arnoud holleman - being there
14 Sep - 26 Oct 2003

Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam opens the new season with Holleman's first solo exhibition in the Netherlands.

The activities of the multi-talented Holleman (1964, Haarlem) are difficult to pigeonhole. Over the last decade he has moved back and forth between individual expression and collective work processes. He has alternated the intimacy of the studio with the worlds of television, theatre and print. Holleman makes drawings, videos, paintings and embroidery.

With Lernert Engelberts he wrote the script forDriving Miss Palmen, a Bollywood-style soap about the Dutch art world and literary circles that was produced in India. With Arjan Ederveen he made the series Televisie and has performed in productions by the theatre company Mugmetdegoudentand (Mosquitowiththegoldentooth). Since 2000 with Jop van Bennekom he has co-edited the meta-magazine Re-Magazine, the Trojan horse among the glossies and lifestyle magazines.

High time, then, for a solo show. At SMBA Holleman will articulate his multifaceted artistic practice within a 'traditional' exhibition space. Holleman's work is marked by a sharp sense of ambivalence and numerous hidden layers. Underlying all is an exploration of the workings and legitimatization of the image in commercial visual culture. In particular, the question of what role is left for art and how an authentic experience may still be communicated through an image is central to his work. Holleman's obvious pleasure at constantly undermining artistic codes and clichés means that this critical layer is at times overlooked.

The work that best sums up the rest in the exhibitionBeing There could be Holleman's new 16mm film piece Loop (2003), in which a small aircraft circles continually above the Dutch landscape trailing a banner bearing the words 'I am flying'. Referring to the idiom of conceptual art, this film expresses an obdurate kind of disengagement.

Another work in the show is the video Museum (1998), which was also shown at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam in the exhibition From the Corner of the Eye (1998). Here Holleman has removed all the sex scenes from the gay porn film Musee Hom by the quality pornographer J.D. Cadinot. What remains is a detached game of glances between a number of attractive young men in the classical antiquities gallery of a museum. Under the all-seeing eyes of the security guard, the men gaze at the marble beauties of ancient Greece and Rome, and at the other male visitors. With the removal of the act, Museum now presents a room full of hungry gazes that are never consummated, but which remain suspended, somewhat aimlessly, in midair.

The starting point for the video projection Untitled 2003 are black-and-white, documentary film images of the Dutch village of Staphorst in the 1950s. Holleman has selected and isolated a number of fragments which he has partially slowed down and presents without sound. In short street scenes we see Staphorst women and children in traditional costume running away from the film camera: they duck, cover their faces and do all they can to vanish from the image. Their response to the camera contrasts starkly with the way in which in 2003 people allow the media access to the most intimate details of their lives.

Besides a series of videos and a computer programme, which randomly mixes artists' names, the exhibition also includes a sound piece and the special publication Sperm Drawings, designed by Jop van Bennekom.

The SMBA Newsletter has texts by Alexis Vaillant (Paris) and Jorinde Seijdel (Amsterdam) and contains a contribution by the artist I Shot Madonna(full-colour print).

The exhibition is co-funded by the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture.