The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam presents Recent Ouija, the first solo exhibition of British artist Ed Atkins in the Netherlands. The 1100-square-meter lower-level gallery in the new wing will be transformed into an immersive environment of monumental operatic videos, collages and drawings.
Ed Atkins (Oxford, 1982) is one of the most talked-about artists of his generation. He is among the vanguard of the “digital natives” who grew up with online technology and for whom it is second nature. In his practice, Atkins makes extensive use of cutting edge digital technologies of production and display: High Definition computer generated imagery, surround soundtracking and extensive digital compositing. For him, the vast contemporary digital toolkit begins with his laptop: their integration is fundamental to the subverting of video art and its installation that goes on within his work.
Beatrix Ruf, director of the Stedelijk Museum says, “When I first saw Ed Atkins’ work it immediately struck me. I think he is one of the most interesting artists of his generation and I am very proud to be able to present the first exhibition of his work in the Netherlands. With his work, Atkins explores the virtuality of our contemporary visual world and its profound effect on the reality of our embodied lives. His high-definition videos and powerful sound-tracks address existential questions about how love, sex, death, and relationships are experienced in the face of digital abstraction. Atkins’ video works are digital performances, as it is the artist’s voice and movement animating the digital world. In these videos, as well as in his collages and drawings, Atkins is asking for the paradoxical capacity of media to let our material lives be present in a progressively dematerialized world.”
Atkins’ way of working dovetails seamlessly with the world of video games and the myriad virtual societies made marketable by the venerable Second Life, in which one plays via an avatar who may more or less manifest your fantasy of identity. Atkins’ videos are performed through motion capture, 3D animation and compositing software. Heavy, conspicuous post-production and dense sound and musical compositions create a fluid and compelling rhythmic montage within the work.
Atkins’ videoworks engage not only with each other but also with the space in which they appear. His work investigates the impact of a hyperreal virtual world on the viewer’s physical, tangible reality, inviting us to question our relationship with the digitalized, technocratic information culture that we inhabit; a world in which the realism of its representation is paramount.
This exhibition, which is on view parallel with the survey of Tino Sehgal, captures another level of what we consider “live” and represents the artistic approach of new director Beatrix Ruf for the Stedelijk to ask questions about contemporaneity through exhibitions and displays of artistic visions.
Ed Atkins is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential digital artists of his generation and has exhibited in international exhibitions including Tate Britain (2011), MoMA PS1 (2013), the Kunsthalle Zürich and the Serpentine Galleries London (2014). This year, one of Atkins’ videos was presented in the Netherlands at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and in the group exhibition Superficial Hygiene at De Hallen, Haarlem.
The exhibition is curated by Beatrix Ruf and Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen.