ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

Remy Jungerman’s solo exhibition Behind the Forest opens on Saturday 20 November at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The museum will present a survey of works with a focus on Jungerman’s artistic output of the past fifteen years, including new work created specifically for the exhibition. In his sculptures, paintings, installations, collages and screen prints, the artist traces pathways of pattern and imagery from Maroon culture in Suriname, the African diaspora and 20th-Century modernism.

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Remy Jungerman (1959) was born in Moengo, Suriname. He attended the Academy for Higher Art and Culture Education in Paramaribo and moved to Amsterdam in 1990 to complete his training at the Rietveld Academy. Jungerman’s mother was of African heritage, his father of European descent. In 2005, his father died and Jungerman returned to Suriname for the funeral. While there, he also visited his mother’s family altar and took part in ancestral worship rituals. Jungerman’s mother is a descendant of the Bakabusi (the people behind the forest) also known as Brooskampers. These Surinamese Maroons were led by granman (paramount chief) Broos, escaped enslavement on Dutch plantations and founded their own community in the Surinamese rainforests. Jungerman honours his indebtedness to the culture of the Maroons through the act of creating.

The exhibition’s title, Behind the Forest, is a direct reference to the Bakabusi. For which reason, Jungerman takes 2005 as the starting point for this overview of his artistic oeuvre. Jungerman draws parallels between the geometric patterns of traditional textiles indigenous to Maroon culture, and Modernism. Connecting, juxtaposing or contrasting cultures is intrinsic to his pursuit of an autonomous visual language, which deftly interweaves the cultures of the countries that define him: Suriname, the Netherlands and the United States.

Remy Jungerman is one of the Netherlands’ most important artists. Behind the Forest presents a number of key artworks produced over the past fifteen years, including the installation Visiting Deities, consisting of three large horizontals – ‘bearers of the past’ – above a table in a dry riverbed. Jungerman presented this installation during the 58th Venice Biennale, now once more on display at the Stedelijk. Also on view is Broos, a film composed of photographs and brief film clips Jungerman made during ancestor rituals held by descendants of the Bakabusi on the Rorac plantation in Suriname. The rhythmic arrangement of short black-and-white fragments is underscored by the composition Follow the Light by American jazz musician and composer Jason Moran.

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ABOUT Remy Jungerman

Born in 1959 in Moengo, Suriname
Lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Remy Jungerman attended the Academy for Higher Arts and Cultural Studies in Paramaribo, Suriname, before moving to Amsterdam where he studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. In his work, Jungerman explores the intersection of pattern and symbol in Surinamese Maroon culture, the larger African Diaspora, and 20th Century “Modernism.” In bringing seemingly disparate visual languages into conversation, Jungerman’s work challenges the established art historical canon. As art and culture critic Greg Tate has remarked “Jungerman’s work leaps boldly and adroitly into the epistemological gap between culturally confident Maroon self-knowledge and the Dutch learning curve around all things Jungerman, Afropean and Eurocentric.”

Born and raised in Suriname, he is a descendant, on his mother side, of the Surinamese Maroons who escaped enslavement on Dutch plantations to establish self-governed communities in the Surinamese rain forest. Within their rich culture, many West-African influences are preserved including the prominent use of abstract geometrical patterns. Placing fragments of Maroon textiles, as well other materials found in the African diaspora such as the kaolin clay used in many African religious traditions or the nails featured in West African Nkisi Nkondi power sculpture, in direct contact with materials and imagery drawn from more “established” art traditions, Jungerman presents a peripheral vision that can enrich and inform our perspective on art history.

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