press release

Three Positions from the artists Gluklya, Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti and Naeem Mohaiemen feature this winter in the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. The artists share an approach to art as a potentially activist practice that can depict the complexity of history, injustice and political change. The works use film, drawing, architecture, models, archives, texts and clothing to build up elaborate images of particular parts of the world and conditions in places both near and far away from Eindhoven. Together, they sketch out a continuous human presence in an uncertain world and what emerges in difficult situations when times demand action. Often the artistic practices sit at the crossroads of cultural anthropology, forensic science, documentary filmmaking, self-organization and collaboration. All three artists teach us—each in a different way—about the capacity of different minorities and marginal communities to cope with difficult life situations and survive, if not thrive, despite the powers exercised over them.

Gluklya / Natalia Pershina-Jakimanskaya, Russian, 1969, lives in Netherlands Gluklya uses clothes, costumes and performance to connect art and everyday life. She organised a Carnival of the Oppressed in Amsterdam and will bring a similiar project to the (from origin) Catholic south of the Netherlands, where Carnival is still a key event of the year. Working with refugees and asylum seekers, her elaborate participative projects create new conversations between art, the bourgeois art institution and the people on the receiving end of society’s disciplinary forces. She has worked with the collective Chto Delat in the past and here focuses on her own work.

Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal, Italian and Palestinian, live in Poland and Sweden Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti are architects, artists and educators, whose work combines critical and rigorous theoretical research with an architectural, artistic and pedagogical practice in service of justice and equality. This exhibition will be their first major retrospective and is organised in collaboration with NYU, Abu Dhabi and will tour further afterwards. It will focus on their work in Palestine over the past years in particular on the refugee camps and the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In 2012, Hilal and Petti founded Campus in Camps as an experimental educational programme hosted in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem using collective discussions and courses to transform the notions of “space” and “agency” into practical, community-driven interventions. Recently they have been tracing the connections between people in the camp and the towns and villages from which they were displaced since 1948. The exhibition will also feature the Tree School, a project developed with a black community in the North East of Brazil.

Naeem Mohaiemen, Bangladeshi, 1969, lives in USA Naeem Mohaiemen is a Bangladeshi artist, filmmaker, writer and historian. He will show three works including the much acclaimed Two Meetings and a Funeral commissioned by Documenta 14. Also on show will be Last Man in Dhaka Central, The Young Man Was, Part 3 about a Dutchman who supported the brief socialist period in Bangladesh in the 1970s and United Red Army, The Young Man Was, Part 1 (70') (2011/2012) about the hijacking of a plane by Japanese radicals. All the films inquire in “global history” and build on the unrealised possibilities of the past to question the present. They are long, fascinating and sometimes confronting images for a western public used to the comforts of cultural certainty and might resonate today with the current European discussion about its ethnic identity, colonial history and racial discrimination.

Positions #4 uses the same basic format as before: a series of solo exhibitions set in dialogue with one another in the ten galleries of the Van Abbemuseum's old building. Each artist presents a significant body of work over more than one room, though the rooms are not evenly divided between each participant. The individual components of Positions are usually produced in collaboration with other international museums and art organizations. Positionsis a platform to explore and introduce what we as a museum consider the most compelling contemporary visual, object-based and immaterial art approaches to our local and international publics.

Positions #4 is curated by Charles Esche and Diana Franssen with production by Inge Borsje, Antoine Derksen and Diederik Koppelmans.