When Jasper Johns was recently asked how he thought he had evolved in his more than sixty years as an artist, he replied: “It’s very difficult to know, because it’s a bit like ageing. In many ways you don’t feel you’ve changed at all, and yet you’re perfectly aware you have, and if you examine yourself in the mirror, you can point to the details. There’s a little bit of Gertrude Stein: ‘What’s the use of being a little boy if you are going to grow up to be a man?”
Stein’s quote stems from her 1936 lecture What are master-pieces and why are there so few of them? In this lecture Stein speaks of the relation that identity and time have with creation. For her the creation of a master-piece demands an absence of time and identity, although the piece itself may concern itself with these issues. The reason that there are few master-pieces is that people mostly live in identity and memory. That is what makes life go on, that is what makes life pleasurable. It takes a genius to exist without time and identity, while at the same time happily talking about these subjects.
In regard to geniuses, who are professed to stay eternally young, Stein states that the boy and the man have nothing to do with each other, except in respect to memory and identity. However as soon as they have anything to do with each other in respect to memory and identity then they will never produce a masterpiece. According to Stein, growing up is something that continues, whereas a master-piece does not continue, but is as it is. For Stein the business of art is to live in the actual present, that is the complete actual present, and to express that complete actual present.
The participating artists in the exhibition were all born in the 1970’s. As they can no longer be considered boys or girls in the strict definition of the word, they might be able to formulate an answer to Stein's question ‘What is the use of being a boy if you are going to grow up to be a man?’ Or for that matter ‘What is the use of being a girl if you are going to grow up to be a woman?’ Do these artists feel a kinship to the concept of the master-piece, as proposed by Stein, or do they prefer a more anti-iconic approach? In trying to answer these questions the exhibition focuses on the myriad ways that memory, time and identity relate to each other.
MARTIJN HENDRIKS (1973, Eindhoven, NL) is living and working in Amsterdam. His work has been exhibited in The Netherlands and abroad in solo exhibitions - of which the most recent was Almost Nothing and Almost Everything at Martin van Zomeren Gallery in Amsterdam - and group shows, such as Autumn of Modernism at De Vleeshal in Middelburg, Memery at MASS MoCA in Massachusetts and Free at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.
Martijn Hendriks' work explores how the perception and significance of images change when transformed through different media. Many of his images are sourced from the Internet and subsequently translated into more traditional artistic forms, like sculpture or installation.
From 2 June until 16 September 2012 Martijn Hendriks will participate in the exhibition Minimal Myth at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam.
GERT JAN KOCKEN (1971, Ravenstein, NL) is living and working in Amsterdam where he currently holds a residency at the Rijksakademie. His work has been widely exhibited in The Netherlands and abroad in solo exhibitions - recently at the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam - and group shows, such as To the Arts Citizens! at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, Monumentalism at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and The Return of Religion and other Myths at BAK in Utrecht.
Gert Jan Kocken's work consists of large-scale photography installations and is based on an ongoing research into the remembrance and visual representation of important episodes and turning points in world history.
From 12 December 2012 until 13 March 2013 Gert Jan Kocken will participate in the first Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India.
JOSEPH MONTGOMERY (1979, Northampton, MA, US) is living and working in New York. His work has been exhibited in the United States and abroad in solo exhibitions - most recently Velveteen at Laurel Gitlen Gallery in New York - and group shows, such as Curating the Contemporary: Joseph Montgomery and Ned Vena at Kunsthaus Baselland in Basel, Into the Surface at Brand New Gallery in Milan and the 2011 Bridgehampton Biennial in Bridgehampton, NY.
Joseph Montgomery's images in this exhibition consist of small-scale wall reliefs that straddle the line between painting and sculpture. They are assembled from found do-it-yourself materials, like canvas, cardboard, clay and plastic whose disparate textures he skilfully unifies.
From 2 February until 30 June 2013 Joseph Montgomery will participate in the exhibition Painter Painter at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
ABIGAIL REYNOLDS (1970, Stamford, Lincolnshire, UK) is living and working in St Just in Penwith, Cornwall. Her most recent solo exhibition was A Common Treasury at Ambach and Rice Gallery in Los Angeles. Currently she has work in several group shows such as There was a country where they were all thieves at Jeanine Hofland Contemporary Art in Amsterdam, Topophobia at Spacex in Exeter and Appropriation I at Fotogalerie Wien in Vienna.
Abigail Reynolds works with assemblage and collage, making use of photographs of landmarks and landscapes, usually found in second-hand books. The photographers of these images had very specific commissions. Her use of these images provokes the diverse social and ideological goals of these seemingly innocent photographs.
From 4 November 2012 until 10 February 2013 Abigail Reynolds will participate in the exhibition Dear Aby Warburg, what's to be done with images? at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen.
ALEXANDER MAYHEW (1973, Amsterdam, NL) is a Dutch/British art historian and critic, who regularly publishes in art magazines such as Metropolis M and Tubelight, for which he is an editor. He also holds a Master’s degree in Intellectual Property & Media Law. In 2003 his thesis on the right to privacy was shortlisted for the Dutch National Thesis Prize. Since then he has been working as an independent text writer, moderator and trainer. In 2011 among other occasions he moderated the Artist Talks Programme at Art Brussels and the Stroom Invest Conference in The Hague. He performed the role of valuator in Sara Vanhee’s performance The Great Public Sale of Unrealized but Brilliant Ideas at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven and was the external expert for graduation at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. Currently he is on the jury for the AICA Award 2012 for the best publication on contemporary art, architecture and design. Since this year he teaches rhetorics at The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.
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