Europe is in a bit of a state. As the UK triggers Article 50, and the populists stir up anxieties about national identity, our leaders debate the very future of the EU. In this environment, maintaining a cultural dialogue is critical and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam does not shy away, presenting a series of five exhibitions in 2017 that speak directly to the theme of migration.
In a recent interview for De Volkskrant, the Stedelijk’s director, Beatrix Ruf said “It is important to always tell new stories, both with our collection and with separate exhibitions. Especially now, as populism is taking hold in Europe. I believe it’s important that, at the Stedelijk Museum, you can see how art addresses this issue, and how art can confront us with how we think and allow us to re-frame our thinking.” It is the job of her museum, she argues, to provide “context” to the simplifications that characterize election time.
By featuring artists from all over the globe, the exhibitions provide a broad perspective and ask us to consider the long history of migration and fundamental issues of otherness. By expanding the discourse beyond the narrow frame of the current EU refugee crisis, perhaps the humanistic perspective missing from the current populist arguments can be awakened.
Exhibition details –
Nalini Malani. Transgressions. One of India’s foremost artists, and a refugee herself during the separation of India and Pakistan, Malani’s work is permeated by themes such as migration, globalisation, poverty, and the oppression of women. The heart of the exhibition is formed by the installation Transgressions, a unique combination of painting, video and moving shadows. More… (March 18 – June 18, 2017)
Solution or Utopia? Designs for refugees. Today, 60 million people are fleeing from war, or have been displaced. Designers and architects can contribute by developing inexpensive and/or smart solutions. This exhibition presents recent initiatives designed for this purpose, and facilitates a platform for discussion about the role that designers, architects and companies play in this societal issue. More… (May 20 – September 3, 2017)
Zanele Muholi. A young South African photographer, renowned for her socially engaged photography and portrayal of black lesbian and gay identity and politics in contemporary South Africa. (July 8 – October 15, 2017)
I was born a foreigner: aspects of migration. Works from the Stedelijk’s own collection showing the history of migration, the Dutch immigrants who arrived in 1900 in New York to the current Syrian refugees in Turkey. (mid 2017)
Carlos Motta. The Crossing. A Colombian artist and activist delivers a work made especially for the Stedelijk Museum, a video installation on how the Netherlands deals with refugees, migrants and minorities, especially from the perspective of homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders. (September 16, 2017 – January 7, 2018)
If you are in Amsterdam this year, a visit to one of more of these exhibitions should be on your agenda. For more information visit Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
Virginia Proud is the editor of Arts Review Europe, theatre director and playwright, and Research Officer in politics and cultural diplomacy at Vrije Universiteit Brussel.