Nov 2005 (One off; not Mon)
Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm

Dutch artists Jeroen de Rijke and Willem de Rooij represent the Netherlands at the 51st edition of the Venice Biennale. For the occasion the duo has created Mandarin Duck, a film installation that makes use of theatrical artificiality.

Drawing from certain aspects of their early artistic practice, such as the distorted use of narrative, the artists create steady shots presented in a tableau-like style, which gradually feeds the visual information to the viewer.

The plot revolves around ten people meeting in a spacious apartment on a Sunday afternoon and their dialogues cover themes of chaos, abstraction, love, consumption, corruption, charity, ideals and emotional and psychological schism. The work loosely intercuts stylistic references to theatre, sitcom and film and plays for a duration of 36 minutes, shown at regular intervals.



Free Beer Tomorrow

Resources are scare in the nethelands and it is not uncommon for access to services to be restricted to limited hours. ie. between ten and noon every alternative tuesday. The trick is being able to determine which is the off week, and that varies according to what nationality you are and whether you can speak dutch. Language is used here as a commercial weapon and to give priority to the locals. This is the agenda behind the phrase "double dutch".

So to see the netherlands pavilion displaying a clock saying 'come back later' was highly amusing. Was this yet another device to restrict access to dutch resources? Do you have to present a netherlands passport to get in?

Appartheid is activiely practiced in the netherlands, you just have to look at Bijlmer.

Elementary school ‘De Polsstok’

This 1991 photograph of pupils at the elementary school ‘De Polsstok’ in the area called Amsterdam Zuidoost (Southeast), home to many immigrants, shows children of Surinamese, Antillean, Turkish, Moroccan and Asian descent.

Black schools

The arrival of large groups of immigrants gave rise in Amsterdam to the distinction between so-called ‘white schools’ with a preponderance of white children and ‘black schools’ with mostly immigrant children. The rise of these schools was linked to the distribution of Amsterdam’s population. Many parents feared that their children would fall behind if they attended a black school.
nice looking kids, wonder where they all ended up?

Note that this is a government funded website I'm quoting. Can you imagine this happening in NSW?

It can also be against the law to have any rule or policy that disadvantages more people of your race, ethnic or ethno-religious background, than other people — unless that rule or policy is reasonable.

It is against the law to do this in any of the circumstances listed above.

For example, it is against the law for an employer to make you wear a uniform that does not meet your ethno-religious dress needs — unless doing so is reasonable for the particular job. It is against the law to stop you speaking in your own language at work or when you are studying at college, university and so on — unless speaking in your language stops the work or study being done properly. It is against the law for an employer to insist that you speak English fluently and/or without an accent — unless this type of English/accent is reasonable for the particular job.
Or is it dutch economising? Does the video actually exist, were they really screening it? Who knows? - I certainly didn't see anyone enter the pavilion all afternoon.

I didn't see the film. So reviewing it from its description, I suspect that what we would have, would be a group of people discussing the given topics, as filtered through a dutch perspective. It would then be interesting to compare and contrast the video's text with the commentary on the most popular dutch blog. (see dutch bloggies)

Reading on, I note
"The work loosely intercuts stylistic references to theatre, sitcom and film"
So I suspect it may be a compilation of appropriated text and imagery. I wonder if it reflects my observations on dutch racism and sexism.

I picked up a book on the artists in the biennale showbag pavilion and flicked through it. It referred to a work on carpets. Not netherlands carpets, or original works by the artists, but an appropriation or critique of what appeared to be Islamic art. Intriguing.

How does this relate back to the writings and activities of Theo van Gogh regarding Islam? Was this question addresed by the curator?

This work was part of the Biennale of Sydney 2004. They must have a good publicist.

In a specially designed space at the Museum of Contemporary Art de Rijke/de Rooij show their most recent 35mm-film The point of departure (2002). In this film the artists visually investigate the structure and the patterns of an oriental rug. Scenes slowly unfold to become recognised. It is the passing of time that provides the narrative in de Rijke/de Rooij's work. In a single slow moving shot painterly, photographic and cinematographic elements are consciously combined and played off against one another. De Rijke/de Rooij consider the emptiness of the space of display as vital to the work as the film itself. The film will be shown at set times in regular intervals approximately twice every hour.

Art Gallery of New South Wales

For the Art Gallery of New South Wales de Rijke/de Rooij will design a flower arrangement using a selection of Australian native flowers. This work asks audiences to consider the role of the museum as a container of objects and materials that have been transformed by the human hand. This bouquet also speaks about the immense influence of the still life (nature morte) as an object of contemplation and delight but now not in a canvas.
So they slow photographed someone else's work. Very deep.

I'm not going to comment on flower arrangements.

I have observed that here, as in the USA, appropriation from other cultures for commercial gain is accepted as a normal commercial practice that is not legislated against. So I am interested to explore how the commercial practices that I observing in dutch culture are reflected in dutch commercial art practice. This appears to be a good starting point.

writing from amsterdam

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