Author: Christel Vesters

Uncategorized September 15th, 2015

Kamarado – Camaraderie in times of globalisation and social media

On Saturday 12 September, the Kamarado group exhibition opened at the SMBA. Kamarado is the fourth and last in a series of collaborative projects that are part the three-year Global Collaborations research and exhibition project. After collaborative exchanges with KUNCI in Yogyakarta, the AUB Gallery in Beirut and the Belgrade Museum of Contemporary Art, the Stedelijk Museum/SMBA entered into a dialogue with Clark House Initiative in Bombay, India. Clark House Initiative was founded in 2010 by Sumesh Sharma and Zasha Colah, as a curatorial collaborative, an experimental institution and an artists’ union concerned with ideas of freedom. In the past year, Sumesh Sharma and Zasha Colah have collaborated with Jelle Bouwhuis and Kerstin Winking, curators for Global Collaborations, to realise the ambitious two-part Kamarado project, whose Amsterdam edition consists of an exhibition and a related public program. After Amsterdam, the project will travel to Bombay.

Adrian Melis, Productivity Control System for the Last Cane Cutter, 2015


As was the case in the first exhibition project in the series, Made in Commons, which took place at the end of 2013 and was developed in collaboration with the KUNCI art platform in Indonesia, the important themes of ‘collectiveness’ and ‘the commons’ are at the centre of the Kamarado project. What meaning or importance does camaraderie still hold, when so many want to close national frontiers to those fleeing from war and terror? What does camaraderie mean in a society driven by materialism, profit and ‘my happiness before anyone else’s’?

The themes of collectiveness and communality are intrinsically linked in the term ‘comrade’. The title of the exhibition, ‘kamarado’, is from Esperanto, the politically neutral language developed in the late 19th century to encourage transcultural communication and exchange. In the first place, the term is associated with such political ideologies as socialism and communism, but, as the curators write in their introduction to the exhibition, the term also evokes connotations of less utopian ideals.

Judy Blum Reddy, Futurama, 2014-15Six artists from different parts of the world were invited to participate in the exhibition, reflecting on the meaning of the term ‘comrade’ from their own practices, contexts and world views: Sharelly Emanuelson from the Netherlands, Adrian Melis from Cuba, Amol K. Patil and Rupali Patil from India, Sawangwongse Yawnghe from Burma, Sosa Joseph from Kerala, India, and Jeronimo Voss from Germany. In the exhibition, the new works conceived and realized for the project are complemented with a number of existing works by Judy Blum Reddy, Mieke Van der Voort, Htein Lin and Rupali Patil, which, as the curators express it, operate as ‘cues’, referencing the historical complexities and relations between the new works. By inserting these cues, the curators want to show the connectivity between ‘here and there’, the present and the recent past, and to speculate on a possible narrative regarding the central theme of the exhibition, which is not based on similarities or a singular position, but instead shows the various manifestations and identities of the comrade today.

Can You Describe This?

Can You Describe This?, an essay written by Zasha Colah, one of the curators, for the SMBA Newsletter, makes it clear that there might be another theme running through the exhibition. This is the question of if, and how, we can describe any situation (‘this’) when confronted with images of terror, war, destruction and repression, with a ‘degree zero of political capacities’. ‘To describe alone, in the sphere of intellectual production, is considered a low form that precedes analysis, critical judgment, and theory. (…) Yet describing or description is also a method that is applied in literature and art history.’ Colah then refers to Svetlana Alpers’ seminal study (1983) on 17th-century Dutch painting and its relation to the prevalent optical theories of those times.

Sosa Joseph, What must be said, sketch, 2105Contrary to narrative, description carries an aura of objectivity and neutrality. But, as is the proposition of Jeronimo Voss’ installation, Initial (Aspects of the Milky Way), which engages with the work and life of the Dutch socialist and astronomer Anton Pannekoek (1873-1960), ‘description is also something unstable’. In Pannekoek’s case, for instance, his observations and descriptions of the stars and the Milky Way were shaped by his socialist ideas regarding the correlations and interdependences within the social (i.e., ideal socialist) sphere.


Kamarado is on view at the SMBA from 12 September through 8 November. An informal walk-through, with interviews with the artists about their work by Clark House Initiative and the SMBA took place before the exhibition opened. On Sunday, 13 September, a special public event further extrapolated the exhibition’s different themes in a programme of performances, films and a lecture.

Collecting Geographies August 18th, 2015

Thinking in Narratives: Interview with Bart van der Heide about TROMARAMA and a Global Perspective at the Stedelijk Museum

From 12 June through 6 September, the Stedelijk Museum is presenting the first European solo exhibition by the Indonesian artists collective, TROMARAMA. The exhibition is part of the Stedelijk Museum’s Global Collaborations project. With this three-year programme, the museum hopes to form a well-informed and nuanced perspective of developments in contemporary art from a worldwide approach. Global Collaborations Online editor Christel Vesters spoke with the Stedelijk’s new Chief Curator, Bart van der Heide, about Tromarama’s work, its significance for contemporary art and the Stedelijk Museum in particular, and the Stedelijk’s vision of global art within its own collection and programming policies.

Tromarama, Unbelievable Beliefs (2012), video still Read More »


Global Positions Global Positions February 5th, 2015

Global Positions III Zachary Formwalt – Three Exchanges

Yesterday, the exhibition Three Exchanges, a solo-presentation by Amsterdam based artist Zachary Formwalt opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade. The exhibition is the third episode in the exhibition series Global Positions, part of the Stedelijk Museum’s Global Collaborations program, and was previously on view at the SMBA from November 27, 2014 till January 25, 2015.

Global Collaborations editor Christel Vesters visited the exhibition which consists of three interrelated video works exploring the often-invisible impact of global capitalism, and talked to Zachary Formwalt about the two stock exchanges that figure in the exhibition and the connections between socialism and capitalism they represent; the extensive research that is at the basis of his works, the ‘imagery and imaginary of global capitalism’ and the telling synchronicities that emerge between the discourse on photography and global trading.

In Light of the Arc, Zachary Formwalt, 2013

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Collection September 18th, 2014

How Far How Near… Interview with Jelle Bouwhuis

How Far, How Near: The World in the Stedelijk opened on 18 September, with works from the Stedelijk Museum collection and new work by Godfried Donkor and Lidwien van de Ven, created especially for this exhibition. The exhibition argues on behalf of greater attention to art from regions beyond Europe and North America. Recent acquisitions of works by African artists raise the question of why, in the past, the museum’s collection and exhibition policies have been so geographically limited? Christel Vesters, art critic and editor of ‘Global Collaborations Journal’, interviewed Jelle Bouwhuis, head curator of the exhibition, about the background to How Far, How Near.

Dorothy Akpene Amenuke, How Far How Near, 2012 Read More »

Global Collaborations

At the beginning of this year, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam started its Global Collaborations project; a three-year program with exhibitions, presentations from the collection, lectures, symposia, a special Blikopeners, publications and an online journal here on the website of the Stedelijk Museum. With Global Collaborations, the Stedelijk Museum casts its eye to developments in visual art around the world, with a special focus on upcoming regions, including Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

La Javanaise (2012), Wendelien van Oldenborgh

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