INSPIRED: seven artists on religion, ritual, and death
With works by Koštana Banović, Avantia Damberg, Lena Davidovich, Remy Jungerman, Hamid El Kanbouhi, Ida van der Lee, and Saliou Traoré.
Still on at CBK Zuidoost till June 28, www.cbkzuidoost.nl; Anton de Komplein 120, 1102 DR Amsterdam Zuidoost
Thursday June 19: Urban Spirits; a joint program on religion by Imagine IC, Bijlmerpark Theater and CBK Zuidoost (for more information see from mid-April facebook.com/cultuurlijn1102)
Religion and rituals provide guidance when coping with uncertainties and difficult situations. Death (of a loved one) or one´s own mortality is perhaps one of the most difficult events to grasp in life, but at the same time it is an inseparable aspect of life. The exhibition INSPIRED reflects on this matter from various points of view.
Koštana Banović (Sarajevo, Bosnia,1965) makes drawings, performances, and above all movies. Her interest in rituals and religion is present throughout her oeuvre. To her, rituals are the main medium for reducing the distance between the Self and the Other who appear in her work. Her work Tevhid (video installation, 2014) shows a mourning ritual of Muslim women in Sarajevo. Tevhid is a commemoration where Muslims come together and pray to commemorate their deceased. In Bosnia, this is primarily practiced by and takes place in the domestic sphere on fixed days of the religious calendar, usually within the first forty days after the funeral or during Ramadan.
Avantia Damberg (Leeuwarden, Netherlands, 1977) lives and works on Curaçao. She draws, takes photographs, and makes videos, animations and installations. She combines travelling with the creation of new work. While traveling she discovers things about her faith, which she reinstates into her art works along with observations and humor. Her project The Afterlife (2014) includes an animation as well as a series of drawings and collages in which she addresses the theme ‘afterlife’. The work is based on conversations she had with several religious friends worldwide about their idea of life after death. In the animation you hear their voices talking about their ideas of eternal life and heaven.
Lena Davidovich (Bobruisk, Belarus, 1970) makes drawings and animations about stories which somehow relate to her. With her work she likes to confront the human perceptions about possibilities and limitations and show that there’s more than we can imagine. The animation Raised from the Dead – P1 (2004) is based on a documentary about a Nigerian pastor who died after a car crash. After the funeral ceremony, he was raised from the dead. Davidovich’s film tells about what the pastor experienced during his physical death. Raised from the Dead – P2 (2005-06) is a diary based on the testimony of the pastor’s wife.
Remy Jungerman (Moengo, Suriname, 1959) makes collages, sculptures and installations. In his work he combines the different cultural worlds in which he lives. His work refers both to the aesthetics of the rituals of the Winti and Maroon culture in Suriname, as to Western art movements. His work FODU: ultimate resistance (2014) shows two cubes that – because of the elements they contain – refer to Afro-religious contexts, as well as ancestor worship. Jungerman covered the cubes with Surinamese and African (Vlisco) textile and kaolin; a fine white clay that originates from his place of birth and is used in Winti rituals and ancestor worship.
Hamid El Kanbouhi (Larache, Morocco, 1976) works with different media such as drawing, painting, installation and performance. With his work, he blends all conventions: the rules and codes of the art world, the traditional norms and customs of another culture, the supposed difference between high and low culture. For El Kanbouhi everything can be religious: from signs of the cross and stars, to calendars and office buildings. In Morocco, where the artist grew up, religion is an established part of life. The drawings in BEZIELD are infused with symbols of different religions. He made them especially for this exhibition with the theme of death and religion as a starting point.
Ida van der Lee (Beemster, Netherlands, 1961) specializes in the design of rituals that are of social importance. Commemoration and identification of situations of change and loss are her focus. Through ritual art she guided the demolition of neighborhoods and buildings. As of 2005, the commemoration of the dead was added to her repertoire. The Herinnerkast (Cabinet of Memories, designed by Ella Nitters, 2009) is part of her Allerzielen Alom project (All Souls All Over) with which she has given an impulse to the culture of the dead. In front of the cabinet, a table is filled with objects. They may be memories, they may evoke associations or work as a metaphor. Visitors can choose an object that reminds them of a loved one that has deceased, and place it in the cabinet.
Saliou Traoré (Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso 1965) works in the field of sculpture and performance. He is interested in the re-cognition of the conditional nature of hospitality of people and places; one might call Traoré’s work a reversed anthropology. In the performance and film I am so surprised (2014) Traoré performs a public sermon in the streets of the Bijlmer and stages a dialogue between a passionate preacher and his listeners. With these speeches he opens inter-religious dialogue and reflects on religion as being a prime source of strength and sustenance to many people when dealing with death. This work is inspired by a scene in Spike Lee’s movie Malcolm X. In his film fragment Spike Lee depicts a group of preachers who are trying to convince the public of their religious belief.