Booth 05, Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam

Unseen Amsterdam 2018
Galerie Ron Mandos proudly presents work by Isaac Julien (UK, 1960), Sebastiaan Bremer (NL, 1970), Jan Hoek & Bobbin Case (NL, 1984 / UG, 1992), and Girma Berta (ET, 1990).

 Isaac Julien

Isaac Julien’s new photo collage series Radioactive (2018) has been inspired by his 2004 film Radioactive (Encore II).  Julien’s new collages stage a solitary heroine, an ‘avatar’ called Lilith Lyapo, who is performed by Vanessa Myrie in the film. These collages explore the Lilith’s “avatar” nature and human and mechanical origins, through solarized landscapes and textures. In these works, Julien wanted to move beyond the idea of merely producing photographs. His application of a mixture of metallic foils shifts the work beyond the photographic into a compelling terrain of hybrid materiality. The various cut-outs involve hand-cut digitally printed foils, which are used in advertising, on cars and robotics. These silver, gold, copper, blue and colorful elements create an unreal, dream-like effect. Through the collage technique and the use of these materials Julien is exploring and highlighting visual textures that mirror the diaphanous imagery and the solarisation and re-coloring processes that were also used in Julien’s Radioactive/Encore II (2004).

Both Julien’s Radioactive  (2018) photo-collages and the film Radioactive/Encore II (2004) are inspired by the gripping tale by the African-American science fiction writer Octavia Butler, Dawn (1987).

Each work from this series presents a different combination of colors, cut-outs and compositions, resulting in a distinctive exploration of materiality and create a rare aesthetic. Each work from this series is unique.

Julien has a long-term relationship with collages, as he initially created collage works during his final years as a student at Central Saint Martins in London. Some of Julien’s early collage works, The Other Look (1984), are currently on display as part of the Michael Jackson: On the Wall exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London (until 21st October, 2018) curated by Dr Nicholas Cullinan.

 Sebastiaan Bremer

Sebastiaan Bremer often uses pre-existing images to explore profound ideas about time, memory and processing. For his most recent work Bremer has delved into personal memories, registering thoughts and feelings in order to engage with universal concerns about family, the fragility of life, and time passing. Distinctions between the past and present along with old and new observations are blurred to create alternative narratives that are not entirely conclusive. Much like the nature of memory, his works evoke the way in which we often only half-remember certain moments and how our perceptions change over time.

 In the presented works Bremer has drawn directly onto the surface of personal photographs, covering the images with intricate patterns of dots. Bremer notes that ‘the mark making which I found as my mode of expression is truly mine. It is my way of putting myself with a mark into the picture, changing it, making my point of view visible inside the photographed reality.’ It is the transformative veil of the artist’s signature white dots that emotively and visually trace memories throughout his body of work.

 Jan Hoek & Bobbin Case

Jan Hoek created his recent series Boda Boda Madness (2018) in collaboration with Ugandan-Kenyan fashion designer Bobbin Case. The photos introduce the motor drivers Mad Max Driver, Machette, Vibze, Ghost Rider, Red Devil, Lion and The Rasta Driver, who proudly cruise through Nairobi wearing outstanding outfits on their matching bikes. These many motor taxis, known as Boda Boda, driving around Nairobi intrigued both Hoek and Case. Competition among the drivers incited some of them to create fascinating motorcycles in order to stand out from others and attract the attention of customers. However, Hoek and Case realised the bikers forgot their own looks when customising their rides. The artist and designer selected seven Boda Boda drivers with the most inspiring bikes to create brand new outfits with them. As a result the drivers’ imaginative characters are completed to enhance their visibility on the streets of Nairobi.

 Girma Berta

In his Moving Shadows series (2017), the emerging photographer Girma Berta juxtaposes solitary figures and sets them against a large field of a single colour, balancing on the verge of urban life photography and conceptualism. His photos exemplify the colourfulness and personalities of the streets of his hometown Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Berta works digitally in both the production and the presentation of his photos so that his images themselves comment on as well as participate in the digital art now being made by a younger generation of photographers in Africa. Berta represents the vibrancy of the millennial African.

ABOUT Isaac Julien

Filmmaker and installation artist, Isaac Julien CBE RA, was born in 1960 in London, where he currently lives and works. His multi-screen film installations and photographs incorporate different artistic disciplines to create a poetic and unique visual language. His 1989 documentary-drama exploring author Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance titled Looking for Langston garnered Julien a cult following while his 1991 debut feature Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Having recently worked on conserving and restoring Looking for Langston images from his extensive archive, he exhibited of photographic works at Victoria Miro Gallery, London (2017), Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco (2016) and Ron Mandos Gallery, Amsterdam (2016) with a screening of the film in its original 16mm print at Tate Britain.

