Starting at the 4th of July until the 1st of September this year, Wouter Venema and Jessie Yingying Gong will show their work at Galerie Joghem at Sanquin. The exposition is organised by a collaboration between AGA LAB and Sanquin and will open its doors on Friday the 7th at 5pm by Kristien van den Oever, director at AGA LAB. Visiting hours are every day from 8.30am till 4.30pm.
In 1959, Joghem van Loghem (scientific director from 1950 to 1978) started collecting art. At the time, Director Van Loghem believed sacredly in creative xenogamy between art and science, provided at a high level. Art in a laboratory should be inspiring.
Over the years, Van Loghem’s work has been taken over by De Kunstcommissie, which was founded in 1985. De Kunstcommissie organises six expositions a year, all suited in the gallery named after Van Loghem; ‘Galerie Joghem’. Galerie Joghem does not acquire profit and the artist doesn’t have to convey a percentage of their proceeds. Thus, Sanquin provides a platform to young, talented artists to show their work and to acquire name recognition.
“When a friend of mine had to leave his house, he left his iguana Roca with me. It was a small creature, characteristic in his movements. Its’ skin changing colours like a flowing oil spill. When the sun hit its scales, shades of green and light purple quickly interchanged. After I found a suitable terrarium for Roca, we lived side by side. We got used to each other, and Roca even listened to me calling his name. He would walk over my arm like an ant and grew bigger, quirkier and always returned to the warmest spot in his cage.
One night, after I came home from buying four old atlases from a shabby woman, a banal Bosatlas, an atlas of the Arabic world, one with ‘Europe and the other continents’ as the title and a school atlas ‘Ons Eigen Land, eenvoudige atlas van Nederland’, meaning ‘Our Own Country, a simple atlas of the Netherlands’. In the lack of a better place to put the atlases, I had stored them on top of Roca’s cage. I reheated my dinner, drank a glass or two and went to bed.
The next morning, I found Roca in his cage, dead. He had managed to drag the atlases into his cage and ate the pages. The green animal was just laying there, like a rocky landscape, in between the ripped pages. I took the animal in my hands and tried to control my emotions. With a red hot feeling of guilt, I took the car to the vet and left him there. On my way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the big wad of paper in its stomach, and what it must’ve looked like.”
Using different kinds of media, Wouter Venema (born in Groningen, 1985) makes layered work that requires a monolithic, unilateral view on the world. For this presentation, the base consists of a short story. Each work in the exposition is a reaction to that story and will come back to the torn atlas.
Portolan is a single piece of work out of a series of screenprints, contemplating old navigation techniques. The Portolan is a hand-drawn sea map originating from the 13th century. The lines are printed over coloured panels made from torn paper and are reminiscing to a map.
The piece Poacher’s Atlas was created by engraving a drawing of the iguana skin into paper pulp made out of a Bosatlas. This technique results in a relief that makes the structure think of poached skin or dried earth. Atlases are a collection of topographic information, but could also be considered a cultural snapshot. The fictional creator of this atlas could be seen as a poacher, he stripped all countries, embezzled information and let it all dry out.
Nachtatlas (Night Atlas) has been created by ripping new and old works to pieces and to combine them into a publication. The theme of rupture continues to come back in all images: shedding skin, lizard feet, a chameleon, a map made by Sykes and Picot, clothing, a goat’s skin on the ground, a knife, a man with a hole in his torso, a hand holding a scalp, and a desert landscape full of lines, like a skin with scars. By ripping out the pages of the book, one image can be created. The book is bound using scrapbook glue, so tearing out the pages is fairly easy.
Jessie Yingying Gong
Jessie Yingying Gong (1990) is a Chinese visual artist and photographer, whose works research and reflect on personal and collective memory, cultural identity, symbols, and language. In this presentation, three separate yet connected works are on display. In a formal sense, the focus here is on distortion and fragmentation, but the
lynchpin connecting these is a sense of loss.
Moonflowers, one by one, the wind, rustles them was originally a publication commemorating my grandfather who passed away in 2016. One of the last photographs I took of him was made into a paper lithograph; the image was then splintered and fragmented into all its details on the pages of the book. All I can access at the time are vague outlines and details, just like memory after grief.
Now some time has passed and I attempt to put the picture together again. I tear the book apart in search of that wholeness, knowing it’s impossible to recreate, but finding a new state of remembrance through this action of placing those fragments together. It’s futile as an attempt to return to the original image, but it is an evocation of memory and a testimony to restoring recognition.
Recovery in Process is a series of images that originated from a hard drive crash. Losing the documentation of a memory can be equal to losing that memory and that can be equal to losing that moment. The failure to recover the images, signals time that slipped through the cracks and is forever lost. Yet the corrupted files themselves, became these colourful and saturated abstract digital landscapes, symbols of that loss, but strangely also celebrations of it.
After all, form lost in abstraction has a terrible beauty that fascinates us.
Staying with that concept, the last work presented is a triptych of photographs – in fact, a single photograph – in three phases in time as it undergoes a process of erasure.
18:53 23-01-2011 is an investigation into a once-lost photograph. The photograph undergoes a bath of diluted bleach. The moment loses details little by little, mimicking a memory’s oblivion. Yet, before it dissolves,
the colour of burning red, transient orange, and fading yellow emerges in the grainy black & white photograph.
The present moment of recollecting a once vivid memory is filled with emotions, sentiments, blurs, alterations, and disappearance.
What connects these works for me, besides the obvious formal elements and the concept of dissipation and erosion that all three works sprang from, is the surprising fact that while exploring the mechanisms of decay and disintegration so much of value and beauty can be retrieved and revealed in a different form, and new or hidden elements discovered and brought to the surface.