November 14, 2016 - Van Abbemuseum - Positions #3
November 14, 2016

Van Abbemuseum

Rossella Biscotti and Natasja Kensmil. Photos: Marcel de Buck. Duncan Campbell. Photo: Drew Farrell. Maryam Jafri. Photo: Kristof Vrancken.

Positions #3
Rossella Biscotti, Duncan Campbell, Maryam Jafri and Natasja Kensmil
December 3, 2016–March 5, 2017

Opening: December 3, 3–6pm

Van Abbemuseum
Bilderdijklaan 10
The Netherlands
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–5pm

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Positions #3 presents new and existing work by Rossella Biscotti, Duncan Campbell, Maryam Jafri and Natasja Kensmil. Each of the artists  draws on extensive research, translating empirical data through different modes of story telling, image making and historicization. They often deploy a rich selection of archival material and historical analyses evoking different ecnomic, political, and social associations in the process. The resulting manifestations sit at the intersection of cultural anthropology and conceptual practice whilst drawing on a range of visual languages.

Rossella Biscotti
Biscotti (1978; Molfetta, Italy) focuses on forgotten social and political events. Following meticulous preliminary research she re-circulates these stories in her reconstructions. Biscotti won the Premio Michelangelo in 2010. The prize, the choice of a marble block from the Carrara quarry in Italy, is used as the starting point for a new work: The Journey. Biscotti will drop the marble block into the Mediterranean Sea. Inspired by scientific research and oceanography, she will identify the blocks new location through analyzing the environmental complexity of the Sicilian canal. She will overlap maps that trace historical commercial routes, migrant routes, artefacts and military deposit, analyzing the morphology of the seabed in the international water between Italy, Libya and Tunisia. The second new work in Positions #3 is called Clara, an installation around the rhinoceros, who became famous during 17 years of touring Europe in the mid-18th century and was transported to Europe by the VOC.

Duncan Campbell
The films of Duncan Campbell (1972; Dublin, Ireland) consist of a collage of archive recordings, documentary material and fictional film excerpts. The films question the validity of documentary form as historical representation, blurring fact, and fiction. In Positions #3 Campbell will show Arbeit (2011), the story of the German economist Hans Tietmeyer, one of the bureaucrats behind the European monetary union. A new commission—The Welfare of Tomás Ó Hallissy—on the remote Irish village of Dun Chaoin in Kerry will also be on view. The film focuses on two American anthropologists and their interest in individual subjectivity; and the pragmatic, deferential, and conservatively Catholic perspective of the people they are studying. The commissioned film is supported by IMMA, Dublin and Van Abbemuseum. WIELS, Brussels will host a solo exhibition in 2017.

Maryam Jafri
Jafri (1972; Karachi, Pakistan) frames her subjects meticulously, composing them afresh, renaming them and placing them in dialogue with each other. She questions the market orientation of our everyday lives. This can concern our food production and marketing, as in the installations Product Recall: An Index of Innovation (2014–15), Generic Corner (2015) and the video Mouthfeel (2014). Product Recall displays products that were withdrawn from the market. In some cases, products were recalled due to an unfortunate coincidence—as with Ayds diet cookies, whose sales plummeted with the advent of AIDS. In this way Jafri highlights the kind of "spells" cast on products by marketing strategists and food designers in their attempts to generate demand. Independence Day 1934-1975 categorises found images on the independence of former colonies. Analysing these photos shows how quickly these young nations assimilated to the norms of the colonial state.

Natasja Kensmil
Kensmil (1973; Amsterdam, the Netherlands) uses moments from (art) history to highlight the relationship between present and past. The movement of the Anabaptists has a central place in a number of her portraits and other history paintings. In her new silkscreens Martyrs Mirror, she incorporates fragments of their executions, depicted in prints by 17th century graphic artists. Kensmil structures and interweaves her extensive archive of (art) historical imagery to compose new, dynamic stories. She does not propose solutions or adopt a specific standpoint. Rather, she creates insights by discovering and evoking relationships and historical lines. She often uses barbaric images culled from mysticism and religion due to their lyrical power. With this, she makes past rituals and symbols accessible to us in the present.

Diana Franssen

Supported by Ammodo, Mondriaan Fund, Stichting Promotors Van Abbemuseum and Danish Arts Foundation.

Van Abbemuseum
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