Wendelien van Oldenborgh Will Represent Holland at the 2017 Venice Biennale

Her film works explore socio-political tensions in Dutch society.

Wendelien van Oldenborgh. Courtesy Dutch Art Institute

The Mondriaan Fund announced today that the presentation “Cinema Olanda” by artist Wendelien van Oldenborgh (1962) and curator Lucy Cotter (1973) has been chosen to represent the Netherlands at the 57th Venice Biennale, taking place in 2017.

The jury selected van Oldenburgh and Cotter’s proposal from a list of finalists that also included Renzo Martens, Jennifer Tee, Erik van Lieshout, and Melanie Bonajo.

In her work, Rotterdam-based artist and filmmaker van Oldenburgh focuses on the intricacy of social relations as manifested through gestures in the public sphere. Her proposal for the Venice Biennale was chosen for its high-quality and relevance to the current social tensions palpable in Europe in general and the Netherlands in particular.

The artist will create three new films for the the Dutch Rietveld Pavilion in Venice that will explore underexposed chapters of recent Dutch post-colonial history, which van Oldenborgh proposes as key in the development of a new national self-image.

The films’ narrative take place in the Rotterdam district of Pendrecht, and weaves the story of Surinam-born political activist Otto Huiswoud, regarded as the first black member of the American Communist Movement, and Surinamese activists who squatted parts of Rotterdam in the 1970s.

Wendelien van Oldenborgh, From Left To Night, (2015) Film still. Courtesy the Mondriaan Fund.

Wendelien van Oldenborgh, From Left To Night, (2015)
Film still. Courtesy the Mondriaan Fund.

“I am speechless. It is an honor, a pleasure, and a huge responsibility,” Oldenborgh said in a statement. “This is a wonderful time to share the current transformations in Dutch society with an international audience,” she added.

The jury, presided by Mondriaan fund director Birgit Donker, consisted of curator Lorenzo Benedetti (whose dismissal from De Appel last year shook the Dutch art world), MAMA director Nathalie Hartjes, artist Aernout Mik, and curator Miriam West.

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