Aernout Mik, Communitas
Museum Folkwang Essen
from 29 October 2011
until 15 January 2012

“My pieces are about political or social events, but they are not direct images of those events. They act a bit like flashes which you can recognise but not precisely locate.”

Aernout Mik

Organised by Jeu de Paume (Paris), the Museum Folkwang (Essen) and the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), this retrospective exhibition conceived in close collaboration with Aernout Mik brings together a selection of his works from the last ten years, with an emphasis on the most recent, including his new video installation, Shifting Sitting, produced specially for the occasion. Eight installations in all are presented in a setting designed specially by the artist, which treats these architectural constructions as an integral part of the work.

The title of the exhibition, "Communitas", is that of a video by Mik from 2010 which was presented at the Palace of Arts and Sciences in Warsaw during the summer of 2010. The term “communitas” evokes books by philosophers and sociologists, among them Zygmunt Baumann, Jean-Luc Nancy, Roberto Esposito, Paul and Percival Goodman, and features prominently in the writings of the British anthropologist Victor Turner (1920-1983). It evokes transitional phases that escape the everyday social order, and the anthropologist uses it to define unstructured communities in which individuals are equal (medieval pilgrimages and certain African rites, for example). Mik’s installations create such experimental or “anti-structured” assemblies. The stagings into which his characters are projected are like moments escaping any kind of normality, in which each person’s role is never sure or stable.

The exhibition aims to create new connections between the different ways the artist has of handling space, whether in his architectural installations or projections. It also presents the connections between his works and documentaries, such as Raw Footage (2006) — based on the principle of found footage, and more precisely on the recuperation of press photos — and works that are wholly staged, such as Schoolyard (2009), Osmosis and Excess (2005), Park (2002), and Middlemen (2001). These pieces reflect different forms of violence, aggression and tension, and show the diversity of forms of behaviour: gatherings, clashes, rituals and collective obsessions. Shot in Italy, Mik’s latest installation, Shifting Sitting (2010–11), continues his long-standing exploration of the different forms of democracy in Europe. He made this work at the request of Jeu de Paume, the Museum Folkwang and the Stedelijk Museum, and with the support of the Netherlands Film Fund, the Netherlands Foundation for the Visual Arts, Design and Architecture, and the European Cultural Foundation.

Leontine Coelewij (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam),
Sabine Maria Schmidt (Museum Folkwang, Essen)
and Marta Gili (Jeu de Paume, Paris).

> Museum Folkwang Essen,
Museumsplatz 1,
45128 Essen
Related PDF document to download