Imago: fin de siecle in Dutch contemporary art

[beginPage: General information]

Imago: fin de siècle in Dutch contemporary art was a traveling exhibition funded by Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst (nowadays the ICN, The Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage) and organized by Montevideo, what nowadays is known as the Netherlands Institute of Media Art. Opening in Amsterdam during the 6 th edition of KunstRai Imago exposed thirteen Dutch artworks ranging from mediative video installations to computer-driven systems. From the early 1990 till the late 1993, the exhibition visited nine countries in Europe and Asia. This site contains information about the locations the exhibition visited, the artists and their artworks exhibited, providing at the same time access to other related documents like floorplans, the exhibition catalogue, pictures of the artworks and international press responses about this event.

The main idea behind Imago's concept was to introduce to a wider public the different ways in which artists in the Netherlands incorporate new technological advances. The fin de siècle part of the title refers to the closing years of the previous century in which Rene Coelho, the curator of this exhibition, saw the emerging of more technological oriented art forms. The selection of artworks which were finally exhibited reflects clearly this view.

During the pre-selection of the thirteen artworks for this exhibition many changes took place. Jeffrey Shaw's Heaven's Gate was eventually replaced by Revolution while Lydia Schouten's A Civilization Without Secrets by A Virus of Sadness. Both of them along with Bill Spinhoven's Albert's Ark were composed especially for the Imago exhibition. Eventually, the following artworks appeared in every location: Panta Rhei (1988) by Ricardo Fuglistahler , Pompei (1989) by Boris Gerrets, Radiant, a personal observatory (1988/89) by Madelon Hooykaas and Elsa Stansfield, Palinuro (1989) by Nol de Koning, The Fire (1988) by Rene Reitzema, A Virus of Sadness (1990) by Lydia Schouten, Mill x Mollen (1982) by Bert Schutter, I am Stuck Between The Millstones (1989) by Servaas , Revolution (1989) by Jeffrey Shaw, Albert's Ark (1990) by Bill Spinhoven, Forma Lucis vi (1989) by Roos Theuws, Nature Morte (1988) by Giny Vos, and Venuus Nee/ Praecox (1988) by Peter Zegveld. The official catalogue of the exhibition was published by Mediamatic in cooperation with Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst in 1990 and can be viewed as a PDF document through this website. After the end of Imago's four year in 1993 tour the artworks were stored at the collection of the Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst


[beginPage: Venues]

 Imago, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Edition Imago from 30.5 - 4.6.1990 read more »

 Imago, Locarno, Switzerland
Edition Imago from 29.8 - 20.9.1990 read more »

 Imago, Japan, Gunma
Imago edition 16.4 - 7.5.1991 read more »

 Imago, Bratislava, Slovakia
Edition Imago from 30.5 - 13.6.1991 read more »

 Imago, Budapest, Hungary
Imago edition from 12.8 - 8.9.1991 read more »

 Imago, Barcelona, Spain
Imago edition 9.10 - 15.12.1991 read more »

 Imago, Oporto, Portugal
Imago edition 7.2 - 29.2.1992 read more »

 Imago, Seville, Spain
Edition 20.4 - 11.5.1992 read more »

 Imago, Taipei, Taiwan
Edition 14.8 - 17.10.1993 read more »

[beginPage: Artists]

Ricardo Füglistahler
Ricardo Füglistahler was born in 1960 in Hengelo, The Netherlands, where he still works and lives. From 1979 to 1985, he studied at the Akademie voor Kunst en Industrie, Enschede. His works has been exhibited worldwide. The main themes in Füglistahler's work are religion and rite, myth and technology, life and death, yet his pieces do not seem to privilege either of the poles. The space in which his work is actually exhibited is an important element that contributes towards the understanding of its whole concept. Many of Füglistahler's installations take place in rooms decorated with a diversity of natural materials such as soil, leaves, bark, branches, in dark, usually brownish colours. By paying great attention on creating a sacral atmosphere he allows the viewer to become aware of his own finiteness as opposed to the infinity of the universe. Ricardo Füglistahler's starting point is that primitive cultures and their knowledge of nature are superior to modern societies which, due to their advanced technology, have lost all affinity with it.

