News — 19 Feb 2014

Amsterdam, February 19, 2014 The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam presents a selection of works by Paulien Oltheten (Nijmegen, 1982) and Anouk Kruithof (Dordrecht, 1981), opening on March 14, 2014. The work of these young Dutch artists takes a fresh and unexpected look at photographic techniques. Oltheten and Kruithof have many things in common; they both studied at the St. Joost Academy and participated in the ISCP residency program in New York. Both artists are fascinated by human behavior. In Oltheten’s work, this is reflected in observations of people on the street going about their day-to-day business, whereas Kruithof’s work often centers around the uncomfortable physical or mental states of people. This is the first museum presentation to bring the work of these contemporaries together.

Paulien Oltheten: Drawing Lines of Thought

Paulien Oltheten makes photographs and short films, occasionally accompanied by written or drawn commentaries. Much of her work explores the behavior of people on the street. Oltheten observes how they stand, wait about, linger, lean, support themselves, and push and pull in the world around them. In a personal and often humorous way, Oltheten captures the unconscious patterns of passersby in public space. Occasionally, the artist intervenes, asking her “models” to repeat a gesture for the camera, creating an ongoing dialogue between the registration of chance acts she observes on the street and minor interventions she introduces.

The presentation features the installation Drawing Lines of Thought (2010) and the video Man and Dog (2002), which belong to the collection of the Stedelijk Museum, alongside her latest work, A Moment of Slowing Down (part 1), New York (2013), which emerged from her recent residency in New York. Drawing Lines of Thought is divided into two lines. The upper line consists of a visual narrative with photographs taken by Oltheten in Japan, sometimes supplemented by brief notes and comments offering an explanation of the images. In the lower line, she responds with material from her personal archive – sketches, images, and texts that she considers closely related to the Japan photos. Both lines are obviously connected, but now and then Oltheten misleads the viewer by hanging images and texts with no connection to the surrounding photos. The video Man and Dog explores the interaction between a man and a dog. Like partners in a dance, one guides the other in a pas de deux. In her latest work, A Moment of Slowing Down, which comprises a video, photos, and correspondence, Oltheten exchanges the streets of Japan for those of New York. Unlike previous works, where she always maintained a certain distance from the people she photographed, this is the first work in which she establishes personal contact with her subjects.

Anouk Kruithof: Within Interpretations of a Wall

The work of Anouk Kruithof – photos, installations, sculptures, and artist books – is often derived from social interventions in the public space. She uses the camera as a strategic tool for making contact with the outside world. The photos then form the basis of her final works, in which the artist frequently includes everyday or industrial construction materials such as sponge or insulation material. With this, Kruithof explores and challenges the boundaries of photography as a medium.

In the presentation entitled Within Interpretations of a Wall, Kruithof shows a number of new photographic sculptures she made especially for this exhibition, alongside recent works. She is particularly fascinated by the “wall,” which functions both as an architectural element, and as a poetic delineation and metaphoric boundary within the human psyche. In Driving Hazy, Push-up (2013) and Façade (2014), Kruithof uses irony and shifting perspectives to shed light on the psycho-social state of contemporary New York. Using an unorthodox visual language, she depicts the pressure of work, the drive to perform, stress, anxiety, power dynamics, and the fine line between success and failure. For the installation Push-up, Kruithof asked business people to perform as many push-ups  as they could at the entrance of large corporations. She continued until security guards told her to leave for liability reasons. In Off the Wall (2014), the walls of various wards of the Altrecht psychiatric institution in Den Dolder (where Kruithof was artist-in-residence at “The Fifth Season” in 2011) form a colorful index. In this new work, Kruithof asks where, precisely, is the borderline between “healthy” and “mentally ill.”

The exhibition is compiled by Hripsimé Visser, curator of photography at the Stedelijk, in close association with trainee curator Masha van Vliet and both artists.

The exhibition Paulien Oltheten and Anouk Kruithof is made possible by Outset.

Note for the editor:
For more information and images, please contact the Press Office of the Stedelijk Museum, +31 (0)20 573 26 56 or

Press images Paulien Oltheten and Anouk Kruithof