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Transformations - group exhibition

Galleries Akinci

Lijnbaansgracht 317
1017 WZ Amsterdam
+31 (0)20 638 04 80

Open Tue - Sat / 13-18 hrs

Exhibition 18 Mar — 15 Apr

Opening 18 Mar, 17-19 hrs


Broersen & Lukács, Double Mirror, 2017 (film still), HD video, 18:30 min., music by Gwendolyn Thomas & Berend Dubbe

Participating artists:
Grösch & Metzger, Basir Mahmood, Stéphanie Saadé, Melanie Bonajo, and Broersen & Lukács

In Transformations, AKINCI assembles a number of works that involve ideas of change and growth, both in the works themselves as in the artistic process that precedes them. Subtle shifting, metamorphosis, and the act of becoming or unbecoming create a peculiar dynamic in visuals and energy.

On a formal level, the idea of transformation is inevitably manifest in the work of German artist duo Wiebke Grösch (1970) & Frank Metzger (1969). Their artistic practice is based on research techniques such as mapping, comparative analysis, interviews, statistics, historical and biographical investigation, which they use to design specific strategies for the images they create. Often, contradictory materials such as plants and iron or plaster reveal a delicate dependency between extremes. In their untitled leaf cubes (2014), for instance – an utterly precise pile of fig leaves, Grösch & Metzger balance fixed, solid geometric shapes with the unpredictable process of decay.

Basir Mahmood (1985, Pakistan), currently artist in residence at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, applies his own strategy to prompt the films he makes: carefully staged and mostly shot in his home country Pakistan, Mahmood plots situations that remain in a state of limbo between fiction and reality. His film ‘Thank you for coming’ (2013) is exemplary of this approach, for which Mahmood invited relatives, friends and their acquaintances to a supposed celebration without any obvious occasion. His guests linger remotely, eating a plate of food that is offered to them, sometimes performing gestures that are clearly choreographed, other times seemingly improvising in their intentionally undefined presence. Mahmood’s earlier work ‘Lunda Bazaar’ (2010), a video shot in Lahore’s busy second-hand clothing market, shows a more formal transformation that occurs when a piece of clothing moves from one body to another, from one culture to another. In a diffused slow-motion, ‘Lunda Bazaar’ captures a succession of men and one woman trying on clothes – typically from Western countries such as the United Kingdom or the United States, but also from Eastern countries such as Korea, Japan, and India – ­originally fabricated for a different climate and other fashion trends. The garments transform in the act of wearing, retaining their original past while at the same time they are made new.

The notion of time and its transforming force is also apparent in the work of Stéphanie Saadé (1983, Lebanon). Often springing from something familiar and every-day, her artistic practice is defined by rendering a given state to transcend the time, material or shape that once defined it. The question how to measure growth and transformation is central and expressed with touching simplicity, as in ‘The Shape of Distance’ (2016) for which Saadé welded the legs of a pupil’s table and chair with brass to reach the size of a professor’s table and chair. In her ‘Moongold’ series (2015) the idea of transformation is expressed by gilded crescents in casual snapshots of the sky at nightfall, ascribing a value both measurable in materiality as well as in its semiotics.

A similar ruffling of semiotics is encountered in an early series of photographs by Melanie Bonajo (1978, NL), which she created under the title ‘Völkerschau’ (2008). Depicting hazy images of different beasts, Bonajo draws parallels between ideas of early colonialism, zookeeping, and human attitudes towards animals, echoing into a future in which animals no longer exist and have permanently moved into a sphere of symbols. Retouched with colourful hues, sparkles and halo’s, the photographs become an imagined sanctuary that fuses ghosts of the past with ghosts of the future.

The route through Transformations is concluded with a new film by Persijn Broersen (1974, NL) & Margit Lukács (1973, NL). AKINCI is proud to present the premiere of their spectacular video work titled ‘Double Mirror’ (2017). Freely projected on the wall by daylight, Broersen & Lukács show an amalgam of words and objects, materials and textures, matter and anti-matter, circulating in a fluid state of continuous metamorphosis.


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