Boris Gerrets
Boris Gerrets was born in 1948 in Amsterdam where he still lives and works. He spent most of his youth in Spain, West-Africa and Germany where he studied art history at the university of Bonn and painting and sculpture at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. His master degree earned him a travel grant which he used to take a trip to the US. Since 1979 he has been experimenting with various forms of interaction between the visual and performing arts. In 1983, together with Désirée Delauney, a French dancer and choreographer who also became his partner in life, he founded the Bilski Algemeen Foundation in Amsterdam. This organization served as a platform for their work either individually, or in collaboration with other artists and companies, notably with the American composer Jose-Luis Greco and dancer/choreographer Ron Bunzl with whom they worked under the collective name 'Cloud Chamber'. Most of Gerrets' artworks express their concern on the relation between time and space while the setting in which they take place is quite theatrical. In 1989 he received the choreography prize of the Amsterdam Art Foundation. Since then he has continued to exhibit works with his collective as well as individually.

Madelon Hooykaas & Elsa Stansfield
Madelon Hooykaas was born in 1942 in St. Maartensdijk, the Netherlands, and Elsa Stansfield (1945-2005) in Glasgow, Scotland. Since 1972, they have been working together under the name 'White Bird' and later under the name 'Hooykaas & Stansfield. They produced many video environments, in which they combined video with photography, objects and sound, and all this with a keen eye for the surroundings in which it all takes place. The combination of different media and materials enables them to introduce various levels of perception into their work. The works stay close to reality and human nature, in both the themes themselves and the treatment of these themes. Particularly in the early days of their collaboration, Hooykaas & Stansfield explored the specific character of the medium of video. Typical elements of the medium, such as time and movement, the electronic structure of the video image, the framing of the screen and the monitor as an object, are investigated and placed in connection with the environment. The viewer often becomes part of the situation, by being confronted with himself via a closed-circuit recording that is part of an installation, as for example, in 'Memory Windows' (1977). Hooykaas & Stansfield's way of working included making recordings on their travels, which were edited later, after a sort of 'incubation' period. An example of such a process is the redefinition of the video frame by means of a recording of a recording, as for instance in 'See Through Lines'. Although the technological possibilities of video remained an important theme for Hooykaas & Stansfield, their work was far from being rigid or analytical in nature. It usually consists of intuitively created, sensorial investigations with a certain poetic value.

Nol de Koning
Nol de Koning was born in 1944 in Amsterdam where he currently lives and works. Between 1967 and 1972 De Koning studied at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten. The following years after his graduation from the academy (1972 to 1980) he worked mainly as a printmaker. Koning began his career as an artist with mainly paintings that involved the seven circles of hell from Dante's 'Inferno', the region where those guilty of violence, dissipation, fanaticism and usury undergo their punishment. The themes of these paintings were to influence his later work starting with a cycle of video installations titled 'Terra Morale' in 1987. Along with painting Nol de Koning employs music, sound and contemporary television material in his work. The form and content of his installations as a whole are inspired by classical literature or mythology and frequently refer to landscapes and elements of nature. A series of abstract paintings for his video installation 'Bulicame' (1986), as well as the three monitor piece 'Palinuro' (1989) are probably the most notable prove of that, as both pieces contain ambient sounds accompanied by images of water deriving from a natural spring in the first case and the constant view of the ocean in the second. Nol de Koning believes that video as a medium enables him to visualize his themes both literally and allegorically in the best way possible.

