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.
Promise IV (2018–2019) was inspired by shrines built by the Surinamese Maroons, a community of people of African descent who escaped enslavement in the former Dutch colony to settle in inland Suriname in the 18th century. In Promise IV, Remy Jungerman connects a variety of visual languages and influences that have relevance for him, incorporating the culture and traditions of his Surinamese Maroon ancestors as well as 20th-Century Modernism.
Constructed out of wood, textile, threads, and nails, Promise IV also features a less easily identifiable material: kaolin. This white clay is used in Winti religious practices as a purification agent. The act of using this clay to coat religious objects or one’s own body brings worshippers closer to their ancestors, so they can ask them for help or advice. Jungerman derives the characteristic lattice and other graphic patterns from fabrics used for Winti religious practices, but his work also references De Stijl, for example in his use of color. Rather than taking Western art history as his sole departure point, Jungerman’s work reflects the multiplicity of traditions in which specific customs, visual elements, and patterns occur.
In homage to the conceptual artist stanley brouwn (1935–2017), who referenced his own private system of measurement in his work—a system derived from his own body and including units such as the “sb foot,” “sb ell,” and “sb step,”—in the nearly five-meter tall Promise IV, Jungerman utilizes brouwn’s units of measurement and adds two of his own (R = ½ Ell and J= ½ Step).
Remy Jungerman (b. 1959) studied at the Academy for Arts and Cultural Education in Paramaribo, Suriname, and at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. He is a co-founder of the Wakaman Project, Drawing Lines – Connecting Dots, which seeks to advance the position of Surinamese artists internationally. His work has been exhibited at Brooklyn Museum in New York and Kunstmuseum Den Haag in The Hague, and at the Havana Biennial, Cuba. In 2019, Jungerman’s work was part of the Dutch submission to the 58th Venice Biennale.