Stories

Mike Moonen Josje Hattink Isolde Venrooy Hannah Dawn Henderson Edwin Stolk Lado Darakhvelidze Iriée Zamblé Heidi Linck Mireille Tap
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Throwback with Mike Moonen

Two years ago Mike Moonen and Ide André took over Expoplu during Expoplu Experiment: Flip it, Stew Pit. We asked Mike how he looks back on this period, what he’s doing right now and how the crisis influences his work.

Expoplu was hearty and the collaboration was enriching. I’ve got to known Ide better throughout that period and the passages were fun because we both have a very different method. We tried to find a common ground and create a whole without one predominating the other. We’ve also ruined things for the other, but we could laugh about it. We’ve also talked a lot about music and in my memory the build up was intense and fun at the same time. This is also seen in the video “Handyman”, which was created.

What is Mike currently doing?
Making a mess and cleaning it up. I always work on multiple things at the same time and I’m also dusting a lot of old archives. Boxes, stacks of folders inside folders on my laptop. You encounter some stuff when you’ve been dragging everything with you to the atelier. Furthermore, I’m adjusting works from other people, which I’ve bought from the thrift shop. Often, it’s already ‘bad’ but not necessarily weird. I try to give it the finishing touch. Currently, it cannot be vague enough for me, and it’s quite difficult to aspire that. I’m also recording mix tapes and sit it my chair a lot.

How are you doing right now and how is covid-19 influencing your practise?
I’m in this weird state of tranquillity because everything is delayed. For instance, we can’t perform with the band, and preparing for exhibitions is not really necessary right now. Everything is going in a lower gear and that gives me more time to reflect. That’s why I’m spending a lot of time at the atelier. The reflection may sound passive, but for me it works activating. It helps to find a new set of goals and to try and do more. I need to watch out that I’m not going to get bored with everything, but that seems unlikely.

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Throwback with Josje Hattink

In June 2018 Josje Hattink participated in the exhibition “(un)controllable territories” alongside Akmar, Naïmé Perrette, Thijs Linssen and Rob Voerman. We asked Josje how she looks back on this period, what she’s doing right now and how the crisis influences her work.

It’s already a while ago since I exhibited the work All is Well in the Garden at Expoplu. During that periode I still studied at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam and was interested in the peat landscapes. I started with that during a working period as artist in residence at the arthouse SYB in 2017. The artworks that originated from that were not exhibited in a ‘clean’ space, but remained until then near the original landscapes. Exhibiting at Expoplu was a good opportunity to isolate the work from the outdoors, and to explore how it functions in a white exhibition space, surrounded with work of other artists. It was interesting to see how the audio part of my work became more important at Expoplu than it had been before, and how the audience were more reliant on their imagination.

What is Josje currently doing?
This is a weird period, in which I had to let go of projects, but also in which I’ve begun to try new things. The past six months I’ve been busy with preparations for an artist in residence at Banff Arts Centre, where I would’ve worked for a month, starting in June 2020. I’ve put a lot of time and effort in making plans and setting up the project. The residence is cancelled because of the corona measures and I’m feeling very unfortunate about it. I still want to execute the part of the project which would be done in the Netherlands, but in order to be able to do that the measures need to be relaxed.

At this moment I keep myself busy with a until recently hidden part of my practise: aquarelle drawings. I’ve always made these as sketches for projects, or for conceiving the research I did for a project. Aquarelle paint is a very fine material, because you cannot fully control it: only after the paint has dried you can observe what you’ve created. Right now, I’m seriously exploring how I can implement this medium in work that I want to exhibit. Recently, I’ve done a test with a small exhibition at De Aanschouw in Rotterdam. Next to that I make a lot of drawings of my stone collection: the souvenirs of my trips from around the whole world. Now that they’re all together in a chest, the trips connected to the stones seem irrelevant. Traveling in these days has become a little irrelevant all together.

