Museum het Valkhof Nijmegen. 18 July – 3 September 2017. Curated by Isabelle Bisseling.
I have been working at the Valkhof Museum in Nijmegen for almost two years now and over the years I have seen many exhibitions come and go. It’s only every once in a while that one of these particularly catches my eye. The small solo-exhibition ‘Matter of Existence’ by Nijmegen-born artist Simone Albers (1990) is one of them. The project is a collaboration between the museum and Derde Wal, a collective for contemporary art.
Curator Isabelle Bisseling saw a shift in Albers’ way of presenting her artworks: she started to make use of the full room and no longer chooses to only hang her work on the walls. Bisseling invited Albers to make an installation in the atrium room of the Valkhof Museum to experiment with a new way of presenting art.
‘Matter of Existence’ is a very interesting project from a curatorial point of view that appeals to my own taste. First, I’m intrigued by the fact that the project is curated by a young curator and a young artist. It’s inspiring to see young people in the art world creating such wonderful exhibitions. Secondly, it’s not just the curator that has a say in the way the artworks are presented, which tends to be the standard in the artworld. She basically gives the artist the reigns to take matter into her own hands, but it is more than just the concept of ‘the artist as a curator’: it is a special collaboration between these two parties. Too often you see that either one of these has the upper hand, but a project with the aim to bring these two together is something I haven’t seen much and it intruiges me. Albers’ way of displaying her artworks in the room, all part of the installation ‘Matter of Existence’, aims to provoke a more direct confrontation with the visitor: ‘One will feel small in the grandness of the universe, but will also realise that even the smallest particles are a vital part in the grand scheme.’
Simone Albers’ works are an aesthetic commentary on scientific research. She has investigated natural phenomena and scientific theories about the universe, the evolution of the earth and the processes that play a part in this. She tries to comprehend the complexity of existence to look for the mechanisms that hide behind what’s visible, whether this is microscopically small or incomprehendably large. In the installation on show in the Valkhof Museum, several existing works are brought together with new work that were created for this room and exhibition. What’s particularly wonderful about this exhibition is the fact that it looks very complex at first, but when you take the time to literally walk through the exhibition, Albers’ way of thinking becomes clearer and clearer. You can see how she tried to materialise her thoughts into her artwork, how to give ‘matter’ to the concept of ‘existence’, which explains the title too. In addition to that, the project is also a very aesthetically pleasing presentation. It’s colourful, bold, interesting and there’s plenty to see. It’s like you’re able to walk through Albers’ mind that tries to grasp the concept of nature, physics and existence. This makes the exhibition a true joy to not only watch, but to fully experience.
http://simonealbers.com/ // All pictures by the author.