Julien’s solo exhibitions and presentations include Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), Cape Town (2017); Platform-L Contemporary Art Centre, Seoul (2017); The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (2017); Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2016); MAC Niterói, Rio de Janeiro (2016); Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), Mexico City (2016); De Pont Museum, Netherlands (2015); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013); Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (2013); The Bass Museum, Miami (2010); Museum Brandhorst, Munich (2009); Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2005); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2005) and Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2005). His latest work, Stones Against Diamonds, was shown in 2015 as part of the Rolls-Royce Art Programme at the Venice Biennale, at Art Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach.

Julien participated in the Venice Biennale at the inaugural Diaspora Pavilion at the 57th edition in 2017 with Western Union: Small Boats. Previously, he presented Kapital and directed Das Kapital Oratorio in the 56th edition of the Venice Biennale, curated by Okwui Enwezor, in 2015. His work has also been exhibited in the 7th Gwangju Biennial, South Korea (2008); Prospect 1, New Orleans (2008); Performa 07, New York (2007) and in documenta 11, Kassel (2002).

Julien’s work is held in collections that include: Tate, London; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; the LUMA Foundation, Arles; the Kramlich Collection; the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art (Zeitz MOCAA), Cape Town. In 2016 the Towner Art Gallery Collection (Eastbourne, UK) acquired Ten Thousand Waves (2010) as part of a Moving Image Fund program. Ten Thousand Waves, a globally acclaimed multiple screen installation work, premiered at the 2010 Sydney Biennale and has gone on to be exhibited extensively - recently at Platform-L in Seoul (2017) and Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris (2016) as well as the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2013, with whom he also published a comprehensive monographic survey of his life and work, titled ‘Riot’.

Julien has taught extensively, holding posts such as Chair of Global Art at University of Arts London (2014-2016) and Professor of Media Art at Staatliche Hoscschule fur Gestaltung, Karlsruhe, Germany (2008 – 2016). He is the recipient of the James Robert Brudner ‘83 Memorial Prize and Lectures at Yale University (2016). Most recently he received the Charles Wollaston Award (2017), for most distinguished work at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and in 2018, he was made a Royal Academician. Julien was awarded the title Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s birthday honours, 2017.


ABOUT Jan Hoek

Jan Hoek (1984) is a writer as well. In addition to his own indepedant work as an artist, he writes for magazines and newspapers about his own work, the work of others, photography in general and subjects related to his own work.

Jan Hoek has photographed amateur models, mentally ill homeless people in Africa, a girl with no arms and legs, a heroin addict who dreams of being a model, or people he has simply found in advertisements on the internet. The photo shoot is never what he expected, model and photographer always have different expectations. The model actually wants sex while Jan Hoek wants to shoot the dog. The model tries to be as glamorous as possible, while Jan wants to picture the decay. Photographing is not just about the image but also the relationship between the photographer and the model. How far can you go with your models? In the accompanying film, Me & My Models, Jan talks about the nasty, funny, painful or touching things that happen around photographing people.

“I believe there is always a certain degree of ethics involved in photography. It is almost impossible to take photographs of people without consciously, or unconsciously, crossing boundaries and with things happening that you don’t want or expect. I feel this is often covered up in photography, while I would like to show it … ”


ABOUT Sebastiaan Bremer

Sebastiaan Bremer is renowned for transforming ordinary snapshots into grandly baroque and surreal tableaux by a careful process of retouching and enlargement. Since his first solo show, in 1994, he has exhibited in venues such as the Tate Gallery, London, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, and the Aldrich Museum, Connecticut. He has been based in the United States since 1992.

Although Bremer has always been interested in photography, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that he began to draw directly on the surface of photographs. He has been inspired in part by nineteenth century spirit photography, and fin de siècle Symbolists such as the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and painter Odilon Redon, but his methods partake of advanced photographic techniques. Often he will begin with a simple snapshot of friends or family or familiar places, and after enlarging it far beyond conventional dimensions, he will begin altering and embellishing the image with India ink and photographic dye.

He has often used the ink to produce fine patterns of lines reminiscent of cobwebs, or readings from seismographs. Photographic dyes also enable him to blur and mute some forms while accentuating others, and make some colors bloom while others recede into mysterious darkness. The result is an image that seems to literally vibrate with hidden consequence, as if the subject matter has sent cracks across the surface of the picture. Whilst Bremer’s choice of images inevitably grounds his work in his own biography, his imagery also makes reference to alchemy, art, and the occult, establishing unexpected connections between ordinary life, history, and the unconscious.

Sebastiaan Bremer lives and works in New York. He studied at the Vrije Academie, The Hague, and Skowhegan School of Art and Sculpture, Maine. He has published two major catalogs: Monkey Brain (2003), and Avila (2006). His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.