JIKKE

LEVENSLANG

an exhibition about all of us - the prisoners of society

Exhibition Space

The  exhibition was held in a former school in East. Now the school is used as a creative space: Lokaal Lokaal. LEVENSLANG took place in the former bicycle cellar of the building. A dark, gray space whose feeling of space fits seamlessly with the theme of LEVENSLANG; the trapped feeling.

The story of LEVENSLANG is told through something we call 'the script'. The script is divided into four segments: an introduction to the script, the hidden script, flip the script and the public script. The exhibition space is divided in the same way. Each part of the story was translated into a spatial design.

Introduction (first space)


Introduction

We are living in a complex world. In order to feel control over the world, we constantly organize and categorize incoming information. As a consequence out of it, we create ideas about how the world should look like. Think about Christian Church creating the belief about sexual desire as morally wrong or the fashion world having a major influence on our ideal body image. Overtime these ideas gained so much power that they became the ‘norm’. You could see them as the building blocks of our society.

All these norms read together like a manual of life, rules about how we should live, a so-called hidden script. This hidden script is constantly reproduced and performed, in what we call the theatre of society, without us even noticing it. We are not aware that we reproduce scripts that no longer fits into the current zeitgeist. Nevertheless, we keep on judging the world based on these scripts for a sense of control and a feeling of safety. By doing this we create outcasts, people who don’t fit into our normative framework. But have we not all felt what it's like to be that fish? To have the feeling that we are not understood and that we are judged? 

That's why it's time for a change. Let’s take a critical look at our current script and let’s rewrite it!

The Hidden Script (second space)

Hidden Script

If you want to make a change, it starts by being aware of the system. Because when something isn’t visible, it doesn’t mean that it’s non-existing. The opposite is true, we are constantly surrounded by the system. Three of these systems are introduced to you in this space called 'hidden script'. 

Can you see what these objects have in common?

All around us are signs of the hidden script, the powerful ideas about how the world should look like - called ideologiesIt’s in the material, it's in our language, it's in our homes, it's everywhere.

The world is shaped by these impactful ideologies. Remember when we talked about sexual desires? This idea is closely connected to the idea of sex as a means of reproduction, which is resulting in a hetero-normative ideology. Because of this, people with different sexualities are still looked upon as being 'different'. Or our ideology about social status wherein the fake branded shoes are still putting you in the bottom rank of social hierarchy, the shaved armpits for women as a beauty standard or crying as a sign of weakness instead of an outlet of tension.

These ideas are not always visible, but constantly determine how we behave in the world.

Being aware of that system is a first step to free yourself from the pressure of society. Now let's move on to the second step! From how the world should look like to how it could look like.

Flip The Script (third space)

Ella Bril - contemporary artist

Miss Toto Rodgers - lens based artist

The Public Script (last space)

The Public Script

Do you remember our comparison of the ideas in our society as being building blocks? Imagine having a few of those blocks. You could create a tiny wall around you to preserve your space. But what if we construct even more building blocks? Building the most incredible stairs to give ourselves the experience of a wider view and at the same time contribute to a more diverse landscape.

It works the same way in our society. When we hear different views of the world we no longer get stuck in that old dusty script full of ideas about gender, sexuality, social classes or origins. We see possibilities and a completely different landscape. We see how the world could look like and who we could be.

The cubes need light to be seen, but it’s about how the cubes are positioned that determines the look of the physical surroundings. Now let’s imagine the installation in front of you is a micro version of society. The cubes are the people and the lights are constructs. Constructs fight their way into our systems, we carry them with us for a while and we express our ideas. But at the moment we carried them, something changed! We gave your own spin to the information. Do you remember the whisper games in school? A story is always changed by the storyteller! Just like that you have the power to change and adjust the construct, or not to release them at all. You are the processor of the ideologies and you decide how to use your light to alter our environment. You add your own unique set of colors to the world. Then, and only then, we can write a new script that fits our zeitgeist.

So fellow fish, would you like to show us your ocean?


Artists

We collaborate together with artists in our exhibition that are thematically relevant. The artists we work with are:

Lens based artist Miss Toto Rodgers 

Dancer and choreographer Eva Geia Huisman

Painter and contemporary artist Ella Bril


Context

Nowadays, 2021, there is an increase in knowledge and information available for the masses. This results in critical thinking. For the museum world this shows in reflections on making the museum experience more inclusive and approachable for people from different sides of society. On a more artistic level this results in a shift of institution-artist relationships. Being funded as an artist is incredibly hard by the increasing amount of artists and creatives. Besides, the cultural field is still not recognized in Western culture as an inevitable part of society. Hence the relatively low rates of subsidies for cultural organisations and institutions. As a result, as you see in Amsterdam, there is a huge amount of galleries. This creates a more dependent relation with the artist and effects the work by that. As a consequence, our exhibition is response to the current state of the field wherein we are producing and creating the content of our exhibition completely independent from institutions and we are financed by subsidies and crowdfunding.

Exhibition LEVENSLANG is a place where content and context are created as a natural flow out of research and societal situations. After observing the current societal hurdles in personal mental health and critical collective thinking, we decided to create a safe space for people to reflect on their personal wellbeing and give them tools to set themselves free. After a while, this will also pay off in societal ideologies that in the end keep on creating our worlds. An example of this is thinking about sexuality, where Christian throughs are still leading in heteronormative thinking. By visibility of the diversity in individual experiences of sexuality, the world will become less normative and more diverse. Concluding, LEVENSLANG is an exhibition in service of the societal needs and by that becomes an independent event made my two artist-curators - an initiative led in New York in the 1960s when artists started using temporary places for their practices and shows, creating an independency as much as possible to remain far away from the commercializing of art and artists.

LEVENSLANG is, because of this focus on the societal need, using art as a form of social practice. Socially engaged practice describes art that is collaborative, often participatory and involves people as the medium of the work. For us being socially engaged means that our art is in service of the societal situation and a medium to effect the individual. By using participatory installations we engage with the audience who we want to support in their needs.

Using multiple installations we create more so an environment, a spatial design. By making this in same sizes as the human body we try to create a bodily experience for the visitor. It is a unified experience, rather than a display of artworks. As Ilya Kabakov said: 'The main actor in the total installation, the main centre toward which everything is addressed, for which everything is intended, is the viewer'. This is an emerge out of environments created by artist around 1960's when sound and light started taking a more prominent place as well.

We collaborate together with artists in our exhibition that are thematically relevant. The artists we work with are:

Miss Toto Rodgers 

Eva Geia Huisman

Ella Bril

In our climactic part of the exhibition, we make use of light as our main focus. Just like the famous Group Zero - artist who focused on light and motion - we want to take the subjective out of the experience. By using the body of the visitor as the influencer of the work, and by that the creator, it makes it participatory art. The audience is directly engaged in the creative process so they become participants in the event. In our case, this means walking and being will right away immerse this situation.

By opening up the gates on our own terms, we create relational work that is not an object to look at, but an exhibition that is wholesomely in continuous dialogue with the artist and visitor. It broadens the perspective of what art is and when an artist becomes one. By working together with people who feel strongly about the societal content of the exhibition, the concept of art is renewed. It is now more so a medium that is an interdependent result of the content. Society and the art-world benefit from this independent approach. We practice what we preach, we don't stay in the borders of the expected and normative path with our form of exhibiting but reframe societies narrative and believe in the lesson we give people. We flip the script.

Funded by