Rene Reitzema
Rene Reitzema was born in 1959 in Hoogezand-Sappemeer, the Netherlands. He currently lives in Utrecht and works in Amsterdam. From 1980 untill 1985 he studied at the Akademie voor kunst en Industrie in Enschede. During 1984 Reitzema started working together with Wim Liebrand and Rob Dielman producing videoworks, film and various TV productions through SKET, 'The Foundation for Art and Gaining Time', which they founded. A year later SKET was disbanded, though Reitzema and Liebrand continued their collaboration. They performed together and also helped each other to produce individual videoworks. The themes of Reitzema's installations are often political, like 'De Weg' (1987), in which we see black and white shots of a man (Reitzema himself) digging a hole on a road after a repeated propaganda voice over on the background, while some others are inspired by mythology, like 'Pandora' (1985), the video installation in which Rene Reitzema encounters the surprising blows coming from Pandora's box.

Lydia Schouten
Lydia Schouten was born in 1948 in Leiden, the Netherlands, and moved to Rotterdam in 1971 where she still lives and works. Between 1967 and 1971 she studied in The Hague, at the Free Academy of Visual Arts, and continued her studies at the sculpture department of the Academy of Visual Arts in Rotterdam, from 1971 to 1978. For two subsequent years (1981 and 1982) she was awarded with the Maaskant Award of the city of Rotterdam, which included a grand that she used to cover her expenses during a working-period in New York. From 1978 onwards, Schouten's work can be divided into three periods: an exploration of performance art from 1978 to 1981; a period of work in video from 1981 to 1988; and since then, an ongoing interest in installation, often combining video, sound and photographic components. In all three periods certain thematic elements are apparent at Schouten's work. Femininity, isolation and the relation of mass media with sex and pornography are a few of the most frequent ones.

Bert Schutter
Bert Schutter was born in1945 in Assen, the Netherlands, and he currently lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium. Between 1965 and 1970 he studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Den Bosch. His first installations and exhibitions date back to 1978. In 1985 he became lecturer at the audiovisual department of the Academie Minerva in Groningen. Many of his artworks like 'Still Life / Still Alive' (1981) and 'Mill X Molen' (1982) are preoccupied with the concept of time and movement using characteristic Dutch elements such as tulips and windmills as a point of departure. Schutter's distorted view of objects and works of art can be seen in installations and works in which video and other disciplines from the field of visual arts are combined in an ingenious manner. Bert Schutter is regarded as one of the most multimedia oriented Dutch artists.

SERVAAS (1950-2001) was born in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, but lived and worked most of his life in Amsterdam. His first videoworks date back in 1980, and the first sculptural installations were developed only a couple of years later. His work is quite particular as it does not only include images and sound but also pneumatics. Another characteristic of Servaas' working method was his insistence to leave his videoworks unedited. The finished tape is a faithful reproduction, in duration and image, of the original action. For Servaas, the spontaneity of the moment, the directness of the unmanipulated, 'live' quality, contributes to the 'authenticity' of the end result. In that way the viewer becomes a witness to the construction, the climax and the sequence of events being exactly as they occurred during the recording. Servaas' work also includes elements of fantasy and irony in order to break through the information flow of commercial television. He forced an active involvement and provoked extreme reactions by deafening the viewer with ear-splitting noises, threatening him or by undermining the comfortable viewing position. All of the images were chosen because they provoked emotions in the artist. The visual acquires a physical, spatial form through the sound and pneumatics allowing the viewer to become part of the work. Servaas' position in the history of Dutch video art is unique. He did indeed use, like many of his colleagues, common elements from mass communication like film and television images, but, by adding a unique spatial component, his work gets a strong, personal note.

Jeffrey Shaw
Jeffrey Shaw was born in 1944 in Melbourne, Australia, and currently lives and works in Karlsruhe, Germany. He acquired his first degree in architecture and art history in the University of Melbourne, where he studied from 1962-1964. He then continued studying sculpture at Milan's Brera Academy and at St Martin's School of Art in London, where he stayed from1965-1966. Shaw has realized numerous installations that challenge conventional concepts of space. His early experiences with performance and multimedia experiments inspired him to do research about various concepts of virtual reality. Shaw has updated the strategies of immersion into virtual space (including anamorphosis, perspective, trompe l'oeil-effects and panoramic rotunda) by using new technologies. A central theme in his work is the relationship between reality and simulation, as well as imagination and experience. Apart from his international recognition as an artist, Jeffrey Shaw is also regarded as one of the key international researchers in the field of interactive digital cinema. He currently is a professor for Media Art at the University of Art and Media, Karlsruhe and the foundation Director for the Research Institute for Visual Media at ZKM, Centre for Art and Media Technology.

