Published  08/07/2003

To the low countries

In the Dutch pavilion, 'We are the world' is the title of a 'confrontational juxtaposition of installations by five artists of different cultural origins, but all living and working in the Netherlands'. Thus, Mexican Carlos Amorales shows a small shoe workshop where low cost items are made for the American market. Over a 100 ceramic pairs of shoes are somehow slotted in to this subtle parody of third world dependency. Alicia Framis of Spain follows the theme of violence in her work against (dark-skinned) women, and the show is composed of 23 dresses produced appropriately to the context she chooses, in Twaron, a bullet-resistant fabric. Meschac Gaba from Benin, has created a 'Ginger Bar' shaped like a small African boat, and serves ginger drinks (minus vodka). Jeanne van Heeswijk (from the Netherlands) develops her own game of enthralling though time-consuming complexity but nobody much seemed to be playing. Perhaps she should try London too? Erik van Lieshout, also from the Netherlands, offers a video entitled 'Respect' about unworkable multi-cultural realities in the south of Rotterdam. All in all, this multinational grouping makes one postpone that trip to Belgium, but to question, too, such composite multi-cultural obligatory stances. From the Ginger Bar back to the Absolut off-licence was but a simple stroll, with only half a dozen bridges to cross – quite manageable too. The gondolas seem to lurk like crocodiles, oops…

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