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On Mobility
Group Exhibition De Appel, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Date: 2006

Artists: XU Zhen 徐震 | 

This summer De Appel in Amsterdam shows the last stop of On Mobility, a series of exhibitions realized with the cooperation of European contemporary art institutions in Central and Eastern Europe, initiated by Saskia Bos, former director of De Appel.

On Mobility is an ever-changing collection of works by artists that are concerned about recent developments in society. In their work migration and mobility, assimilation and translation, are key issues. They examine and analyse these issues in unconventional and imaginative ways, as demonstrated by two examples chosen from the projects shown in the venue at the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat in Amsterdam.

The act of crossing the border from Mexico into the US is known as ‘brinco’, jump in Spanish. Judi Werthein’s ‘crossing trainers’ prepare illegal migrants for this journey. The shoes include useful items such as a compass and a torch, as most of the migrants cross at night. Inside are painkillers, as many suffer aches and injuries during the journey, pockets for money and the insole features a map of the most popular border crossing points for illegal immigrants between Tijuana and San Diego. Embroidered on the heel is an image of Santo Toribo Romo, the official saint of the Mexican migrants, and on the front of the toe in the direction of their dreams is the American eagle.

To comment on the contradictions between fashion, manufacture competition, migration and labour flow, Werthein’s sneakers have been sold as unique art objects at the American side of the border. At the Mexican side they were freely distributed amongst would-be illegal immigrants. The project caused a great deal of controversy in the United States. Werthein was invited for many news and talk shows, but she also received a lot of hate mail. Documentation of press coverage and webforums is included in the exhibition. In De Appel Judi Werthein also realises a Brincoshop.

On August 26, the auctioneer of Christie’s Amsterdam will bring the sneakers under the hammer (location De Appel). The profits will go to Casa del Migrante and Casa Madre Asunta, two shelters for migrants in Tijuana.

Inspired by a study trip to India, where the farmers collect, improve and breed the seeds of local rices, cereals and beans, Asa Sonjasdotter wanted to transfer her experience into the regional conditions in Scandinavia, starting out with farming one of the most common local staple foods; the potato. She planted some traditional varieties, but soon she found out that these old potatoes have a complex story to tell.

In the ongoing project A Potato Perspective, Sonjasdotter explores different aspects of potato, from the cultural historical aspects of potato consumption, to those problems that arise from the regulation of agricultural production and trading, including the fact that when farming old traditional varieties, one can easily break the law, even unwittingly.

At De Appel’s roof garden, Sonjasdotter grows a series of traditional potatoes. On August 26 there will be a harvesting event and the public can taste the potato varieties that grew in De Appel.

Presentation: July 14, 2006 during the opening of the exhibition, 7 pm

Travelling and mobility are recurring themes in the work of Dirk van Weelden (1957). In the essay he wrote for the On Mobility catalogue Van Weelden re-enacts 16th century rascal Tyl Uilenspiegel like an artist whose work he encountered during his travels to the exhibitions in Amsterdam, Berlin, Vilnius and Budapest. Van Weelden questions their balancing between artistic, individual freedom and social engagement. In his search for playful metaphors he is the fellow traveller of the reader and hands the essential luggage on this ongoing mental journey in a 21st century parable.

The On Mobility catalogue contains images of the work of all 21 participating artists: Tiong Ang, Bik Van der Pol, Castro / Olafsson, Banu Cennetoglu, Miklos Erhardt, Alicia Framis, Yona Friedman, Patricija JurkSaityte, Leopold Kessler, Andrew Miksys, Multiplicity, Marjetica Potrc, Tomas Saraceno, Tomo Savic-Gecan, Asa Sonjasdotter, Sean Snyder, Nasrin Tabatabai, Patrick Tuttofuoco, Javier Tellez, Judi Werthein and Xu Zhen.

Design: Annelys de Vet / Marijke Cobbenhagen.
Paperback, 16,5 x 22 cm, 168 pp.
ISBN: 90-73501-67-9, Price: € 20,- excl. mailing costs.
Ordering information:

On Mobility travelled with a varying group of artists through Europe

Aug 2005 De Appel, Amsterdam
Nov 2005 BueroFriedrich, Berlin
Feb 2006 CAC, Vilnius
May 2006 Trafo – House of Contemporary Arts / Studio Galeria, Mucsarnok, Budapest
Jul 2006 De Appel, Amsterdam

This project is supported by the Culture 2000 programme of the European Union and the Netherlands Culture Fund (HGIS-Cultuurprogramma).

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