Bill Spinhoven
Bill Spinhoven was born in 1965 in Velsen, the Netherlands, and he currently lives and works in Hengelo. Spinhoven worked as a photographer from 1976-1979 and then studied at Technische Universteit Twente (1979-1982) and the Akademie voor Kunst en Industrie, Enschede (1982-87). Many of his installations are based on software development and examine the perception of time and space.

Roos Theuws
Roos Theuws was born in 1957 in Valkenswaard, the Netherlands, and she currently lives and works in Amsterdam. Between 1974 and 1979 she studied for becoming a teacher in Tilburg and from 1981 to 1983 continued her studies at Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht. Theuws began in the late 1980s using video, making abstract and minimal works which play with architectural space and the effect of light. Indeed, in many of her installations such as 'Anaklasis' (1989) and 'Forma Lucis VI' (1989) the element of light as a source of life play a vital role. She usually uses materials such as steel, glass, aluminum and zinc in order to create the desirable effect.

Giny Vos
Giny Vos was born in 1959 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and she currently lives and works in Amsterdam. From 1978 to 1988 she lived and studied in Delft and Amsterdam where she graduated from the Rietveld Academy (1988) in graphic design. Vos's preoccupation with space is obvious form her very early steps as a conceptual artist. During the 1990s she increasingly devoted her time to works commissioned for public spaces in projects like 'Work to Do' (Rotterdam, Marconiplein, 1985), 'Watch' (Schiendam, Stedelijk Museum1988), 'Castle for Mike' (New York, Manhattan, 1999), 'Lust for Life' (Leiden, 2000), 'Le Poem Electronique' (Amsterdam, 2001) and 'Spacesaver' (Utrecht, 2001). All of these installations communicate Vos's messages to the public by means of the space they occupy. Her dedication and active engagement in this particular field of art have gained her international recognition.

Peter Zegveld
Peter Zegveld was born in 1951 in The Hague, the Netherlands, where he studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts from 1975 -1979. He currently works and lives in Amsterdam. A few years after his graduation from the art academy, he started exhibiting his work in various galleries and museums within the Netherlands. Since 1984 Zegveld has expanded his artistic experimentations with projects which, among others, involved theater, performances and concerts. That same year he presented his first video installation. Zegveld describes his work as 'sound theater', using objects, sound and light to create theatrical moments. Furthermore, he is an active member of Caspar Rapak, a company making theater and video art. [endPage]

[beginPage: Artworks]

Ricardo Füglistahler, Panta Rhei

'Panta Rhei' is a sculpture which at first sight looks like a primitive alchemistic appliance for squeezing sap out of the clouds, a kind of distilling apparatus to be used for preparing secret elixirs from cumuli and, at the same time, a rain machine invented to render the rain dance permanently superfluous.

At second sight, it is a work of art which, as its theme reveals, is preoccupied with the natural cycle of water. On two small monitors, we see clouds glide by, very slowly. Under one of the monitors a dropper is fixed with under it, in turn, a block of granite, eroded at the spot where the drops fall. The cycle is clear: clouds make rain, raindrops make puddles, and water evaporates. It is not unlikely that Füglistahler has made 'Panta Rhei' to distance himself not only from the religious, ritual dimension of his earlier work, but also from the hysterical worship of nature. Stripped of any mysticism, this typical transitional work (to quote the artist himself) is purely dominated by the course of things, the cycle of water, the progress of time, the movement of the planets. (Based on: Maurice Nio, exhibition catalogue 'Imago' 1990.)

link to NIMk catalogue

Boris Gerrets, 'Pompeii'

'Pompeii' is an installation work including two monitors and two bronze masks. The essence of 'Pompeii' lies in the conflict between the video images and the masks and the way in which each deals with the Pompeii theme a city for which time has been standing still for centuries.

