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.

The documentary film Without hope I have no dreams (2020) immerses the viewer in the deeply felt and confrontational process through which two members of a family try to come to terms with their past. The film shows Rowena Buur visiting their father Renee, who lives on a campsite. Renee has been struggling with alcohol addiction, and there has been no contact between the two of them for many years. The artist films Renee in and around his caravan as they talk, smoke, eat snacks, talk some more, take the dog for a walk, and reminisce while looking at childhood photos and videos. Buur wonders whether it’s possible for them to leave their past behind them and build new memories together. The viewer is the witness as Buur and Renee attempt to build a new relationship.

Buur doesn’t shy away from the personal realm in their artistic work, as demonstrated by both Without hope I have no dreams and their 2019 video work When Did You Become a Heterosexual?, in which the artist engages with normative ideas about sexuality and gender by asking passersby questions such as: Are you heterosexual, and if so, when did you find out? How did your family react when they found out you were heterosexual? Did you tell them?

Illustration by Haitham Haddad after Rowena Buurs’ “Without hope I have no dreams,” 2019.
Illustration by Haitham Haddad after Rowena Buurs’ “Without hope I have no dreams,” 2019.

These types of questions are rarely put to someone who identifies as heterosexual, but will be familiar to anyone with a non-heterosexual identity. The surprised reactions of the interviewees underline the normative attitudes within contemporary society.

Rowena Buur (b. 1990) studied graphic design at Utrecht University of the Arts and continued their education with postgraduate studies at the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam. Buur’s work has been exhibited at Albert van Abbehuis in Eindhoven, the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Lisbon, and Melkweg in Amsterdam. The documentary Without hope I have no dreams will be broadcast as part of the Makers van morgen series on 2Doc.nl.

Rowena Buur, “Without hope I have no dreams,” 2019. Courtesy the artist.
Rowena Buur, “Without hope I have no dreams,” 2019. Courtesy the artist.

Artist Contribution