Sowing and Weeding, Folk Culture and Contemporary Art

A quick post about Sowing and Weeding, Folk Culture and Contemporary Art at the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen, a short tram ride from Amsterdam.

The exhibition explores how contemporary art relates to and comments on local traditions, regional customs and symbols from folk culture. Whether the artists point the finger at the loss of traditions and the commercialization of folk culture or play with the elastic boundaries that separate ‘high’ from ‘low’, what their work made me realize is that nowadays most of my/our contacts with folk culture take place in the polished context of an art gallery or a museum.

Aurelia_Mihai.jpgAurelia Mihai, Transhumanta, 2007

The video Transhumanta by Aurelia Mihai illustrates this point quite clearly. The work reflects on the transumanza), a traditional method of sheep rearing that is part of the cultural identity of many European peoples. Nevertheless, the practice has been banned by new EU laws on animal transport.

The video transplants the movement of a flock of sheep to the present day. We see the sheep passing through the German town of Goch. The journey ends in the museum, referring metaphorically to the status of folk culture.

The show closed yesterday but the main reason why i wanted to get it online is that it gives me a rather flimsy excuse to post yet again Helmut Stallaerts’s Es Spukt photos. Because, you know, it’s my blog and i will bore you with the same stories over and over again if i want to.

0Es_Spukt_02_2005_250x180_richtigb_zoom.jpgHelmut Stallaerts, Es Spukt, 2005

So far however, i didn’t know anything about the autobiographical background behind Es Spukt. In Oberstdorf, a town in the German region Stallaerts’ mother comes from, young men come together every 6th of December. They wear furs, leather, animal heads and hoods with deer antlers. They come accompanied by the rattle and clatter of bells and kettles. This series of photos was created when the artist participated in the custom, which aim is to drive out evil spirits.

6esspukt84_abc4809daa.jpgHelmut Stallaerts, Es Spukt, 2005 (view of the exhibition space)

01Es_Spukt_03_2005_250x180_richtigb_zoom.jpgHelmut Stallaerts, Es Spukt, 2005

stallaerts_es_943.jpgHelmut Stallaerts, Es Spukt, 2005

More images from the show:

0000000920.jpgBritta Jonas, Tänzer, 2008

6tanzdeta97363ac32.jpgBritta Jonas, Tänzer, 2008 (detail)

6elf2a9941.jpgSteingrimur Eyfjörd, The Elf Shoes, 2007

WiebkeSiem-390.jpgWiebke Siem, Untitled, 2001

Related: Parking Lot Hydra.