The video images (the paintings) show the freezing of time-space, the perpetuation of a catastrophic moment as an 'aesthetic' sensation. The masks, however, show the drama of the impenetrable, divine motives that led to the catastrophe. It will be clear why Pompeii, if only in the emblematical form of a mask, has so much in common with theater: both reflect something of the fate of mankind. In Gerrets' words: "To regard human life from its fatal destiny, that is the essence of the theater.' Which leads us to 'tragic' sensation. (Based on: Maurice Nio, exhibition catalogue 'Imago' 1990.)

link to NIMk catalogue

Madelon Hooykaas & Elsa Stansfield, Radiant, A Personal Observatory

Madelon Hooykaas' & Elsa Stansfield's installation is an 'observation post', open and outward looking, an observatory where one is welcome to cast an eye into space, to scrutinize a sighting. A satellite dish mounted on a tripod points upwards, set to receive; a monitor placed in the heart of the dish picks up incoming signals and immediately beams them out.

Atmospheric undulating images appear, seemingly from very far away, revealing only fragments of slowly moving figures in a misty, unfamiliar landscape. Snatches of text shoot pasts: 's' was the first letter telegraphed...Words beginning with an 's' are listed on the monitor. Despite the text there is no coherent narrative structure. The signals that 'Radiant' receives and transmits are apparently not decoded according to the given rules. The viewer has to search deep in his memory, finish the words himself; sign, source, sorus, sour, soul, show, s.o.s...'Radiant' functions as a super-sensitive 'receiver' with the capability of suspending time, of receiving sound frequencies and signals of past events and what is to come, of peering into prehistory and of practicing science fiction. 'Radiant' is a highly personal transmitter/receiver that can spark off a connection between a subconscious memory and an imperceptible signal. The resulting images may not be logical but they certainly are illuminating. (Based on: Jans Possel, exhibition catalogue 'Imago' 1990.)

link to NIMk catalogue

Nol de Koning, 'Palinuro'

In 'Palinuro', everything revolves around the nocturnal hour of fate before his fall into the sea, when Palinurus is keeping watch, contemplating his situation. Before him lie the shore and lighthouse, whose beam of light sweeping around we see on the middlemost of the three monitors.

The light that derives from the monitor illuminates a photograph of the sea on the wall facing the monitors. The lighthouse light is the main theme of the installation, throwing light not only upon the destination of the odyssey, as it were, but also upon Palinurus's fearful forebodings, upon the somnia tristia , the sad, ominous dreams, memories and obsessive thoughts spinning around his mind, the video images of which are combined with the lighthouse theme, the cross-cutting determining the rhythm of the alternating shots. The installation never presents Palinurus himself; only his desperate imaginative universe is made visible. In order not to reduce the representation of this universe to an illustrative sequence of images, Nol de Koning did not use the story itself as his main guideline, but instead applied the form principles of Virgil's 'Aeneid'. (Based on: Maurice Nio, exhibition catalogue 'Imago' 1990.)

link to NIMk catalogue

Rene Reitzema, 'The Fire'

Three monitors placed next to each other at the same height, embedded in a black wall, show images that sometimes seem to spring from one screen to another; with the spaces between the screens acting as intervals. These same images are returning again and again on a varying time scale. Animated bamboo sticks move up and down, with a harsh, almost aggressive sound, a ring of fire (a whirling, burning torch) shoots from a vertical to a horizontal position.

The viewer can read the images linearly (if he is very quick) from monitor to monitor, but they can also function autonomously, independently from each other. Image and sound are inextricably interwoven, and together they set the rhythm as the binding and driving force. In addition to the image-related sounds, there is also a piece of music specially composed for the installation. Given its installation-form, the measure of abstraction and stylization of the images, and because image and sound are not used solely for illustrative purposes, 'The Fire' is not a video clip - although the speed is sometimes there -, but a rhythmic and visual poem.

