Exhibition — 5 Sep 2020 until 31 Jan 2021

In the Presence of Absence shows a selection of artworks and design projects that challenge the idea of collective knowledge and public consciousness through stories that remain unseen, have been ignored or may be told more often within large public institutions.

Spanning more than 14 rooms and work by 23 artists and artist collectives, the interdisciplinary exhibition In the Presence of Absence presents a selection of (counter) narratives that challenge fixed ideas about our society and question how history is written. When not addressed by organizations such as schools, libraries, archives, and museums, the absence of these stories forms knowledge gaps within the public debates that shape our collective consciousness and memory.

The selected projects include personal, intimate subjects as well as large socio-historical topics. Handwritten letters, for example, address an intangible concept such as elegance in an installation by Evelyn Taocheng Wang. Topics including migration, transition and memory are brought to our attention in the drawings by Sadik Kwaish Alfraji, among others. Also included in the exhibition are archive materials, script, imagery and spoken word as forms to bring stories and histories to the fore. For example, on the basis of archival material concerning Srebrenica released to her, Anna Dasović critically re-examines the way the Royal Netherlands Army trained soldiers via roleplay to perform an image of themselves and respond to “the other”, whereas Natasja Kensmil’s painting installation adapts the classic archetype image of a prominent marriage in the 17th century into a contemporary critical portrait about power relations and wealth.

The title of the exhibition is inspired by the title of the last book written by the poet Mahmoud Darwish. In the context of this exhibition, “the presence of absence" emphasizes how stories function and resonate within a society.

  • Kasper Bosmans, Legend Vair: Hercule + St. Ontcommer, 2016, courtesy the artist.
    Kasper Bosmans, Legend Vair: Hercule + St. Ontcommer, 2016, courtesy the artist.
  • Our Polite Society, FACIT Data, product catalog, 1971. FACIT AB archive, reproduced with the kind permission of Brukskultur Åtvidaberg.
    Our Polite Society, FACIT Data, product catalog, 1971. FACIT AB archive, reproduced with the kind permission of Brukskultur Åtvidaberg.
  • Pieter Paul Pothoven. Map 1814, negative no. 20. (RARA-suspect on Trial, Amsterdam, 1988. Photo Bert Verhoeff)
    Pieter Paul Pothoven. Map 1814, negative no. 20. (RARA-suspect on Trial, Amsterdam, 1988. Photo Bert Verhoeff)
  • 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
  • In the Presence of Absence. Ahmet Öğüt, Bakunin’s Barricade, 2015–2020. With works from Else Berg, Timo Demollin, Marlene Dumas, Pieter Engels, Nan Goldin, Käthe Kollwitz, Jan Th. Kruseman, Kazimir Malevich and PINK de Thierry. Photo Peter Tijhuis.
    In the Presence of Absence. Ahmet Öğüt, Bakunin’s Barricade, 2015–2020. With works from Else Berg, Timo Demollin, Marlene Dumas, Pieter Engels, Nan Goldin, Käthe Kollwitz, Jan Th. Kruseman, Kazimir Malevich and PINK de Thierry. Photo Peter Tijhuis.
  • Installation view In the Presence of Absence. Proposals for the museum collection. Jennifer Tee, Tampan the Collected Bodies and Tampan Ship of Souls #2, 2020. Photo Peter Tijhuis.
    Installation view In the Presence of Absence. Proposals for the museum collection. Jennifer Tee, Tampan the Collected Bodies and Tampan Ship of Souls #2, 2020. Photo Peter Tijhuis.
  • Installation view In the Presence of Absence. Proposals for the museum collection. Natasja Kensmil, WEDDING PORTRAIT of Johan de Witt and Wendela Bicker, 2020. Photo Peter Tijhuis.
    Installation view In the Presence of Absence. Proposals for the museum collection. Natasja Kensmil, WEDDING PORTRAIT of Johan de Witt and Wendela Bicker, 2020. Photo Peter Tijhuis.
  • Installation view In the Presence of Absence. Proposals for the museum collection. DOMINIQUE, Sama Ite Wele Telu, 2020. Photo Peter Tijhuis.
    Installation view In the Presence of Absence. Proposals for the museum collection. DOMINIQUE, Sama Ite Wele Telu, 2020. Photo Peter Tijhuis.
  • Installation view In the Presence of Absence. Proposals for the museum collection. Ghita Skali, Ali Baba Express: Episode 2, 2020. Photo Peter Tijhuis.
    Installation view In the Presence of Absence. Proposals for the museum collection. Ghita Skali, Ali Baba Express: Episode 2, 2020. Photo Peter Tijhuis.
  • Installation view In the Presence of Absence. Proposals for the museum collection. Gilleam Trapenberg, This surely must be paradise, 2020. Photo Peter Tijhuis.
    Installation view In the Presence of Absence. Proposals for the museum collection. Gilleam Trapenberg, This surely must be paradise, 2020. Photo Peter Tijhuis.
  • Installation view In the Presence of Absence. Proposals for the museum collection. Leonardiansyah Allenda, Chapter 6: Marni, 2020. Photo Peter Tijhuis.
    Installation view In the Presence of Absence. Proposals for the museum collection. Leonardiansyah Allenda, Chapter 6: Marni, 2020. Photo Peter Tijhuis.
  • Installation view In the Presence of Absence. Proposals for the museum collection. Remy Jungerman, PROMISE IV, 2018–2019 (left) and Sadik Kwaish Alfraji, Sing like the Southerners Do, 2019 (right). Photo Peter Tijhuis.
    Installation view In the Presence of Absence. Proposals for the museum collection. Remy Jungerman, PROMISE IV, 2018–2019 (left) and Sadik Kwaish Alfraji, Sing like the Southerners Do, 2019 (right). Photo Peter Tijhuis.
  • Sadik Kwaish Alfraji, Sing like the Southerners Do, 2019, sound-drawing installation. Courtesy the artist.
    Sadik Kwaish Alfraji, Sing like the Southerners Do, 2019, sound-drawing installation. Courtesy the artist.
  • Anna Dasović, Before the Fall there was no Fall. Episode one; Raw material, 2019, still.
    Anna Dasović, Before the Fall there was no Fall. Episode one; Raw material, 2019, still.
  • Farida Sedoc, The Future Ain't What It Used To Be, 2019, collage on paper, 400 cm x 300 cm, screen prints on cotton (each 100 cm x 150 cm, Gentleman’s Agreement, Welcome To Society, The Sun Rises In The East). Photo Tom Janssen.
    Farida Sedoc, The Future Ain't What It Used To Be, 2019, collage on paper, 400 cm x 300 cm, screen prints on cotton (each 100 cm x 150 cm, Gentleman’s Agreement, Welcome To Society, The Sun Rises In The East). Photo Tom Janssen.

