NRC Handelsblad Cultural supplement, Dec. 14, 2007
Each individual reduced to a template
To find the Nieuwe Vide Gallery, one needs a map of the outskirts of Haarlem (project still to be constructed), good hiking shoes, and a solid dose of perseverance. The old building, hidden behind scaffoldings and green nets, is located amid a project under development with deep puddles of mud and randomly installed construction fences ...
The Gallery currently exhibits the work of Jennifer Protas and Karni Dorell, two US artists. Their audiovisual system with the name The Expanding Mall is a cross-Atlantic creation, since Dorell lives in New York and Protas in Amsterdam. They have used the Internet to generate their ideas and share their images.
The room is equipped with 4 speakers from which one hears a tune, either whistled, hummed, or sung as “lalala.” The tune is continuously repeated, and at times supported by a very limited instrumental accompaniment. The melancholic tune will stay in one’s head forever. The white walls are covered with cut and pasted black and white figures… a male with a sandwich in his hand, a veiled female and a group of children.
One projector shows pictures of landscapes, empty sandy plains, mountains and hills with electricity poles, newly built townhouses, or a small bridge, as well as skyscrapers built as close as possible next to one another, factory towers, or metro lines. The other projector shows a film with the same still figures attached to the wall. However, in the movie they swarm, turn like windmills, or fall over … endlessly.
The platforms to which the projectors are attached rotate around their axles. This makes the pictures and the movie glide in various perspective-deformed formats along the walls, and makes them cross at random points. At these random points, the figures fall through the rail tracks and through empty, blown to pieces apartment buildings in a war zone.
The spectator is in the center of a distressing and gloomy universe. Each individual is reduced to a template. .. against a background of empty landscapes or miserable industrial zones.
Hence, the gallery’s location is perfect for the exhibition. A deserted construction site with a few ignorant passers-by, not willing to help you, and a bus driver leaving exactly when you are approaching the bus. Or as described by the artists, “We are left and are lost. What else do we have left, but the ability to whistle and hum melancholic tunes, while we are stumbling in awe?”
Jennifer Protas and Karni Dorell: The Expanding Mall, Nieuwe Vide Gallery, Minckelersweg 6, Haarlem, (31) (0)23-5451583, www.nieuwevide.nl
Opening: Sunday 2 December, 15.00
Open: Thursday thru Sunday, 14.00 – 17.00
Till Sunday 30 December
Tel. 023 - 545 1583
(translated from Dutch into English, compliments of RR Donnelley)