The concept of this installation work is not a romantic picture story of the tear-jerking variety. It eschews stark imagery in every context; there is no staging, no acting takes place. Structure and meaning are primarily determined by the consecution, repetition and mutual affinity of the images and the monitors. That is why also the form of the installation is so essential, in which one can see the images simultaneously next to each other, instead of one after another. Similarly, the sound, the rhythm is equally necessary as a link between the monitors. So, too, are the spaces -- the intervals -- between them, which intensify the musical and poetic eloquence of the images that appear on the monitors. (Based on: Jans Possel, exhibition catalogue 'Imago' 1990.)

link to NIMk catalogue

Lydia Schouten, 'A Virus of Sadness'
Inspired by her stay in New York during 1989 Lydia Schouten brought together her memories and impressions in her installation 'A Virus of Sadness'. Being sick and tired of the video art scene, Schouten bought a TV and started photographing the six o'clock news. The broadcasts reported on the murders of the day, and showed the forcible arrests and interviews with the murderer's families. The result of this were six portraits of murderers which decorate the walls of the installation room.

On the right-hand side of one of her photos a boy is pictured, whose face is terribly undistinguished. The blue of the background does not reveal anything, it just accentuates the chilly indefiniteness of his appearance. As the individual items on the photo hardly make us any wiser, the totality reveals a certain loneliness. The loneliness of the murderer. That of the victim. The loneliness of the photographer and that of the individual that cannot cope with the influencing forces of the media. This particular kind of loneliness is not only revealed by the portraits; it reoccurs in all elements of the installation: in the video-personal-ads to be found on the light green, transparent armchairs, in the ten tragicomic clown heads, in the small round screen prints of heads and eyes, in the ventriloquist's doll that opens its jacket every two minutes and shouts 'Please touch!', and of course in the room itself, that oppressive, turquoise room. In contrast with the earlier installations, in which the objects and props originate more or less from the video works, the video images projected on the floor in 'A Virus of Sadness' are only one of the many elements that give shape to the installation. Each element can be judged on its own merits, as each of them carries the virus of loneliness. And at the same time each element shows the symptoms of brute violence that can break loose at any moment in Lydia Schouten's turquoise murder room. (Based on: Maurice Nio, exhibition catalogue 'Imago' 1990.)

link to NIMk catalogue

Bert Schutter, 'Mill X Molen'

Twelve large monitors are mounted in the form of the four sails of a windmill at rest (three monitors per sail). The images on all twelve monitors are of windmill sails constantly turning round and round.

Every screen shows a one third section of a windmill sail so that each row depicts a complete sail. The accompanying sound is the forceful, air-slicing rhythmic swoosh of the rotating sails. At a single glance the viewer sees both stillness and movement encased in the monumental form of the mill. The monitors serve as image-bearers and as three dimensional objects that are consciously structured so as to form a sculpture. Yet the main emphasis lies in the movement that 'breaks out' from the monitors, as it were, and is accentuated by the swooshing sound of the sails... (Based on: Jans Possel, exhibition catalogue 'Imago' 1990.)

link to NIMk catalogue

Servaas, I Am Stuck Between The Millstones

Taking the Vincent van Gogh year 1990 as a starting point for his installation 'I Am Stuck Between The Millstones', Servaas speaks about a tacky little plastic sunflower which is on sale everywhere as commercial advertising material in Van Gogh's honour.