The selected artists for In the Presence of Absence are

Sadik Kwaish Alfraji / Leonardiansyah Allenda / Kristina Benjocki / Kasper Bosmans / Rowena Buur / Anna Dasović / Timo Demollin / Quinsy Gario in collaboration with Mina Ouaouirst / Inas Halabi / Remy Jungerman / Natasja Kensmil / Sarah van Lamsweerde in collaboration with Leroy de Böck and Alicia Hoost / DOMINIQUE (Dominique Latoel) / Wendelien van Oldenborgh / Ahmet Öğüt / Our Polite Society / Pieter Paul Pothoven / Farida Sedoc / Ghita Skali / Evelyn Taocheng Wang / Jennifer Tee / Gilleam Trapenberg / Werker Collective

The exhibition In the Presence of Absence is part of the project "Proposals for Municipal Art Acquisitions", which takes place every two years and invites artists or designers living and working in the Netherlands to respond to an open call, followed by a jury selection and a group exhibition. Part of the work shown is purchased for the museum collection. Unlike other editions, this year's open call was open to all disciplines.

Performance and Time-Based

Sarah van Lamsweerde, in collaboration with Alicia Hoost and Leroy de Böck, has developed a performance disguised as a tour through the exhibition. It takes place every other Saturday at 11 am (Dutch) and 2 pm (English)

Pieter Paul Pothoven developed an installation with a spoken monologue. The monologue is broadcast every hour on FM 100.0 and can be heard in the museum at 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, 4 pm, and 5 pm.

Online conversations and discussions

3 sessions in November (dates to be announced).

Publication

The exhibition will be accompanied by an online publication containing more information about the artists and their works. Contributing essays will address the overarching theme of knowledge production within the art world: how do we know what we know?

Curators

Britte Sloothaak & Fadwa Naamna

Jury

Britte Sloothaak & Fadwa Naamna (on behalf of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam), Cédric Fauq (curator and writer, Palais de Tokyo), Monika Szewczyk (director De Appel, Amsterdam), Prem Krishnamurthy (designer, curator, writer, Wrkshps and (co-) artistic director FRONT International 2021) and Zippora Elders (artistic director Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen and co-curator sonsbeek21-24)

The Proposals for Municipal Art Acquisitions is a series of biannual exhibitions organized with the financial support of the Municipality of Amsterdam.

Scenography

Müller Van Tol ( Bas van Tol / Malte Hailer)

Worry-free museum visit

Would you like to visit In the Presence of Absence? Follow the routes that have been marked out in the museum. The galleries are large enough for you to move about freely. Please stay 6 feet away from other visitors in the exhibition spaces and follow the instructions of museum staff and volunteers when given

Prepare your visit and read the info below.

6 feet Museumprotocol