Dutch Minister opens Cinema Olanda

Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Prologue: Squat/ Anti-Squat (production still), 2016 Wendelien van Oldenborgh. Prologue: Squat/Anti-Squat (production still), 2016. Van Oldenborgh is represented by Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam

On May 10th at 12 hrs. Minister Bussemaker of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science will open the exhibition Cinema Olanda. Cinema Olanda is a collaborative project by artist Wendelien van Oldenborgh and curator Lucy Cotter for the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2017. It embraces national representation as an opportunity to reflect on the Netherlands’ (inter)national image in relation to the current rapid transformations in Dutch society. The exhibition takes as its conceptual departure point Gerrit Rietveld’s Dutch Pavilion (1953). Van Oldenborgh has created a major new (filmic) installation engaging with the architectural and social vision of the Netherlands inherent in the pavilion and its resonance in lived reality today.

Designed during the Postwar Reconstruction, when architecture was key to forging a new national image, the pavilion projects a progressive image of openness and transparency. Van Oldenborgh’s installation enters into dialogue with Rietveld’s architecture, highlighting its aesthetics yet creating tension with its underlying order. It houses her three new ‘films’ in which architecture offers a departure point for individuals from different generations to address recent events and postwar developments from personal and professional perspectives. The films convey an alternative narrative to the Netherlands’ self-image as a tolerant nation, revealing a complex and rapidly transforming social, cultural and political space, both in the ‘50s and today.

The title film, Cinema Olanda (2017), marks a bold new filmic step in the artist’s oeuvre by being shot in one uncut take in an attempt to connect an urban district in Rotterdam, several alternative voices behind Dutch postwar society, and current events in a momentary filmic reality. References range from revolutionary intellectual Otto Huiswoud to urban planner Lotte-Stam Beese. Prologue: Squat-Anti-Squat (2016, 2 x 17´), a two-part film, engages with architect Aldo van Eyck’s recently squatted Tripolis building in Amsterdam and a 1970’s Dutch-Caribbean squatting action, evoking transforming conceptions of solidarity. Footnotes to Cinema Olanda #1 and #3 (2017), large-scale lenticular images of the title film’s production, offer a condensed filmic experience, activating the viewer’s body in space.

Oldenborgh’s and Cotter’s collaborative project extends beyond the Dutch pavilion to bring ‘home’ the exhibition’s underlying questions about social imaginaries and their agency to a national audience. A multidisciplinary parallel program will take place at leading Dutch institutions: Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (17 June-20 August), EYE Film museum (13 June), and the Stedelijk Museum (30 June) in Amsterdam. An additional live event will take place in the pavilion on 23 June with contributions by Avery Gordon, Sarat Maharaj and Gloria Wekker.

The Mondriaan Fund, a publicly financed fund for visual arts and cultural heritage, is responsible for the organization of the Dutch entry to the Venice Biennale. For the 57th edition the Mondriaan Fund again issued an open call to curators, who were asked to produce a plan together with one or more artists in keeping with a state event. Cinema Olanda was selected from 68 proposals with a unanimous jury vote.

Cinema Olanda is partnered by Society of Arts (AvK), Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA), University of Amsterdam, Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam and Nuova Icona, Venice and has the kind support of CBK Rotterdam, City of Rotterdam and BPD.

Cinema Olanda: Wendelien van Oldenborgh is edited by Lucy Cotter. A visual documentation of the exhibition is accompanied by several essays by leading writers such as Beatriz Colomina, Denise Ferreira da Silva and Gloria Wekker. Published by Hatje Cantz /Mondriaan Fund.