How is covid-19 influencing your practise?
All projects, travels, exhibitions and meetings have been cancelled or postponed. That’s frustrating and unfortunate, but it is what it is. The alternative is the digital world. I try my best to keep up with all the skype-sessions and I Zoom until I drop. It helps a little and for practical meetings it functions fine. However, it stays a little bit weird to talk to a screen. Luckily, I encounter my colleagues in the studio and that keeps the work mentality in place. I look forwards to be able to have meetings with project partners and to have collaborations.

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Throwback with Isolde Venrooy

In 2017 Isolde Venrooy participated in the exhibition ‘The One Day Collective’. We asked Josje what she’s doing right now, how the crisis influences her work and what she has planned in the nearby future.

My fine arts practise consists mostly of paintings, installations, and walks. In my artistry I find a constant exchange between making and thinking. Currently I engross myself in theory and go outside to do experiments in the landscapes. Every day I walk over hushed tracks in the Ooijpolder and along the moraine. Every time another element is prominent: a crow who collects paper tissues in a chimney, twelve storks who settle soundlessly and form a group in a meadow, the deepening grooves in the dry crust of the earth. During the walks, questions arise about my art practise, the relevance of fine arts in the current spirit of age and my position in the public space.

What has she been doing recently and how does COVID-19 influence her work?
The past few weeks I’ve written texts about my art practise, for applications and for exhibitions coming fall. Despite this period of quarantine, there is still a demand for my work. I am developing a new walking-work for the exhibition Mind Your Step of Zone2Source located in the Amstelpark in Amsterdam. In addition I’ve been asked last week to develop a walk based on theory of speculative design and science fiction. Because of COVID-19 the exhibition ‘on looking’ at Galerie O-68 in Velp has been delayed until further notice. I find it quite nice, because right now I’ve more time and space to develop my newest work MAGIC. MAGIC (2020) is based on the idea that our interpretation of our surroundings can change with a simple ritual act.

How is she doing right now and what are her plans for the near future?
In the coming period I will prepare for my residency in 2021 at the @SundayMorning EKWC, which is a internationally oriented post-academic institution for Ceramics in Oisterwijk. During this residency I will produce new ceramic viewing tools, which I will activate during walking sculptures. In a few weeks I will present – together with Marlies van Hak – a critical intervention for the research trajectory of the Honourslab of the Radbound University. Besides that, a sketch proposal is running for a public participation work for the municipality of Nijmegen. At last I coordinate the Zomerlab PREPPEN for ArtEZ, which is a multidisciplinary project in which 140 first year students of Art and Design, and Theatre students work together for a week from different location I the Netherlands. During these interdisciplinary meetings there is an artistic exploration based on contemporary social-cultural issues. The past few weeks I have had conversations with participating artists, like Tinkerbell, Daan Couzijn and Domenique Himmelbach de Vries. It’s inspiring to think together with other artists and art student about important questions during these uncertain times.

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Throwback with Hannah Dawn Henderson

In 2019 Hannah Dawn Henderson participated in the exhibition ‘On the Line of the Equator’, together with Mirthe van Duppen, Joyce Overheul, Julius Thissen, Eef Veldkamp and Puck Verkade. We asked Hannah what she’s doing right now, how the crisis influences her work and what she has planned in the nearby future.

"It was refreshing to participate in an exhibition outside of my known context; much of my activity in The Netherlands has been located in the western part of the country, in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague; however, I’m eager to familiarize myself with art communities and project spaces outside of these well-known cultural hubs, not in the least because I think it’s important to challenge that typical notion that in order to be active as an artist one must always focus on larger cities. My experience at Expoplu very much reiterated to me how inaccurate that presumption can be, and strengthened my interest in looking further afield."

What is keeping her busy right now?
"My main occupation at the moment is trying to adjust to these new conditions. As an immigrant, living in a country where one doesn’t have family and one’s social network tends to be limited, it’s not atypical to experience a sense of loneliness from time to time; yet in circumstances like this, such a sentiment becomes all the more pronounced and frequent. Artistically speaking, I notice that there has been a shift in my attentions — this is simply an echo of how all my attentions as of late have shifted — and lately I start to think a lot about what it means to be ‘well’, what it is to be alone versus lonely, to be at ‘home’ and yet not, and in what ways do we undertake little, hidden rituals to maintain a sense of optimism, hope, groundedness."

