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ART ROTTERDAM 2023 – 1 – Introduction & Galleries at Art Rotterdam fair – Part 1


John Devos, our correspondent for Belgium and the Netherlands has prepared for you this special edition dedicated to Art Rotterdam 2023. You will find multiple events, many galleries and more than 200 photos! G.D

By way of introduction – because it’s appropriate, and actually quite necessary…

Art Rotterdam Week is back on its original schedule for the first time, and the programme is overwhelming . One day visit is possible, but to have more time seems like a wise decision.

You can find the full programme -may be the most complete programme for now at this location:

because knowing the Netherlands and Rotterdam, there will probably still be an “Off”, “Wild”, spontaneous initiative programmed elsewhere. Also handy is the map you’ll find on this site.


Van Nelle & ART Rotterdam fair

The first venue is the Van Nelle factory and surroundings, once voted the “most beautiful factory in the world” and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed in International Style, an offshoot of Constructivism/Functionalism between 1925-1931. The building alone is worth seeing, it hosts the ART Rotterdam Fair, one of the most (or the most?) important art fairs in the Netherlands. More than 100 galleries show their best in an area of over 10,000m2, with the ‘Sculpture Park’ outside and the Prospect exhibition, where young talents have the opportunity to show their work. (images 1-6)

Not really a photography fair, but well-known galleries from the world of photography are present (Binome, Ravestijn, Annet Gelink, Bildhalle, O’Breen to name but a few) and an impressive list of names of photographers. I’m already looking out for classics like Ed van der Elsken, Albaran Cabrera & Max Pinckers – and certainly also lesser-known figures like Vytautas Kumza or Jenna Westra.

We take a closer look at everything the ART Rotterdam fair has to offer in today’s contributions 1-3. It is not a complete overview, but the result of a dialogue with the galleries.

Keile & Haka, Haute Photographie & OBJECT

Second quarter: the Merwe-, Keile-, Nieuw-Mathenesse or Vierhavens- area, different names for one location. Here we are seduced by all the beauty Haute Photographie has to offer. You will read more in contributions 4 & 5, but already a few names: Albert Watson, Schilte & Portielje or Jonas Bjerre Poulson. And young talent such as Kevin Osepa, Sara Punt & Sam Warnaar.

But that’s not all: the Haka building is the heart the neighbourhood . Built in 1931 as a commercial building with grain silo and garage. It was erected on behalf of the ‘Coöperatieve Groothandelsvereniging De Handelskamer’ (HAKA) and was designed by architects Mertens and Koeman, but I can’t help but draw comparisons with Robert Mallet-Steven. The Haka looks like an enlarged villa Cavrois!

The Haka is the venue for the design fair OBJECT, an annual rendezvous for lovers of the beautifully designed… object from the fields of design, interiors, fashion and art. The striking trend of this edition is the focus on craftsmanship and handicrafts. The organisers are again filling five floors in this immense building! (images 7-8)

Museumpark & Kop van Zuid, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Kunsthal & Rotterdam Photo 2023.

Photography enthusiasts are surely familiar with the Nederlands Fotomuseum on Kop van Zuid – with a fine permanent collection and changing exhibitions, it is a compulsory visit if you are in Rotterdam. Today it is running a very gripping & topical exhibition: Siberian Exiles by Claudia Heinermann. It tells the story of Baltic testimonies of Soviet oppression in the region of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. You can read more about this exhibition and the museum in contribution 6.

Having visited the exhibitions there, take a walk inside to the magnificent Holland America Line building at the very end of Kop van Zuid. A beautiful building with Art Nouveau influences from 1901. The bar and bistro is nice, that the least you can say!

In the same neighbourhood but on the other side of the river you’ll find the Kunsthal. In contribution 6 I will return extensively to the exhibitions of e.g. Cimen & Berkheimer, but as it is not about photography I did not mention A Women’s Palette 1900-50, and this one is also more than worthwhile!

