The 23rd edition of Art Rotterdam will officially open on Thursday 19 May in the iconic Van Nelle factory in Rotterdam. Lovers of contemporary art can once again discover the work of emerging and established artists in the booths of more than a hundred leading galleries from home and abroad. In this article, we highlight a number of remarkable works.
Esther Kokmeijer — ‘De Grondwet in porselein’ (‘The Constitution in Porcelain’) (2022) — Gallery Vriend van Bavink
Recent events have made it all too clear that social and political gains are vulnerable as long as they are not codified in law — or when they are still included in the Criminal Code, as is the case in the Netherlands. In the booth of Gallery Vriend van Bavink you can see an unusual rendition of the Dutch Constitution. The last time that this Constitution was radically modernized in 1983 (four years before the birth of this author) but the basis of the Constitution as we know it today lies in the 1848 version — the result of a peaceful revolution led by Dutch politician Thorbecke that turned the Netherlands into a parliamentary democracy. Esther Kokmeijer executed the Constitution in thin porcelain, copied and burned in from the original document. This results in a version that is simultaneously vulnerable and strong, a perfect metaphor. The first edition of this edition of 3 was purchased by the Senate of the States General and is presented on the route that the senators take when they walk to the plenary hall.
Maze de Boer — ‘Pick a Fruit NFT’ (2022) — galerie dudokdegroot
During Art Rotterdam, gallery dudokdegroot offers an exceptional opportunity to buy an NFT. The multi-disciplinary artist Maze de Boer is intrigued by the world behind NFTs and hopes to spark a discussion about it. He dug into the technicalities and created a modified algorithm that gives you a new way to play on a contemporary Pick a Fruit machine — but instead of cash there is an NFT to be won. You can play for 20, 40 or 60 euros and you win an NFT in all cases. For 20 euros you get 1 credit, which means that you can push the green button three times. The game is visually similar to the original game: you press the green button, the machine spins and three fruit icons appear. You can pin 1 or 2 slots to increase your chance of winning a rarer icon. And just like in Las Vegas, some fruities are rare. You are essentially buying the NFT symbol you have spun. Didn't manage to collect the same icon in a row of three? Then you always win a banana NFT! The machine then creates a receipt with your icon on it, with instructions for putting your purchased NFT in a digital wallet. The machine also "mints" the icon with a contract code so that your purchased NFT appears on Open Sea, the marketplace for NFTs. So for twenty euros, you have an NFT in your hands. But perhaps even more interesting: the discussion surrounding it!
Marie Clerel — ‘Midi series’ (2019) — Galerie Binome
This work by the French photographer Marie Clerel is a photographic weather diary of sorts. Every day at noon, Clerel exposes a piece of light-sensitive paper (cyanotype) to daylight for twenty minutes, resulting in a photogram. This results in varying shades of blue, depending on the weather that day: good weather results in a deep blue, cloudy weather results in more pale types of blue. Together they form an abstract collection of the weather during a month, a kind of poetic weather calendar. This cameraless work can be seen in the booth of Galerie Binome during Art Rotterdam.
Alicia Framis — ‘Leave here your fears’ (2021) — Upstream Gallery
Next to the train station in Utrecht, you will find a large, silver, mirrored and polished steel ball with a diameter of one and a half meters. This work by the Spanish artist Alicia Framis — which is part of the Rabobank Art Collection — seems to offer a literal reflection of the heavens, but if you look a little closer you see a small slit, a small mailbox. This work is called 'Cartas al Cielo', or 'Letters for Heaven'. It invites passers-by to send a message to their lost loved ones, to people without an address. Framis is known for her social sculptures that evoke direct contact between the maker and the viewer, a small intimate moment. Upstream Gallery will be showing another interactive work by the artist during Art Rotterdam: 'Leave here your fears'. As a buyer of this work, you invite your guests to take a moment to be vulnerable and share their greatest fears, only to see them disappear in a stainless steel, mirrored and polygonal pyramid.
Elias Sime — ‘TIGHTROPE: ECHO!?’ (2020) — GRIMM
During Art Rotterdam, GRIMM will show this work by the Ethiopian artist Elias Sime, who often uses recycled waste material for his abstract and organic-looking works. His work is currently also on display at the Arsenale during the Venice Biennale, as part of the exhibition 'The Milk of Dreams'. The materials Sime uses range from discarded computer waste — often sent to African countries for "processing" — and wires to organic material. The materials he uses come from the largest open-air market in Africa, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Sime's practice focuses, among other things, on the influence of consumerism and technological progress on people and the environment. He is also inspired by traditional Ethiopian craft traditions.