Group Exhibition: Dark Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The darker side of existence exercises an almost irresistible attraction on society. This fascination is the theme of the international group exhibition DARK, assembled by guest curator Jan Grosfeld and Rein Wolfs. DARK is a presentation of recent developments within contemporary art; a confrontation of differing contemporary artistic visions. The exhibition in the atmospheric spaces of the museum's Van der Steur wing includes work by Luc Tuymans, Marc Bijl, Rita Ackermann, Banks Violette, Angus Fairhurst, Folkert de Jong, Dirk Braeckman, Terence Koh, Avner Ben-Gal and Kara Walker.

Common to each work in the show is an interest in the 'darker' side of life. However, DARK is more than simply 'dim' or 'unlit'. Rather it refers to a particular contemporary state of mind, with a complex of different and sometimes antithetical aspects. DARK is sometimes melancholy, music can play a role, but often does not. Indeed sometimes DARK is actually is even simply radiant white, as in the obsessive 'white powder' installations by Terence Koh.

Impure spaces
Contemporary art is usually presented in so-called 'white cube' spaces, or indeed 'black boxes' for video projections. However, DARK manifests itself in the more 'impure' spaces where the old masters are normally displayed. These galleries are especially appropriate to a project that deals with impurity, with the 'anti-pure'. A contemporary impurity comes to life against the backdrop of its historical counterpart.

A darker state of mind
Luc Tuymans expresses DARK's 'state of mind' through his oppressive images and specific subject choices, whilst Marc Bijl has a sort of rebellious Gothic stance. Terence Koh employs the decadence of gold leaf and 'white powder'. Banks Violette researches the underbelly of American culture with clinical precision. A soundtrack of electronic music brings the visitor back to the present day. This is the authenticity of an artist who understands that today successful sampling must come with a healthy dollop of intelligence. Romanticism is at the heart of Angus Fairhurst's work. A glossy pitch-black gorilla, contemplating itself like an Ur-Narcissus, is an icon of impudent and animalistic subjectivity, which is more than at home in our ego age.

Dirk Braeckman's black on black images eloquently represent the DARK 'state of mind' as does the mysterious concealed aggression of Rita Ackermann and Rachel Harrison. Folkert de Jong explores the darker side of American society, as does Georg Gatsas, whose 'court photography' illuminates the grimy New York cultural scene. In her black silhouettes Kara Walker takes on themes such as race, gender and sexuality. Daniel Hesidence voices the DARK mentality with a Munch-like scream, Avner Ben-Gal with a darker implicit narrative and Jan Lauwers with a painful theatricality. The shameless advertising aesthetic employed by Fumie Sasabuchi is sometimes shocking, much like the bestial narcissism in the work of Angus Fairhurst. Juergen Teller is in search of a singular icon in his son's birth announcement.

Now and then one can find stylistic and formal relations between the works but these are not the dominant concern. Content, emotion and authentic values play a more important role here. DARK is an exhibition that elucidates the current zeitgeist and creates a forum for a new, contemporary form of authenticity.

Participating artists:
Rita Ackermann (1968, Budapest, H)
Avner Ben-Gal (1966, Askalon, I)
Marc Bijl (1970, Leerdam, NL)
Dirk Braeckman (1958, Eeklo, B)
Angus Fairhurst (1966, Kent, UK)
Georg Gatsas (1978, Grabs SG, CH)
Gregory Crewdson (1962, Brooklyn NY, USA)
Rachel Harrison (1966, New York, USA)
Daniel Hesidence (1975, Ohio NY, USA)
Folkert de Jong (1972, Alkmaar, NL)
Terence Koh (1977, Beijing, China)
Jan Lauwers (1957, Antwerp, B)
Fumie Sasabuchi (1975, Tokyo, J)
Juergen Teller (1964, Erlangen, D)
Luc Tuymans (1958, Mortsel, B)
Banks Violette (1973, Ithaca NY, USA)
Kara Walker (1969, Stockton CA, USA)

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museumpark 18-20
3015 CX Rotterdam the Netherlands