Venice Biennale

(L) Remy Jungerman, image in front: FODU. HOLDER, 2015; image at the back: INITIANDS, 2015. (R) Iris Kensmil, Rhythm of Dutch spoken Words, 2015. Foto: Gert Jan van Rooij (L) Remy Jungerman, image in front: FODU. HOLDER, 2015; image at the back: INITIANDS, 2015. (R) Iris Kensmil, Rhythm of Dutch spoken Words, 2015. Foto: Gert Jan van Rooij

Dutch Entry 58th Venice Biennale

The Measurement of Presence
Iris Kensmil and Remy Jungerman

An exhibition at the Dutch Pavilion

Curator: Benno Tempel
Commissioner: Mondriaan Fund
11 May – 24 November 2019
Preview: 8 – 10 May (Opening Dutch Pavilion: 8 May 12:00 hrs.)

Work of visual artists Iris Kensmil (1970) en Remy Jungerman (1959), brought together in a joint presentation by curator Benno Tempel (director of the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague), has been selected as the Dutch contribution to the 58th edition of the Venice Biennale. The selection of this exhibition, titled The Measurement of Presence, was announced by the Mondriaan Fund, which was advised in their selection by an international jury.

The idea for the exhibition arose from a reflection on the history of the biennale and its location (the modernist pavilion of architect Gerrit Rietveld), from conversations between the curator and the artists, and from current debates.
The Venice Biennale has been organised since 1895. The Giardini, where the national pavilions are located, largely reflect the geopolitical relations of the 20th century. It is, however, also a place that has undergone a transformation in the previous century. Originally, the pavilions were meant as national show rooms, based on 19th century concepts about nationalism. During the 20th century this view gave way to an unconditional belief in the universal values of modernism. Today it is clear that both viewpoints have been abandoned. The permanent flow of people and objects breaks through national boundaries and leads to the emergence of new identities. Places and societies become intertwined in a globalized world. The Measurement of Presence is a transnational presentation that reflects on these developments.

Within their work, artists Remy Jungerman and Iris Kensmil investigate traditions and the past, and bring them into contact with the present. Their transnational position brings together influences from various backgrounds. In their work, they combine the inspiration they find in 20th century modernism and the avant-garde with elements from other traditions and positions. As a result, the artists measure the possibilities of changes.

Remy Jungerman, INITIANDS, 2015. Foto: Aatjan Renders

Remy Jungerman, INITIANDS, 2015. Foto: Aatjan Renders

In his work, Remy Jungerman brings together motifs from the modernism of De Stijl, the Marron culture and rituals of the Winti religion, evoking interaction and exposing blind spots in art history. He is interested in the journey of patterns and motifs. For the pavilion in Venice, Jungerman creates two installations in which he wants to bring together the strengths of the ancestors of the Netherlands in the broadest sense – from the Netherlands to Suriname, Indonesia and elsewhere – with the intention of connecting the various cultures and entering into a future-oriented, open conversation. A third work is an ode to stanley brouwn, an important source of inspiration for both Jungerman and Kensmil.

Iris Kensmil @Club Solo, 2015. Foto: Gert Jan van Rooij

Iris Kensmil @Club Solo, 2015. Foto: Gert Jan van Rooij

Iris Kensmil describes her work as the painting of memories, with which she refers to making the hitherto ignored history of black people visible. She introduces us to black authors, philosophers, activists and musicians. By adding ideas from the past to our current knowledge, she broadens our awareness, allowing room for change to arise. But her work doesn’t just reflect on history, it also adds new dimensions to the present. Kensmil makes a monumental installation that will cover several walls, in which she connects the utopian thinking of modernism with seven female intellectuals whose work offers a typical perspective on modernity and the future.

The work of both artists is brought together in an exhibition in which the measurement proportions within the Rietveld pavilion will also play a role. The pavilion will function as a square where the public can meet each other, and may engage with the work. This will give rise not only to an exciting interaction, but the exhibition can also be seen as an example for today’s society, in which the movement of people and objects leads to a convergence of various ideas.

Catalogue and side program
On the occasion of the exhibition, an English catalogue will be published by Hannibal Publishers in cooperation with the Mondriaan Fund. In this catalogue, several international artists and authors will present their vision on the meaning of transnationalism for the artistic practice. With articles by Jessica de Abreu; Nick Aikens; Paul Goodwin; Charl Landvreugd; Willem de Rooij; Greg Tate; Benno Tempel and Allison Young. The catalogue contains images of the works and of the exhibition itself.

In addition, the curator and the artists, in cooperation with various (inter)national organisations, will organise a side program in order to introduce the concept of the exhibition, and to highlight the subject of transnationalism. The first debate was organised in cooperation with The Black Archives, and took place on 23 February 2019. A group of international artists, writers and curators have spoken from various perspectives about the meaning of the transnational for the artistic practice, both in general and in the work of Remy Jungerman and Iris Kensmil in particular. Subjects included the diaspora and the journey taken by patterns, the gaps in our knowledge of history, black feminism, and the role of the ritual in contemporary art.

Benno Tempel, Remy Jungerman, Iris Kensmil. Foto: Khalid Amakran

Benno Tempel, Remy Jungerman, Iris Kensmil. Foto: Khalid Amakran

Click here for the complete plan that Benno Tempel developed together with Remy Jungerman and Iris Kensmil.

Commissioner Mondriaan Fund
The Mondriaan Fund is responsible for the Dutch presence during the Venice Biennale. The presentation in the Rietveld pavilion is financed from the international budget that the fund receives from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). For the 58th edition, the Mondriaan Fund issued an open call to curators and artists to submit an exhibition plan. The jury selected the proposal of Benno Tempel out of seventy proposals that were submitted in early 2018.

The jury members for the Dutch entry in 2019 are the following: Carlos Amorales (visual artist, participant in the Dutch Pavilion in 2003 and solo participant in the Mexican Pavilion in 2017), Zippora Elders (freelance curator and artistic director of Kunstfort near Vijfhuizen), Xander Karskens (artistic director of the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in Amstelveen and curator of the Finnish Pavilion in Venice 2017), Mirjam Westen (curator of contemporary art in Museum Arnhem and jury member of the Dutch entry in 2017), and chair Birgit Donker (former director of the Mondriaan Fund).

Here you can read the blog post that Birgit Donker wrote on the occasion of the Dutch entry.

The Venice Biennale is to take place from 11 May to 24 November 2019.