How does the crisis influence her work?
"Generally, I feel I will only be able to truly recognize the impact of this period once it has actually passed and is long behind us. Well, that usually is the case when one is in a state of crisis. It is only with a retrospective gaze that it proves possible to make sense of things and trace a narrative of development. Yet, for the time being, the current circumstances have certainly pulled to the forefront of my mind a lot of questions and thoughts, which are still very much unfolding."

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Throwback with Edwin Stolk

In 2014 artist Edwin Stolk researched our relationship with the public space of the Keizer Karelplein in Nijmegen, on invitation of curator Stijn Van Dorpe. How does he look back on this working period?

My working period was very interesting and educational. I have experienced what art can and cannot do if it steps outside the white walls of Expoplu. Local politici called up the inhabitants of Nijmegen to relate to the public greenery in the city, which kept the rules blurry. When I wanted to facilitate this civic engagement around the park at the Keizer Karelplein, this was not appreciated by the former D66 councillor. The artistic process with the title 24/7_Trojan brought to light that culture was meant to lose from the economic interests. It was a missed opportunity if you ask me. The park in the centre of the roundabout was during a cutback named as ‘kijkgroen’ and everything pointed to the fact that it was meant to stay that way.

How is he doing right now and what keeps him busy?
These are weird times, but I feel belligerent. Last year I could work a whole year at the Brugse Poort in Ghent in Belgium. I’ve organized ‘De Zetting’ together with Koen and the residents. This sound artwork was inspired by the ancient Flemish sport of Checkmark. Checkmark is played by counting for an hour in long row how often the birds in his cage sings ‘suskewiet’ correctly. During ‘De Zetting’ the residents played the bird song that fit their house twice for an hour with their window ajar. In this way the streets of a multicultural neighbourhood could fill themselves with a rich diversity of bird sounds. At this moment there are a few ‘open dossiers’ which I’m working on. This is how I call plans which ask more time to be developed. Most of the time I work on a multitude of ideas at the same time.

How does the crisis influence your work and how do you look at the future?
Culture stand for me for a shared experience in which everyone can participate, and corona is making these – already difficult – encounters nearly impossible. I’ve seen a lot of ‘open calls’ for artists with the question to react to the corona crisis, I don’t feel the need to. Ramsey Nasr recently spoke at Buitenhof about the role of art during the corona time. Artists would eminently be able to visualise unthinkable scenarios. I wonder if some colleagues have already been invited by policymakers after his performance. With or without this ciris I worry about the lousy position of art and her role in society. With a lot of time and attention I’m trying to break through the boxing culture and ask critical cultural question based on shared responsibility.

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Reminiscing with Lado Darakhvelidze

In 2017 Lado Darakhvelidze participated in the exhibition ‘Alternative Truths’, alongside Domenique Himmelsbach de Vries, Anneke Ingwersen, Lyubov Matyunina, Rune Peitersen and Belit Sağ. We asked him how he looks back on this show.

‘This particular show at Expoplu was very well organised. I liked working with Youri Appelo. The work I showed was ‘Cooking the new Planet,’ which displays leftist historical figures such as Karl Marx and Antonio Gramsci with their ideological descendants, in this case, Slavoj Žižek and Mikhail Bakhtin, generating tongue-in-cheek imagery of the heritage of leftist ideology.’

'This crisis definitely influenced my work. The exhibition in the Tbilisi State Silk museum in May was postponed. Instead, from February till now I'm actively reading the seminars of Jacques Lacan and got inspired by his teaching. I'm working in my studio on the project MTVS -The Corona edition. We have created an open platform for activities by neighbours of our studio. Its practical content is available on Museum TV station - De corona editie'.

‘I am working on a (postponed) ongoing project The Caucasian History Lesson; The starting premise of this chalkboard project are the (questionable) ways in which history is taught in schools; the educational system being a crucial site where our understanding and visions of the world, as well as our place in it, are formed. This realization stemmed from explorations of history books old and new, having become increasingly aware of how different nations and interest groups portray the same key events in past and recent history in radically contrasting ways. It will be on view later this year in The State Silk Museum.’

