Saskia van der Kroef

  • Sander Breure and Witte van Hulzen

    The question of whether or not it is appropriate to make art based on such an immense tragedy as the 2011 massacre on the Norwegian island Utøya no longer seems relevant. According to the Dutch documentarian John Appel, whose film about the mass murder opened the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in November, the Norwegian Socialist Party was swamped with requests by filmmakers who wanted to interview survivors, just as he did. And even before the premiere of Appel’s film, the young artists Sander Breure and Witte van Hulzen exhibited a video installation The Shores of an Island

  • Jeroen Eisinga

    When Zhang Huan in his early work 12m², 1994, spread fish oil and honey on his naked body to attract flies, then sat for an hour in a filthy public toilet in Beijing, this was a silent form of social protest. For his film Springtime, 2010–11, the Dutch artist Jeroen Eisinga did something similar but with a completely different intention. The artist had his upper body and head totally covered by honeybees after sprinkling a liquid containing a hormone from a queen bee on it. Although this is an established practice, known as bee bearding, with its own competitions and record holders, it remains

  • “Specters of the Nineties”

    In the wake of the recent dramatic decline of Dutch government support for the arts and contemporary art in particular, which culminated in the announcement in June 2011 of draconian cutbacks, some commentators in the Netherlands pointed out the alacrity with which artists and other art professionals have previously met political demands to prove their social and economic relevance. According to such critics, artists have made themselves vulnerable by succumbing, since the early 1990s, to the prevailing logic that art could either be a constructive trouble-shooter for social problems or become

  • Gert Jan Kocken

    Gert Jan Kocken has mostly been associated with his photographic series “Defacing,” 2004–2009, a (seemingly) straightforward presentation of mutilated artworks and Bibles that survived a wave of iconoclastic fury in northern Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Four years of research, in combination with Kocken’s characteristic technical precision, provided completely new imagery, challenging collective memory; the outbreak has been represented, of course, mainly in texts and an occasional print, but not in the actual objects of destruction. Kocken captured these “victims” with

  • “I’m Not Here. An Exhibition Without Francis Alÿs”

    With solo shows in three major European institutions this year (London’s Tate Modern, Brussels’s Wiels Contemporary Art Center, and the Bonnefantenmuseum, in Maastricht, the Netherlands), Francis Alÿs seems to be everywhere you look. So this group show, curated by the six participants in this year’s de Appel Curatorial Programme, was timely indeed. Presenting a thoughtful selection of work by fourteen artists (none of them Alÿs), the curators conjured the atmosphere of Alÿs’s multifaceted, sometimes elusive oeuvre, without actually showing any of it. Their Barthes-inspired aim was to critically

  • Ettore Sottsass

    Ettore Sottsass (1917–2007) is best known for founding the Memphis group, the “coup de théâtre”—as his wife and biographer Barbara Radice described it—that shook the design world in the 1980s. But at the Marres Centre for Contemporary Culture, it was an earlier and more specific object by the Italian architect and designer that was on display: the Superbox Cabinet, several variations of which were developed between 1965 and 1967. Titled “We Were Exuberant and Still Had Hope,” the show formed the third episode of the institution’s investigation into the twentieth-century avant-gardes, following

  • Folkert de Jong

    Since 2001, Folkert de Jong has been working with Styrofoam and polyurethane foam, the now common insulation materials produced by Dow Chemical—whose laboratories also, of course, produced napalm and dioxin. This dubious backdrop, together with the materials’ hazards to health and environment, contrasts deeply with the institution’s characteristically innocent blue or pink coloring. Although lightweight and even vulnerable, these foams will probably outlast bronze and marble. De Jong deliberately engages such contradictions. Confronting the materials’ positive poles (friendly colors, lightness)

  • Berend Strik

    As piercing as two gigantic eyes, a monumental, psychedelic diptych replicates the image of a dome in Berend Strik’s latest exhibition—dominating the gallery space and encapsulating the characteristics that have been crucial to the artist’s work since the late 1980s: photographic images rigorously reworked as embroidery, with brightly colored fabrics and threads; a passion for architecture; and allusions to personal narrative. The Face in the Building or History Crying (all works 2009) forms a dazzling dissection and doubling of the cupola of the Szeged Synagogue in Hungary. Strik stitched

  • Renzo Martens

    Renzo Martens proposes to a group of Congolese photographers that they should take pictures of war corpses, raped women, and malnourished children—just as Western journalists do. Martens’s provocative position is that poverty is Africa’s most important export product, and the poor should learn how to profit from it. ENJOY POVERTY PLEASE, reads the bright neon sign Martens shamelessly brings in to the remotest villages; it also serves as the title of the ninety-minute video he shot in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Spotlighted as the opening film of the twenty-first International Documentary

  • Maaike Schoorel

    Aptly titled “Album,” Maaike Schoorel’s first solo museum show offers eleven paintings from the past four years that are as ungraspable as sun-bleached photographs or developing Polaroids. At first, Schoorel’s canvases seem almost blank; they appear to be abstract monochromes in shades of white. However, with some effort on the viewer’s part, subtle brushstrokes of pale colors and soft lines convincingly emerge to suggest an image.

    Schoorel’s slow art aims to intensify the act of perception. In providing only the fragments of an unknown scene, her paintings are reminiscent of Cy Twombly’s works