Young Artists Remix (Photography)

The Merchant House, Amsterdam / Netherlands

September 7–October 19, 2018
September 7, 2018
The Merchant House
Herengracht 254
1016 BV Amsterdam

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Celebrating Unseen 2018: September 21–23, special gallery hours: 12–6pm
Roundtable. Meet the artists: September 22, 6–8pm
Unseen Open Gallery Night: September 22, 8–10pm
Screening and cycle finissage: October 19, 7–9pm

The final exhibition of the Making Things Happen cycle traces the weight of photography across other mediums—painting, sculpture, performance, and installation—exploited by the six young participants Sylvie Bonnot, Zhu Hong, Elsa Tomkowiak, Mary Sue, Boris Chouvellon, and Mengzhi Zheng. All six start by interrogating spaces and collecting visual field notes on contemporary society. And with each the camera enters the creative process, but at different stages and for different forms of exposure.

Expert in photographic art and technique, these young practitioners opt to engage with the theme of the object and image. Bypassing the artifice of the digital, the overtly political, or even the use of the medium as a conceptual tool, all six focus on photography-based objects and signal the conceptual through the material. Fully conscious that our image-making gaze is a product of social powers and unconscious desires and not strictly optical, they masterfully redeploy photographic indexing and iconographic currency. In the process, they create works based on real experiences, which might be collectively significant or personally dear.

Sylvie Bonnot (1982, French) is a determined photographer drawn to uncharted natural and urban landscapes; back in the studio, she makes her images rupture, volumize as sculptures, or materialize like skin. Remix highlights her new work. Zhu Hong (1975, French born in China) and Mengzhi Zheng (1983, French born in China) start with circumstantial photography, and the exhibition includes their Amsterdam-rooted pieces. Zhu Hong’s lens captures the visual material that our eyes would omit; she then brings it back to light in painting and drawing. Zheng’s focus is on architectural details, which he first registers in drawings and etched plates; his aims are, however, painterly three-dimensionality and architectonic color. Responding to photography in her vision of color, Elsa Tomkowiak (1981, French) paints to achieve visual transparency or opaqueness; her new small spectral drawings make a vibrant painterly contribution to Remix. Mary Sue begins in reverse by drawing out the artifacts for her performances: these initial comic strips become laboriously turned out as videos, sculptures, and photographs that exploit her eponymous alter-ego. For Boris Chouvellon (1980, French), photography takes a place on par with the rest of his output in video, sculpture, and installation. The title of his continuous geographic study series, Boris Chouvellon—Photographer, sets out this position and contributes to the overall theme of Remix.

Making Things Happen: Young Artists Remix (Photography) rounds up the 2017/18 cycle at TMH. The project was conceived by Marsha Plotnitsky, TMH Founding Artistic Director, and art writer and curator Hubert Besacier. The cycle aims to broach the question: How do young artists insert themselves into the history of their chosen art medium?

About The Merchant House
The Merchant House presents contemporary art projects with sales of art as a funding strategy. Each project, curated by TMH’s Founding Artistic Director Marsha Plotnitsky, brings together an extended exhibition, cultural and research events and a dedicated catalogue/artist’s book. TMH has showcased international and Dutch innovators, such as Henk Peeters, Jan Schoonhoven, André de Jong, Chuck Close, Carolee Schneemann, Hilarius Hofstede, Craigie Horsfield, Judit Reigl, and Pino Pinelli, as well as young talent. Since it opened its doors in a historical canal house in Amsterdam in 2013, it has become known as a modern take on the Dutch tradition of a merchant—a vibrant art space freely open to the public.

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