Part of the
exhibition

In the Presence of Absence proposals for the museum collection

5 Sep 2020 until 31 Jan 2021

Artist Page — 2 Sep 2020

In the Presence of Absence, the bi-annual show of proposals for the museum collection, presents 23 artists (collectives). This artist page includes a text on the work and an artist contribution.

Tampan Ship of Souls #2 (2020) and Tampan the Collected Bodies (2020) are tulip petal collages whose patterned arrangements reference Indonesian tampan and palepai textile from the Lampung region of South Sumatra. The designs often featured ship motifs, which led to them being known as “ship cloths.” Human figures, animals, and objects can be seen on board the ships, and the mast branches out to form a tree of life, which is surrounded by ornaments. The ships themselves are associated with the idea of life being a spiritual journey. These cloths were said to connect the material and spiritual worlds during ceremonies and rites of passage. 

In her collages Jennifer Tee brings together the tulip, which is regarded as a Dutch icon, with her own family history and Chinese Indonesian background, in which ships play a central role. Tee’s father went by ship to the Netherlands in the 1950s, for example, and her grandfather, an exporter of tulip bulbs, would regularly sail to the United States. In multiple ways, the ship symbolizes a state of transition, or being “on the way” to something. Contemporary issues surrounding migration that involves people making risky sea crossings add another layer of meaning to the ship motif. Tee often uses historically charged cultural artifacts and symbols in her work, connecting Western and Eastern influences with art history. 

Illustration by Haitham Haddad after Jennifer Tee’s “Tampan Ship of Souls #2” and “Tampan the Collected Bodies,” both 2020.
Illustration by Haitham Haddad after Jennifer Tee’s “Tampan Ship of Souls #2” and “Tampan the Collected Bodies,” both 2020.

Tee made Tampan Ship of Souls #2 and Tampan the Collected Bodies especially for the In the Presence of Absence exhibition. The exposure of the tulip petals to light and other influences for the duration of the exhibition will cause them to gradually lose their vibrancy. The work has been scanned to capture and “conserve” the original color of the petals.

Jennifer Tee (b. 1973) works with sculpture as installation, collage, and performance. She studied at the St. Joost Academy of Art and Design in Breda, and at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam. From 2000 to 2001, Tee attended the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. Her work has been exhibited at Camden Arts Centre in London, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and Kunsthal Charlottenborg in Copenhagen. Tee has won several awards, including the 2020 Amsterdam Prize for the Arts in the category “proven quality.”

Jennifer Tee, “Tampan Natural System of Souls,” 2019, tulip petal collage print on 316 grams museum etching paper, 186 x 165 cm. Courtesy Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam.
Jennifer Tee, “Tampan Natural System of Souls,” 2019, tulip petal collage print on 316 grams museum etching paper, 186 x 165 cm. Courtesy Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam.

Artist Contribution

Unity in Diversity – Bhinneka Tunggal Ika

Since the beginning of time humanity has always created and shared stories. These help to spread knowledge about social norms, behaviour and cooperation. Without stories, a society would not be able to function. That is why we want to make sure everyone knows them. They relate the guidelines of a society—a collective consciousness. At a time in which we become more distant from each other, in which divisions and insecurities in society are growing, we seem to be looking for our personal connection with the collective. But what if someone’s story does not fit within the guidelines, should this person adapt it so that it does? Or should the ideals of the collective change to create more space for new and diverse stories?
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