Manifesta is proud to present the group exhibition Theatre Dreams of a Beautiful Afternoon – Part 2 by Annet Gelink Gallery. The exhibition is the second part of the gallery’s last group show and displays a large number of premiering gems by the nine artists. The works displayed at our Herengracht office in Amsterdam inhabit and relate to this space in its own way; the works spread throughout the building and garden engage with the environment in their form and meaning. Some refer to contemporary political and social issues, such as the turbulent time in Europe, the disunity and uncertainty of the future of this continent. Others pose questions on belonging, identity and privacy.
Since 2013, Manifesta Foundation is housed in a historical Herengracht canal house. In order to make our unique office space accessible to the public and to engage with the Amsterdam artistic and gallery world we started an ongoing series of exhibitions. Each half-year a different Amsterdam based contemporary art gallery is invited to curate a site-specific show, specially made to reflect the history of the building and the place.
For this occasion Antonis Pittas has crated a special installation that consists of a tire-like marble sculpture based on the materials used in violence associated with the protest movement that has swept through (mostly Southern) Europe; and graphite texts on the marble floor and doorframe in the hallway of Manifesta. His use of marble emphasizes the tension between the mutable and passing element. Pittas makes this violence physical, hardening it in the durable material of marble. In doing so, he also monumentalizes the small occurrences that form public history, by using texts derived from the news reports on the current situation in Syria.
In the back room, on the ground floor Yael Bartana’s neon We Shall be Strong in our Weakness is another example of a work reflecting on the difficulties of a politically and socially disunified world by referring to Bartana’s film Zamach in which multinational community and the brand new Polish society is brought to the ultimate test. It is by means of the symbolic death of the leader of the Jewish Renaissance Movement that the myth of the new political movement is unified — a movement which can become a concrete project to be implemented in Poland, Europe, or the Middle East in the days to come.
At the end of the hallway an installation by Erik van Lieshout is on view. It consists of 19 drawings, which he made while working on his feature film Work, 2015. In Work, we witness the many moments of Van Lieshout’s hectic life and critical conscience, as he over-shares and shreds common codes of privacy, inhaling everything in sight, in order to refashion it into commentary spoken through the persona of the artist. Throughout Work, he talks to himself and us and everyone around him.
The use of text, reflection on Europe, society and privacy, even on intimacy is also present in Johannes Schwartz’s four-channel digital slide piece in which images of contemporary Athens and its inhabitants are shown.
Barbara Visser’s carpet piece Baroque Ceiling, 2013 perfectly fits the location of the building on the Herengracht as this large woven tapestry depicts the current condition of a baroque ceiling as it is conserved in the storage of the Amsterdam Museum collection. The tapestry mirrors a 19th century copy of an original 17th century ceiling that could be the one in the room at the Herengracht where the work is located now. In this way the piece engages with the space in its particular manner