Behind the flower, which stands on a console covered with a musty cloth, three damaged old paintings are hanging. A few decisive slashes with a knife on them and the forgotten masterpieces become again the subject of animated discussion. In their new damaged form, these paintings can enjoy the prospect of great popular appeal. In this case damage is caused by the ravages of time, or can be deliberately applied by a crafty hand. On a metaphoric level, the market and media have their own adverse effect on works of art, using them as stakes in the game of supply and demand, and as hot item in a news column. It is this Van Gogh, tortured by life, mangled by time and exploited by unscrupulous investors, that Servaas reveals: Van Gogh vandalized. In that way, the installation is paradoxically an ode to Van Gogh. Servaas stands up for his colleague through all the ballyhoo and agitation to show just what he has landed in. Do leave the man alone! (Based on: Jans Possel, exhibition catalogue 'Imago' 1990.)

link to NIMk catalogue

Jeffrey Shaw, 'Revolution'

In memory of the Romanian television revolution and in honor of the modern trinity of revolution, television and food, Jeffrey Shaw has made a monument allowing the viewer to be physically confronted with three hundred years of political upheaval.

The interactive installation consists of a man-sized column with a monitor placed on top of it. The column is fitted with a handle. By pushing this handle, the viewer/activist can make the column turn. When he pushes it anti-clockwise, the monitor screen will show an image of millstones grinding corn into flour. When he push it clockwise, 180 'revolution images' will appear, based on iconographic material from the same period as the revolutionary event (by means of collage, colouring, distortion and drawing, the meaning of the original visual material is enhanced and renewed). Therefore, the installation is a kind of time machine which takes the activist back in time allowing him to survey the three hundred years of revolution. Since all of the 180 images are included in one rotation (so that each image is only visible over two degrees), the activist will have to turn the column very slowly to see the images one by one. When he turns it faster, he will see nothing but a vague and blurred mass of rebellious images. Consequently, without the viewer/activist nothing happens: no flour is ground, no revolution unchained. The viewer is an essential part of the installation. It is his task to set the images of the revolution in motion. He has to launch the revolution himself. Without him, the revolution has no meaning. The basic idea behind this interactive installation is that the television screen carries the germs of the revolution, and that the viewer's action is an action towards the medium, that is: towards the revolution. This installation is a monument for the present relation between media and revolution - even if the images refer to previous revolutions and even if the Romanian revolution, which inspired this piece, was short-lived (as everybody knows, after the formation of the Romanian National Rescuer Front, television became as repressive a medium as before). (Based on: Maurice Nio, exhibition catalogue 'Imago' 1990.)

link to NIMk catalogue

Bill Spinhoven, 'Albert's Ark'

'Albert's Ark' is a crossing between a large sundial made of stone and an ultra-modern, opened out 'video clock'. Because the colossus is opened-out and shows its intricate inner mechanism, it evokes the suggestion that the pseudo old-fashioned sundial is just as advanced inside as an atomic clock.

The monitor of the 'video clock', however, does not show the time, but the impact of space. The viewer walking around the installation will, at a certain point, see the distorted image of his body on the monitor. By trying out various movements, he will literally be able to wriggle into the strangest postures. He can turn his body into a spiral, he can stretch it out like a piece of elastic. Even the simplest movements have the effect that the ideal, coherent image of his body is disrupted. Whereas the flat screen normally presents us with the projection of a three dimensional body, Albert's Ark shows us the projection of a body with four dimensions. Due to this, the body can be observed at different times simultaneously and therefore it can spread out in space in this way. The live aspect of the installation is not only important because movement and distortion are related directly to each other, but also because the passing of time is only visible when there are 'signs of life', when a viewer ventures to come near the machine. In that way, the installation is a kind of vitality detector separating the animate from the inanimate, the alive from the dead. (Based on: Maurice Nio, exhibition catalogue 'Imago' 1990.)

link to NIMk catalogue

Roos Theuws, 'Forma Lucis VI'
The installation 'Forma Lucis' examines the working and meaning of light. Two monitors, one small and one larger, built into sculptural forms, are suspended at eye-level against the wall in a darkened room.