Near the Erasmus Bridge you will find RotterdamPhoto, an initiative where young international photography in particular finds a place. You can read more about it in contribution 7

And finally for this area, a new initiative in Rotterdam that almost escaped my attention… In Rotterdam’s Museum Quarter, at Westersingel 101, you will find the House of Photography (HVDF): a meeting place for professional photographers, image-makers and art lovers. It is a place where nothing is mandatory but where a lot is possible, for and by photographers. It is the niche between academies, museums and galleries. They offer from 09.02.2023 till 12.02.2023 the exhibition BLACK SANDS

It showcases the narrative biases and views of photographers Vivian Ammerlaan, Julia Pelealu, Sabine van der Vooren, Anne Diertens and Alida van Gool. A collective music list, highlighted by Bonobo’s ‘Black Sands’ of the same name, has been the starting point and shared inspiration to work from.

A seven-minute melancholic and wistful waltz on the one hand with an uplifting and peaceful melody gradually building up on the other. Wave after wave. Is it an ebb and flow of tides? The black sand changes its composition again and again, due to storms or lulls causing precious metals to meld. We traverse the tide line to encounter life. There we explore the ‘sand’ under our feet and around us, touching our soul-stirrings and deepest desires. Our lookout over the land, our world, and that which we may witness with our own eyes. The exhibition BLACK SANDS is open: tomorrow February 9th from 18:00 – 21:00, Friday till Sunday 10:00 – 19:00 (image 9)

Or… just stroll

But ultimately, you can also just enjoy yourself by wandering through Rotterdam – the city was pretty much completely destroyed in World War II – just like Dresden, Coventry, Le Havre, Hiroshima… For Rotterdam, it was the beginning of a new dynamic – it was rebuilt with a radical vision. Just look up the Market Hall, or the Erasmus Bridge, or SAWA a building that stores CO2…. Today I take a moment to highlight the Cube Houses – a bold design from 1984. And yes people live in these houses, there is even a youth hostel! Imagine experiencing a sense of disorientation –image 10

No this is not a complete overview: I said nothing about the Boijmans van Beuningen Depot, the offer of shuttle transport, and more – but I hope to have convinced you to come to this edition of Rotterdam Art Week, and if you can’t go now invite you to look forward to the next edition already.


ART Rotterdam – the galleries:

ROOF-A – Frank van der Salm (Dutch 1964)
(Images 11-13)

Learning to see possible cities

After a few seconds it happens. Your eyes are fixed, searching for a hidden trace that tells you what’s wrong here. Your mind zips through an archive of images, trying to use comparison to decipher what is happening before your eyes. You could also call it the entrance to what the artist makes possible. The revelation of images that is in and around us, as inhabitants of the cities of the world. The images shown by Van der Salm are powerful and imposing. Often, but not always, because of their size, and especially because of their frontal and challenging visual style. The way in which this artist provokes the search for a freer perception is implicit and poetic, but also overwhelming.

Westplein 9-B
3016 BM Rotterdam
The Netherlands
+31 (0)6 473 660 76


Annet Gelink Gallery – Ed van der Elsken (The Netherlands 1925-1990) (Images 14-16)

Ed van der Elsken, enfant terrible of Dutch photography, captured his encounters with people in photographs, photo books and films for more than 40 years. He started photographing in the late 1940s, so his photography spans the period from World War II to the 1970s. His images from this era capture, among other things, life in ‘his Amsterdam’ – a post-war era full of rebellious youths on mopeds, small uprisings harshly put down by cops on horseback and snow on the city’s ruined roofs.

But Ed also photographed markets, fairgrounds and girls who caught his eye. Although at first glance Van der Elsken’s work appears to be documentary photography, he had a subjective style in which reality and imagination intermingled.  He also photographed imitated or created realities such as dioramas, wax figures, and posters, in which one may, at times, discover a social critical view

Annet Gelink Gallery
Laurierstraat 187-189
NL-1016PL Amsterdam
tel: +31 20 3302066


ASPN Gallery Katarína Dubovská (1989, Slovakia)( images 17-19)

The starting point of Katarína Dubovská’s artistic practice is her personal (digital) image archive.  This is constantly expanding and shared daily via social media channels, she is constantly expanding generated floods of images. By experimenting with processes as well as the dissolution and reshaping of image material by means of hybrid processes developed in-house, it is artistically explored in a variety of ways. Again and again she detaches herself of her post-photographic practice and the referential function of photography and pursues a conceptual and sculptural approach to the medium.

