UNSEEN | 2018
Unseen Amsterdam 2018
Galerie Ron Mandos proudly presents work by Isaac Julien (UK, 1960), Sebastiaan Bremer (NL, 1970), Jan Hoek & Bobbin Case (NL, 1984 / UG, 1992), and Girma Berta (ET, 1990).
Isaac Julien’s new photo collage series Radioactive (2018) has been inspired by his 2004 film Radioactive (Encore II). Julien’s new collages stage a solitary heroine, an ‘avatar’ called Lilith Lyapo, who is performed by Vanessa Myrie in the film. These collages explore the Lilith’s “avatar” nature and human and mechanical origins, through solarized landscapes and textures. In these works, Julien wanted to move beyond the idea of merely producing photographs. His application of a mixture of metallic foils shifts the work beyond the photographic into a compelling terrain of hybrid materiality. The various cut-outs involve hand-cut digitally printed foils, which are used in advertising, on cars and robotics. These silver, gold, copper, blue and colorful elements create an unreal, dream-like effect. Through the collage technique and the use of these materials Julien is exploring and highlighting visual textures that mirror the diaphanous imagery and the solarisation and re-coloring processes that were also used in Julien’s Radioactive/Encore II (2004).
Both Julien’s Radioactive (2018) photo-collages and the film Radioactive/Encore II (2004) are inspired by the gripping tale by the African-American science fiction writer Octavia Butler, Dawn (1987).
Each work from this series presents a different combination of colors, cut-outs and compositions, resulting in a distinctive exploration of materiality and create a rare aesthetic. Each work from this series is unique.
Julien has a long-term relationship with collages, as he initially created collage works during his final years as a student at Central Saint Martins in London. Some of Julien’s early collage works, The Other Look (1984), are currently on display as part of the Michael Jackson: On the Wall exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London (until 21st October, 2018) curated by Dr Nicholas Cullinan.
Sebastiaan Bremer often uses pre-existing images to explore profound ideas about time, memory and processing. For his most recent work Bremer has delved into personal memories, registering thoughts and feelings in order to engage with universal concerns about family, the fragility of life, and time passing. Distinctions between the past and present along with old and new observations are blurred to create alternative narratives that are not entirely conclusive. Much like the nature of memory, his works evoke the way in which we often only half-remember certain moments and how our perceptions change over time.
In the presented works Bremer has drawn directly onto the surface of personal photographs, covering the images with intricate patterns of dots. Bremer notes that ‘the mark making which I found as my mode of expression is truly mine. It is my way of putting myself with a mark into the picture, changing it, making my point of view visible inside the photographed reality.’ It is the transformative veil of the artist’s signature white dots that emotively and visually trace memories throughout his body of work.
Jan Hoek & Bobbin Case
Jan Hoek created his recent series Boda Boda Madness (2018) in collaboration with Ugandan-Kenyan fashion designer Bobbin Case. The photos introduce the motor drivers Mad Max Driver, Machette, Vibze, Ghost Rider, Red Devil, Lion and The Rasta Driver, who proudly cruise through Nairobi wearing outstanding outfits on their matching bikes. These many motor taxis, known as Boda Boda, driving around Nairobi intrigued both Hoek and Case. Competition among the drivers incited some of them to create fascinating motorcycles in order to stand out from others and attract the attention of customers. However, Hoek and Case realised the bikers forgot their own looks when customising their rides. The artist and designer selected seven Boda Boda drivers with the most inspiring bikes to create brand new outfits with them. As a result the drivers’ imaginative characters are completed to enhance their visibility on the streets of Nairobi.
In his Moving Shadows series (2017), the emerging photographer Girma Berta juxtaposes solitary figures and sets them against a large field of a single colour, balancing on the verge of urban life photography and conceptualism. His photos exemplify the colourfulness and personalities of the streets of his hometown Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Berta works digitally in both the production and the presentation of his photos so that his images themselves comment on as well as participate in the digital art now being made by a younger generation of photographers in Africa. Berta represents the vibrancy of the millennial African.