19 October 2019 – 2 February 2020
Friday, 18 October 2019 at 7 pm
Access via Westfälischen Kunstverein, Rothenburg 30,
|Tuesday-Sunday, 11 am-7 pm
Esper Postma’s practice reflects the way that images 'travel' both through time and space, evolve and become reinterpreted depending on the respective context of their manifestation. As a result, they invariably reflect the prevailing opinions, beliefs and fashions of the given time in order to foster and develop them. Reinterpreting images and artefacts ranging from the Middle Ages to contemporary popular culture, his recent installations reveal connections between the politics of representation, past and present. For his exhibition “Salome”, Postma researched the holdings in the LWL-Museums für Kunst und Kultur's collection, more precisely in the depot, where exhibits that are not on show in the museum are stored. Postma looked chiefly at the sculptures that represent the human body (or parts thereof) and those which have survived only in a fragmentary condition.
One of the collection’s objects is the focal point of the exhibition “Salome”: a so-called Johannesschüssel (c. 1400) made of oak – a bowl containing the sculpted, severed head of John the Baptist. Objects of this kind were used generally in spiritual plays, such as performances of the Passion of St. John, and were therefore easy to transport, indeed, some of which could be dismantled. Esper Postma takes the biblical figure of John and the legend of Salome associated with it as the starting point for his exhibition, in which he examines the representational modes and parameters of this narrative and considers them over the centuries. The biblical story provides the background against which ideas about religion, gender roles and (sexual) morality were formulated in respective eras.
The video installation “Dance of the Seven Veils” is a montage of seven different films from the twentieth century that feature Salome’s dance in front of Herod. Some of the films rely on the original story in the Bible, while others are based on Oscar Wilde’s (1854-1900) controversial play “Salome” from 1891. Highly controversial at the time of its publication and even banned in England, Wilde changed the narrative to the effect that Salome falls in love with John, who rejects her brusquely. So her dance becomes a calculated act of revenge, in which she uses her sexuality to procure John the Baptist's head, which she then kisses.
The art historian Aby Warburg (1866-1929) used the term “Wanderung” to describe the way that symbols and images migrate between cultures in both time and space. Just as in the case of the genealogy of words, images carry memories of their predecessors and include both native and foreign forces. “Glossolalia” is a porcelain sculpture based on casts of Postma’s own neck. Glossolalia, or “speaking in tongues”, is the act of speaking a language that one has not previously learned, which in biblical stories was a sign of a divine, Pentecostal gift. The visceral structure appears to move through the gallery, splitting and joining, constituting a body that morphs, repeats and regenerates itself.
Esper Postma (b. 1988, Amsterdam) studied at Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and graduated in 2015 under Willem de Rooij from the Städelschule Frankfurt. He lives and works in Amsterdam and Berlin.
Curated by Jenni Henke and Marie Meeth.
Photos: LWL/Hanna Neander
„The Perils of Toto Koopman“
Friday, 13 December 2019 at 6 pm
RADAR is an exhibition format devised by the LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur and Westfälischer Kunstverein. Its aim is to showcase young, less well-known artists whose striking work puts them on the "radar". The works on show provide a glimpse into the work currently being undertaken by the featured artists.