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

Every two years, the Dutch pavilion of the Venice Biennale functions as an important stage that contributes to the international allure of art from the Netherlands. It enables the production of new and topical work, and addresses relevant issues in art and society. As commissioner, the Mondriaan Fund is responsible for the Dutch entry.

Remy Jungerman and Iris Kensmil selected for the Dutch Pavilion in 2019

Work of visual artists Remy Jungerman (1959) and Iris Kensmil (1970), 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, which is to take place in 2019. 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 concept of The Measurement of Presence arose as a reflection of the history of the biennale and the location, from conversations between the curator and the artists, and from the current discourse. These elements form the context of the exhibition.
The Venice Biennale has been held since 1895. I Giardini, where the national pavilions are located, largely reflect the geopolitical relations of the 20th century. But it is also a place that has undergone a transformation in the previous century. Originally, the pavilions were intended as national show rooms, based on 19th century concepts of nationalism. During the 20th century, this view gave way to an unquestioning faith in the universal values of modernism. Both dogmas didn’t allow any deviations from these views. Today, it is clear that both viewpoints are finished. The permanent flow of people and artefacts breaks through boundaries and produces new identities outside of and separate from those of the nation state. Different places and societies are becoming ever more interconnected in our globalised world. But globalization also causes alignment and imposes dominant principles. As a result, we risk losing the specific. It is clear that change is necessary; it isn’t always clear how it should be achieved.

The Measurement of Presence will be a post-national presentation in which curators and artists aim to reassess and debunk these notions and mechanisms. They wish to demonstrate the power of letting go and setting things in motion. The artists Remy Jungerman and Iris Kensmil, who present new work in The Measurement of Presence, have developed an alternative approach with regard to what connects us. They don’t strive for the preservation of the status quo. Instead, they embrace being in motion. They investigate traditions and the past and bring that into contact with the present. Their transnational attitude brings together influences from various backgrounds. In their work, they combine the inspiration that they find in 20th-century modernism and avant-garde – especially in Mondriaan and De Stijl, and in artist stanley brouwn – with elements from other traditions and positions. In doing this, they size up the world. They register and determine the position of their presence relative to the other and the world. This seems not just a fruitful attitude for artists, but also an example for the creation of new models for society.
Both Remy Jungerman and Iris Kensmil, at particular moments in their lives, left the place they had spent their childhood, in order to continue their artistic development in the Netherlands. These artists chose and still choose autonomously for change. They don’t start from a specific Surinamese or Dutch way of thinking. On the contrary, their visions provide an impulse and form splendid examples of our transnational culture.

For the presentation in the Dutch pavilion, both artists will make new work that is to be brought together in an exhibition in which the measurement proportions within the Rietveld pavilion will also play a role.

Catalogue and side programme
On the occasion of the exhibition, an accompanying catalogue will be published, in which various international artists and authors present their vision of the meaning of transnationalism for the artistic practice. In addition, the curator and artists, in collaboration with various international organisations, will organise a side programme in order to introduce the concept of the exhibition and to shed light on the subject of transnationalism.

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 (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.