Marijke van Warmerdam. Then, now, and then

ZKM Karlsruhe | 29.10. 2022 – 05.02.2023

© Marijke van Warmerdam

Marijke van Warmerdam first attracted international attention at the Venice Biennale in 1995 with her short film loops. In these films she portrayed the beauty of simple movements and everyday actions. As she says herself: “Art can give life a twist, and the other way around.”

In her work Van Warmerdam (*1959, the Netherlands) does not tell stories, but relies on the visual power of the motif: a hat dancing in the wind, a drop of milk slowly dissolving in a glass of water, a girl doing a handstand or a red suitcase sliding down a snowy mountain. Although she uses a variety of media including photography, sculpture, and sound installations, she is best known for her short, looped films.

The exhibition »Marijke van Warmerdam. Then, now, and then« consists of fourteen new films that the artist made during a residency in Rome in 2017 and subsequent visits to the Italian capital. They portray Roman street life: the joggers, the motorists, the shoppers, and of course the lovers. Together, they form a series in which present, past, and future are linked together.

The films show how the dynamism of the Baroque lives on in today’s Rome. Distance and proximity, visibility and invisibility, movement and rotation alternate. Camerawork, lighting, editing, everything in the films is designed to make the restless whirls of the Baroque visible. At any moment of its constant flow – day, dawn and night – the camera is moving together with bikers, car drivers, and the Tiber.

The films are shown as repetitive loops in which the sounds of the city play as vital a role as the accompanying images. In fact, the soundtrack provides the connecting tissue between the fourteen films. Visitors are invited to take a stroll between projection screens and sculptural elements, receiving different stimuli, as if they were in a city, zooming from one place to another.      

Additional to the film installation a new work called »Timeline« is presented. A long screen print on paper connects the films in a more graphic way. The work refers to history, the Roman period in the middle of the present time in which leisure and tourism are dominant. Every new period in history gradually but inevitably closes a previous one.

The work has been produced at the State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe and commissioned by the ZKM to the artist.

»Then, now, and then« is almost a showcase of Van Warmerdam’s oeuvre. Numerous themes and motifs from earlier works return in a new guise. With a keen eye for abstract image qualities Van Warmerdam celebrates the hidden order of chance, the quality that makes life on the street so colourful, day after day, over the centuries.

In addition to the Venice Biennale, Marijke van Warmerdam has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including the Sydney, Berlin and Gwangju Biennials, and documenta X. She has had major solo exhibitions at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the ICA in Boston, MAC in Marseille and The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. A retrospective of her work has been shown at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto and the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf.

Van Warmerdam is a regular advisor at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam and Professor of Art at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe since 2004.

While providing mentorship to young artists she draws on her experience with the dynamics between sculpture, film, and photography. Her sculptural approach is characteristic of her work, a seamless follow-through from her beginnings as a sculptor.

The exhibition »Then, now, and then« will be accompanied by a publication, designed by Mevis en van Deursen. In the publication the sixteen films that capture Rome in a compelling tribute to this unique city of cinema by artist Marijke van Warmerdam, are accompanied by sixteen short notes by Dominic van den Boogerd.