Remy Jungerman (b1959, Suriname) and Iris Kensmil (b1970, the Netherlands), both artists of Surinamese heritage, are representing the Netherlands in the 2019 edition of the Venice Biennale. The exhibition, The Measurement of Presence, is curated by Benno Tempel, director of the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague. In solo presentations, the two artists explore current issues of race, identity, culture, history and art history within the context of Dutch and European modernism. They also pay homage to stanley brouwn (the lower case spelling intentional), also a Surinamese artist who was arguably the only non-white artist of renown in the country and paradoxically (and ironically) celebrated for his stance of invisibility.
Iris Kensmil, The New Utopia Begins Here #1, 2019. Acrylic paint on wall, oil on canvas, 500 x 1596 cm. Installation view, Dutch Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Altripiani Photography.
Kensmil’s installation of eight forceful portraits of black women and utopian feminists from Europe (mostly the UK), the US, and the Caribbean are hung against a modernist wall painting that refers to Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian and others. She emblematically introduces female intellectuals and creators of colour into the foreground, inserting them into the primarily white male narratives of modernism.
Iris Kensmil, The New Utopia Begins Here #2, 2019. Ink and acrylic paint on wall, 580 x 390 cm. Installation view, Dutch Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Altripiani Photography.
With a nod to the pavilion itself, built by Gerrit Rietveld in 1953, the installations – The New Utopia Begins Here #1 and #2 and Beyond the Burden of Representation – Kensmil offers their countervailing presence as antidote, resurrecting voices too often overlooked or misrepresented.
Remy Jungerman. Visiting Deities, 2018-19. Cotton textile, kaolin, dry river clay, water samples, painted wood, 58 table legs (meranti), yarn, mirror and nails, 384 x 138 x 102 in (975 x 350 x 260 cm). Photo: Aatjan Renders.
Jungerman also discusses, overtly and subtly, the complexity and inextricability of these issues. In his two elegant and monumental installations, Promise IV, vertically oriented, and Visiting Deities, horizontally directed, he muses on the routes taken by patterns and motifs, travels that reflect his personal history, the history of his ancestors and that of the Netherlands and its once far-flung dominions (Suriname was still a Dutch colony when Jungerman was born there), of global history and the countless ensuing connections and repercussions.
Remy Jungerman. Promise IV, 2018-19. Painted wood, cotton textile, kaolin, yarn and nails, 52.7 x 53.5 x 193 in (134 x 136 x 490 cm). Photo: Aatjan Renders.
Iris Kensmil and Remy Jungerman
The Measurement of Presence
Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Giardini, Venice
11 May – 24 November 2019
Interview by LILLY WEI
Filmed by MARTIN KENNEDY
Stay of life in Venice
Survival is perhaps the message of the 2013 Venice Biennale, but confusion of aims, contradiction of purpose and confounded icons prevail in the spread of national Pavilions throughout the city centre, across the canals.
Outside In: 55th Venice Biennale
In the alleyways of Venice, street vendors are touting a new product – a globule of goo, which when thrown at the pavement splatters into a seemingly irreconcilable fried egg shape, but over the course of five seconds, reforms itself into a perfect sphere. It’s something of a metaphor for the force of descent on the city of a mass of art every two years.
Richard Long: Walking and Marking
The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Edinburgh, in time for the Edinburgh Festival 2007, is currently staging an outstanding recent retrospective exhibition on Richard Long. There is a curious irony here: never has Long's work been so superbly exhibited anywhere, as in the NGMA's present building - this neo-classical Schinkelesque mid-l9th Century former school building.
Daniel Buren and his Invention Trajectory
Daniel Buren has had a stimulating and now distinguished continuity in Britain. The arrival of his exhibition, 'Invention II', at Modern Art Oxford recalls a long association, firstly with MOMA Oxford (1973) and in the pages of Studio International. His own texts here are notable for their clarity and perspicacity.
A Runaway Girl at Home in New York: Louise Bourgeois at the Guggenheim
Louise Bourgeois, a travelling retrospective marking the artist's nearly 100 years of living and more than seven decades of art-making, is an ambitious project. Opening in October 2007 at Tate Modern in London, the exhibit appeared at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and now is installed in expanded form at the Guggenheim in New York. The museum's singular Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda, with its spiralling ramps, emphasises Bourgeois's prevailing modes of operation: recalling, recreating, reworking, revisiting and re-examining.