The monitors have been arranged so as to reflect each other. Pieces of glass have been placed in front of the monitors; in front of the small monitor and due to its reflections of light, a wide surface area is coloured purple. The videoworks, which last seven minutes, show abstract images of the coloured, electronic light of the screen itself. In the artist's own words: 'I try to let the monitor itself constitute the meaning of the work, so that the viewer can relate directly to it without reference to another world.' Just as the glass acts as a diffuser of the light, so the sculptural elements round the monitors are there to direct light and colour, to project and reflect. 'Forma Lucis VI' unfolds itself image for image and the mutually reflecting monitors present a constantly changing play of light and colour, whose experience is also dependent on where the viewer stands. (Based on: Jans Possel, exhibition catalogue 'Imago' 1990.)

link to NIMk catalogue

Giny Vos, 'Nature Morte'
A work whose meaning seems to be as clear as daylight at first sight will lose its clarity as soon as the viewer becomes involved in the ironical game of the various components. The longer one lingers over it, the more one loses track. This is what happens with 'Nature Morte'. In itself, the situation is clear. There is a zoo cage in the room, and in the cage there is a monitor showing the flank of a zebra in close-up. One can hear the heavy breathing of an animal. The stuffed zebra head is hanging outside the cage.

The first thing you notice is the association between the moving, almost abstract zebra stripes on the monitor, the vertical cage bars and the stripes on the zebra's head. This is clearly a game played between 'inside' and 'outside'. What is inside the cage is alive and breathing, what is outside the cage is dead and stuffed. The heavy breathing belongs to the zebra outside the cage, not the one behind the bars. So is it still alive? And by the way, is the animal on the screen really a zebra? One certainly never sees all of it. It could in fact be anything. And then, is it not ridiculous to speak of an animal in a cage, when it is actually a monitor in a cage? But what is the sense of putting a monitor behind the bars? Nothing about the installation can be really trusted. It makes one feel like a school teacher who knows that as soon as he turns his back on the class, the whole caboodle will secretly start fooling around. In this case, it seems like the zebra will play a dirty trick on the viewer as soon he looks away. (Based on: Maurice Nio, exhibition catalogue 'Imago' 1990.)

link to NIMk catalogue

Peter Zegveld, 'Venus Née, Praecox'
'Venus Née / Praecox' is not only the symbolic birth of Venus but also a 'Venus-machine', a polarized love-machine in which feminine and masculine essences react on each another (the ejaculation on the screen speaks volumes). A bucket of water filled to the brim, is placed on a stand; behind, on a plinth, a monitor with an image of a drum against a white background. The arrival of Venus is announced by a continually escalating resonance of sound, a vibration so shrill that it causes the water to become agitated, starting to swirl around and bubble over. Then on the screen we witness the inevitable eruption, after which all becomes calm again...

Venus rises from the waters. The entire installation appears to be based on a series of contradictions: the tangible presence of the bucket of water as opposed to the illusory image on the screen; the silence versus the din; a classical story presented in high-tech materials; a conceptual form of an emotional content. Apollo bridles Dionysus. An ingenious system of dualities curbs the chaos of the emotions. The resonant sound-track in 'Venus Née / Praecox' has a powerfully evocative effect and largely determines the level of visual tension, increasingly so since it actually sets the images in motion, animating matter to become life. (Based on: Jans Possel, exhibition catalogue 'Imago' 1990.)

link to NIMk catalogue



[beginPage: Catalogue]

The official catalogue for Imago: fin de siècle in dutch contemporary art was co-published by Mediamatic and Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst in 1990. This page provides access to the original versions available in Dutch and English as PDF documents.

Foreword - Robert de Haas
Introduction - René Coelho
Remarks on Progress - Paul Valéry
Art x technology - Volker Grassmuck
The artiste and his media - Adilkno
Mnemosyne's fin de siècle - Max Bruinsma
The artists - Maurice Nio/Jorinde Seydel
Artist's data

Voorwoord en inleiding - Robert de Haas & René Coelho
Over de vooruitgang - Paul Valéry
Kunst x technologie - Volker Grassmuck
De artiest en zijn media - Adilkno
Mnemosyne's fin de siècle - Max Bruinsma
De kunstenaars - Maurice Nio/Jorinde Seydel