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Throwback with Iriée Zamblé

Last year Iriée Zamblé collaborated with the Nijmeegse Kunstnacht at Expoplu with the African Museum. We asked her how she looked back on this expo.

The exhibition during the art night was one of the first exhibitions after my graduation in which I felt like I was surrounded with like-minded people. From curator to co-exhibitioner to the public. That felt refreshing.

Black people have had the main role in work for some years because I can recognize myself in them. The representation of black people is something in which a lot narrative can still be created, from our own perspective. It was never as evident as today. The ‘contemporary cultural developments’ don’t play a role in this. The contemporary society through which I navigate does play a role. Busy cities give nourishment and energy for new work. The things that I notice when we pass each other in a rush are the things which I take with me in my work. That is a element which is more visible in my work since the exhibition at Expoplu.

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Trowback with Heidi Linck 

Heidi Linck was a co-curator in 2010 at Expoplu. We asked her how she looks back upon this working period.

In 2010 I’ve collaborated together with Simon van Til (artist) and Ramona Kun-Kuti (art historian) to develop and curate the program Synchronic Spaces. During this program we explored when something could be an exhibition space, in which we expanded the given space of Expoplu with flyers, publications and even the mind of our public. Every one of them could be spaces in which we could place art and artists. We also have done some things in the public space of Nijmegen. We took our program to the Kunstvlaai, the anarchistic and non-commercial opposition of the in those days prominent art fair Art Amsterdam.

We named every exhibition a Volume. This experimental year program was partly prompted by the position Expoplu found themselves in: the exhibition space would be remodelled and there was no budget available whatsoever. During that year the exhibition space was also used by other initiatives in the building. Which, for instance, lead to the surprise of having a space-filling installation and a flea market at the same time, something which we were okay with. We were forced, but also already inspired from our own practices, to explore the possibilities of exhibitions outside of the normal exhibition space. The remodelling was executed years later, by the way.

My practise has not been changed through my work for Expoplu, it’s more like the other way around in which the program strongly originated from my believes about art and space. Although, my practise has moved more clearly and more radically to the public space and to projects in which the public participates. What we did with Synchronic Spaces already contained the first beginnings. In hindsight, it would have been bolder if we would’ve closed the entire exhibition space and said that we wanted to program everywhere except inside. The best exhibition is a closed and empty space.

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Throwback with Mireille Tap

In 2015 Mireille Tap participated in the exhibition Cyborgy, curated by Silke van de Grift. We asked her how she looks back upon this exhibition.

At that moment, I hadn’t graduated yet and realised only after that this was the first time I did a live performance. There’s a publication online which gives you a good impression of the show. The photo is from the work Baby Girl from 2014. This work is about the matter of when a baby grows older, that it becomes more difficult to decide who is responsible for their care.

Just before the corona crisis, I moved to Nijmegen, to a house with housemates. This nice living space has seriously been my saviour from the isolation. With work I have started to launch a new artists collective: Syzygy. Together with Brieke Drost, Sibylle Eimermacher, Ghislaine Schlechta I organize with Syzygy exhibitions around the themes from our own art practises, in the interest of displaying our art and the art from colleagues. Synzygy stands for the intuitive, soft, connecting, fragile powers within the artworld and society, and cherishes solidarity.

General human needs, like contact and safety, often play a role in my work. These themes have suddenly become very relevant for a lot people because of the pandemic. It forces me to think about the core of my work and what mattered to me. The growing attention for anti-racist movements and the left politics of Nijmegen made my activism spark. I’m ready to fight and grateful to learn more about, for instance, racism. So, that can put in more effort for a better, more inclusive, society. Next to that, I take the cultural aspects of my work (like social inequality, power structures and our responsibility for each other) more serious. To speak your mind is also a large part of my practise. I’m usually not really a dominant speaker, but during a performance I feel the power from necessity to literally and figuratively use my voice. (voice) sound has a unrelenting character, you can’t easily shut it out and it’s not always predictable. It’s a radical tool to own the attention of the viewer.