The exhibition What We Have Overlooked, curated by Mirjam Westen, displays a selection of art works acquired by Museum Arnhem over the past twenty-five years. The selection consists of artists who in their work connect social, cultural and political issues within their own local context to a broader global framework. They question taken-for-granted historical constructions, cultural identities and political institutions. Framer Framed has been dealing with similar topics since its conception in 2009; critically analysing intercultural processes in contemporary art by means of debates, exhibitions and public programs. With What We Have Overlooked, Museum Arnhem and Framer Framed aim to shed new light on these debates.
The exhibition shows works addressing the aforementioned topics, by a range of international artists. All participating artists: Lida Abdul, Özlem Altin, Carlos Amorales, Atousa Bandeh, Melanie Bonajo, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Esiri Erheriene-Essi, Angèle Etoundi Essamba, Meschac Gaba, Regina José Galindo, Remy Jungerman, Roshini Kempadoo, Monali Meher, Zanele Muholi, Ria Pacquée, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Laura Samsom-Rous, Michael Tedja, Lidwien van de Ven, Kara Walker, H.W. Werther
One work, a series called Ecu – European Currency Unfolds (1992) by British artist Roshini Kempadoo, is still very relevant in the contemporary context. For this work Kempadoo, shortly after the enforcement of Europe’s ‘Schengen Agreement’, reproduced the then-banknotes of the European countries. On these notes, she pasted scenes of refugees and native peoples of former European colonies. With this she aimed to express her vision on the colonial history and future identity of the European Union.
The American artist Kara Walker raises another aspect of colonial history in her series The Emancipation Approximation (1999-2000): slavery. By means of a silhouette technique she addresses the influence of racist and sexual stereotypes on our everyday life in a narrative way; using wry, satirical overtones.
Thai artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, in her video from the series Village and Elsewhere (2010-2012), shows the effects of taking art out of the museum setting, by transferring it to an everyday context and monitoring viewers’ reactions. She places copies of renowned works by the likes of Van Gogh, Manet, Jeff Koons and Cindy Sherman on public squares, at the edge of a field, or in a Buddhist temple in Thailand. She then films the responses of local residents encountering the pieces. The videos are marked by the curiosity of the Thai residents; as their obvious pleasure in discussing the art works together is paired with a contagious sense of humour.
Since the nineties, Museum Arnhem has been at the foreground of accomplishing a culturally diverse art collection. By means of shifting collection presentations in and outside Arnhem, the museum is constantly forging new connections, offering views that attract and represent both current and future generations from different cultural backgrounds.
ABOUT Esiri Erheriene-Essi
Esiri Erheriene- Essi lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
"The John Baldessari’s quote: ‘Historical mispronounced sounds like hysterical’ can best describe the theme and concern of my paintings. With this as a basis, I am constantly attempting to disrupt the confidence and assumptions of a reader who is familiar with history, thus, confusing their sense of logical sequence. I do this by challenging, displacing, appropriating and, in some cases, playing with the order of both collective and intimate strands of history, memory, myths, and culture of the past and present. In my alternate universe, I pit the musical 1960s group ‘Diana Ross and the Supremes’ against a repeated backdrop of Baader Meinhof/RAF member Brigitte Mohnhaupt, even though there is no evidence to suggest a connection. I paint figures who were lynched in late 19th and early 20th century America and Europe, but on my canvases, they are liberated through the simple act of eradicating the instrument of the noose and the faces of their tormentors. I remove Warhol superstar Joe Dallesandro out of film sequences and place him in an edited solitary setting on canvas. I continuously hinder former president John F Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy moments before the shots in 1963 - so in my narrative time is frozen and the assassination never actually takes place.
This logic is based on reading encyclopedias and referential yearbooks and seeing the historical narrative transcribed and sequenced in chronological order. Meaning, situations, events and images of the past that have no other relation than the fact that they are historical references of the same time, are being connected and placed side by side. So in my painting universe RAF members were inspired by the music of the Supremes, and the Supremes number-one hit song ‘You keep me hangin’ on’ was triggered by atrocities committed by the RAF. I don't know for sure, but these 'almost connections' and new possibilities of readings of the past is what I'm concerned with and what intrigues me the most.
Above all I am fascinated by a continued investigation of mass media, pop cultural iconography, appropriation, and mythology, as well as repetition of imagery. I am obsessed by the gaps, the silences, the disturbances and the assault in the historical narrative. As I am curious about the infinite possibilities of new readings. Thus, history is imperative to my practice but I am taking these references and facts and rewriting things just a bit." Esiri Erheriene-Essi recently graduated from the prestigious post graduate residency De Ateliers in Amsterdam. In 2006 she finished a master in Fine Arts at the University of East London, after completing her bachelor in Media Studies at the same university. Her work was exhibited in several galleries in London and Amsterdam.