Highlights from Amsterdam Art Weekend

From Yael Bartana’s weapon funeral to Patricia Kaersenhout’s homage to Judy Chicago, your guide to the best shows in the Dutch capital

BY Sonja-Maria Borstner in Critic's Guides | 21 NOV 19

Leyla Aydolsu, XIX, detail, 2019. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Charlott Markus

Leyla Aydoslu, ‘Oomph Part V’ 
16 November – 22 December

Using found building materials like concrete and steel, Ghent-based artist Leyla Aydoslu creates sculptures that deconstruct architectural elements and reveal how small individual parts of big structures can have different meanings when displayed out of context. For her exhibition ‘Oomph Part V’ at P/////AKT, she has created a site-specific sculpture that stretches from the wall onto the surrounding pillars, which combines with raw and unembellished plaster casts and moulds. 

Carlos Amorales, Orgy of Narcissus, 2019, installation view, ‘The Factory’, 2019, Stedeljik Museum, Amsterdam. Courtesy: the artist, kurimanzutto, Mexico City / New York and Nils Stærk Gallery, Copenhagen, photograph: Peter Tijhuis

Carlos Amorales, ‘The Factory’
Stedelijk Museum
23 November – 17 May 2020

Having studied at Amsterdam’s Gerrit Rietveld Academy and Rijksakademie in the 1990s, Mexican artist Carlos Amorales returns to the Dutch capital for his first retrospective in Europe. ‘The Factory’ at Stedelijk Museum spans 14 rooms and shows a variety of mediums: from paintings and videos to large site-specific installations. Consisting of dozens of monochrome silhouettes in vector format, Almorales’s digital image bank Liquid Archive (2004–ongoing) often forms the backdrop to works that explore the tension between individual concerns and social anticipations. The textile frieze, Orgy of Narcissus (2019), for instance, depicts internet memes and examines the vast distribution and shifting meanings of digital images. 

Matthew Monahan, Untitled, stainless steel, oil paint, 48 × 36 × 31 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam

Matthew Monahan, ‘Boys Don’t Cry’
Galerie Fons Welters
22 November – 11 January 2020

The human body has always been a starting point for Matthew Monahan’s works. For his fifth exhibition at Galerie Fons Welters, he has created a series of new sculptures and collages, which exclusively pay attention to the face and reflect on its vulnerability. ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, the title of the show, uses the common and essentially false idiom according to which men are not supposed to show emotions. Monahan’s painted stainless-steel sculptures show crumpled male faces, carrying a certain sadness and lament that could be read as a deconstruction of this false gender ascription. 

Yael Bartana, Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies Mask 2, 2018, silkscreen on aluminium, 63 × 51 × 3 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam

Yael Bartana, ‘The Undertakers’
Annet Gelink Gallery
22 November – 11 January 2020

Yael Bartana’s exhibition ‘The Undertakers’ at Annet Gelink Gallery assembles videos, sculptures and prints that address mechanisms of militarism, nationhood, belonging and memory. The video The Undertaker (2019), which is at the heart of the show, stages a fictional public funeral of weapons at the Lauren Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia – famous for its numerous military sepulchres – and echoes military aesthetics and rituals that worship violence. Accompanied by a series of fossilized weapons and printed masks, ‘The Undertakers’ foregrounds the destructive mechanisms of combat that have come to define our past and present states.

Claudia Martínez Garay, El Creador (The Creator), 2019, installation view, ‘16th Istanbul Biennal: The Seventh Continent’, 2019 ©SahirUgurEren 

Claudia Martínez Garay, ‘A las revoluciones, como a los árboles, se les reconoce por sus frutos’ (Revolutions, like trees, are recognized by their fruits)
22 November – 25 January 2020

How does the perception of our common historiography change in different contexts? Claudia Martínez Garay’s first solo exhibition in Amsterdam focuses on the current state of indigenous heritage and the impact of colonialisms on its perception and classification. The murals and ceramic sculptures presented at GRIMM reflect on the aftermath of colonialism in Peru and how it fundamentally changed the creation, preservation and circulation of cultural artefacts. Similar to the genesis of historical narratives, Garay’s presentation at the gallery will undergo several transformations and constantly change throughout the duration of the exhibition.

Particia Kaersenhout,‘Guess Who's Coming To Dinner Too?’, 2019, installation view, De Appel, Amsterdam. Photograph: Aatjan Renders

Patricia Kaersenhout, ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Too?’
De Appel
5 October – 1 December

As a homage to feminist artist Judy Chicago’s installation The Dinner Party (1974–79), dedicated to 39 women in history (from Emily Dickinson to Georgia O’Keeffe), Patricia Kaersenhout’s exhibition at De Appel pays tribute to 38 ‘heroines of resistance’. Kaersenhout’s dinner table particularly honours women of colour for whom she created a series of glass works in collaboration with the Vrij Glas Foundation. ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Too?’ can be read as a reanimation of Chicago’s iconic work, rethinking questions about history, hospitality and asking: who should have a seat at the table now?

Anne Wenzel, Under Construction (My Pussy My Rules), 2018, ceramics, steel plinth, 95 × 46 × 41 cm. Courtesy: the artist

‘Heroines Now’
2 November – 21 December 

How have feminist strategies changed since the 1970s? The group exhibition ‘Heroines Now’ at AKINCI revisits the gallery’s first feminist exhibition, ‘Heroine’, from 2005. While the first show presented works by groundbreaking female artists like Ana Mendieta and Carolee Schneemann, this second edition gives space to a new generation of feminist artists to examine the different needs and questions that have arisen since. While Melanie Bonajo’s photographs argue for an empowerment of female sexuality, Anne Wenzel explores symbols and representations of power within ceramic female busts. Elsewhere, Lungiswa Gqunta, current resident of the Rijksakademie, and Sarah Naqvi examine patriarchal and regressive structures in their native countries South Africa and India. 

Other events

• Every year, the Rijksakademie selects 25 international artists to take part in their two-year-long artist residency program in the heart of Amsterdam. This weekend there’s a once-in-a-year chance to visit the artists’ studios during  RijksakademieOPEN.

• Amsterdam’s second famous residency programme De Ateliers uses the Art Weekend to present a group exhibition by former participants. Those who want to know more about the current residents can have a look at Galerie Fons Welters’s front space, where current De Atelier participant Sarah Ksieska will show paintings alongside works by Josefina Anjou.

The 8th edition of Amsterdam Art Weekend runs from 21 – 24 November 2019.

Main Image: Particia Kaersenhout,‘Guess Who's Coming To Dinner Too?’, 2019, installation view, de Appel, Amsterdam. Photograph: Aatjan Renders

Sonja-Maria Borstner is a writer and curator based in Berlin, Germany. She is the editorial assistant at Gropius Bau and co-editor of the online magazine PASSE-AVANT.