Pictorial elements are extracted, dissected, disintegrated, dissolved, liquefied, inks are extracted, the material is examined by means of haptic, technological and discursive confrontations and brought into new forms. From something that already exists, a breeding ground is created for new formations, compositions and perspectives. Katarína Dubovská thus not only raises media-reflexive questions regarding a post photographic practice, but also negotiates questions about a more sustainable artistic production and circulating resources. With her works, Katarína Dubovská challenges us to break free from the law and asks what new realities and (social) designs we can and want to model.

Spinnereistr. 7
04179 Leipzig
+49(0)341-960 00-31


Bildhalle: Albarrán & Cabrera, Margaret Lansink, Mika Horie, Miriam Tölke

Albarrán & Cabrera (Spain 1969 & 1969) (images 20-22)

Angel Albarrán and Anna Cabrera have worked collaboratively as art photographers since 1996. A rich inner philosophy about memory and experience, and a special curiosity for photographic chemistry guide their aesthetic practice. Influenced by both occidental and oriental thinkers and artists, their photographs question our assumptions of time, place and identity in order to stimulate a new understanding of our own experience and perception. For the artists, “being conscious of our surroundings isn’t just an important part of life – our surroundings and how we interpret them is life as we know it.”

Margaret Lansink (The Netherlands 1961)(images 23-24)

Lansink’s work is created around a strong signature of aesthetic, poetic and slightly minimalistic images, all able to convey a powerful emotional message. This is substantiated by her usage of intuitive photography, creating imagery that presents an open and honest reflection of her emotions, doubts, reflections or struggles in life. Shot as ‘self-portraits’ in the broadest sense of the concept, they reveal her inner emotions at a certain time, space and interaction. With this uniquely recognisable style, her approachable images gently invite the viewer to embark on a journey through her own intricate web of memories, emotions, expectations, fears and/or desires. In this way her images build an overflow from the physical to the metaphorical and vice versa.

Mika Horie (Japan 1984)(images 25-27)

The photographic work of Mika Horie taps into sources of alternative printing techniques going back to the earliest days of photography. She focuses on paper making and cyanotype printing, which was developed in 1842 and became popular as a low-cost reproduction technique for drawings, also known as blueprinting. Soon after it was invented the English botanist and photobook pioneer Anna Atkins (1799-1871) used the process to make contact prints of British algae.

Horie’s way of printmaking is sustainable, from the laborious custom paper production to the imprint of images. Whenever she disapproves of a photograph, she can return it to the natural surroundings from where its material components originate. In 2013 Horie moved into a mountain house in Ishikawa Prefecture, her studio is surrounded by forests and freshwater springs. From the bark of the gampi trees surrounding her home, Horie harvests the fibers which she then turns into pulp and paper. She takes the water needed for paper production from a nearby river stream.

Miriam Tölke (Germany 1977)(images 28-30)

Miriam Tölke was born 1977 in Bielefeld. She completed her painting studies at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart in 2000 and moved to Berlin. Already in her time in Stuttgart, she began to collect discarded things: magazines, notebooks, books, catalogs. Papers that were deemed useless by others, but for her had incredible value. A treasure hunt in the city, which she continued in Berlin. She assembles images from magazines with found objects, scraps of paper or fragments from her accumulated picture archives. In this analog process, she collects, explores, and observes, placing her findings strikingly and minimalistically into a new context.

Willemsparkweg 134H
NL-1071 HR Amsterdam
+31 20 808 88 05
Hazenstraat 15H
NL-1016 SM Amsterdam
+31 20 241 47 48

John Devos

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