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#31 History as a medium

Speaking: Risk Hazekamp

It all started with a fairytale about the Olympics in 1968. Installation in the exhibition of Risk Hazekamp in 2018

In 2018 Galerie Pennings moved from a space of 100 m² to a space of 700 m². Not every artist has the intention to fill such a large space with a solo exhibition or is able to do so. Risk Hazekamp did. During the holiday closure of Gallery Pennings in the summer of 2018, Risk spent several weeks in the gallery as a kind of artist-in-residence to realize the exhibition 'Social Dissolution of the West'.

In September-October 2018, Risk Hazekamp had a large solo exhibition in, at that time, Galerie Pennings. Since Risk teaches at AKV|St.Joost, there was only time during the holiday period to build up the exhibition. That turned out to be possible. The gallery was closed in August. As a kind of artist-in-residence (the first one!), Risk lived and worked for weeks in the new space of Galerie Pennings. "That was something unique. You don’t often get such an opportunity."

At the opening Edo Dijksterhuis (l) interviewed Risk Hazekamp (r). photo Uwe Schwarze

Years ago Risk Hazekamp had met Harry Pennings at Paris Photo. Contact with the gallery will have been through Wiesje Peels (see blog 19) or Theo Derksen (see blog 15). From 2010 to 2014, Risk taught at the Academie Beeldende Kunsten Maastricht, in the photography and audiovisual design department where Theo Derksen worked as a coordinator at the time. Once there were portfolio reviews, Risk got to know Petra Cardinaal when asked by Theo Derksen as a reviewer.

“I immediately had a click with Petra. She is nice! Whether you're on the same level of understanding is more important than just a good place to exhibit. Sometimes someone is recommended and then you can’t get along with that person.”

Risk Hazekamp became well known for photography with a gender theme. That was successful, but Risk wanted to do something else. Petra was in contact several times and Petra also visited Risk's studio in The Hague. There the research results of a three-month stay in Mexico City in 2013 was shown, which was to be a major project. Petra selected artists-photographers for the first exhibition PREVIEW in the new building, people she wanted to work with in the coming years and who would get a solo exhibition after PREVIEW.

Archive and letter mentioning the bloody repression of the student uprising. photo Risk Hazekamp

During PREVIEW, from mid-April to late May 2018, Risk showed a black and white photo of an archive in Mexico City. The photo itself did not reveal anything. That made me curious about the big project. In a video shot during PREVIEW, Risk says: "What fascinates me is how it is that we accept images so easily and at the same time we do not in any way train children to think about what images actually tell us."

Cyanotype on canvas of a female jumper. On the left a falling athlete who you could also interpret as a shot student within in the context of the exhibition. photo Risk hazekamp

Mexico City was the place where Risk's uncle and aunt in 1968 got to know each other as young athletes when they both competed in the Olympics. He as the rower of the Holland Eight, she as a jumper. Risk grew up with this fairy tale, but later the student uprisings in 1968, which also took place in Mexico City, were added.

Ten days before the opening of the Olympics, one of the most tragic events in Mexico's history took place, ‘la Noche de Tlatelolco’. This massacre in the Tlatelolco district was commissioned by the state. To date it is not clear how many students, demonstrating citizens and casual passers-by died. Estimates run into the hundreds. The official files remain closed.

View in the exhibition with the logo of the Olympic Games on the columns. photo Risk Hazekamp

During PREVIEW, a framed letter hung next to the photo of the archive. It was a letter Risk's uncle received in Mexico from his older brother from Eindhoven, wondering whether it was justified for his brother to participate in the grand opening, as if nothing had happened. So someone in Eindhoven had heard about the student uprising that had been brutally crushed, but hardly anything had come out about it in the local media in Mexico.

The exhibition became one large installation, in which both storylines intertwined.

All was made by Risk, with the dedicated help of some close friends. An extra wall was built in the gallery (it is still there!). Murals were made. Pedestals were built to display documentation material. Even an extra column was built, because at the entrance 5 columns were needed to store the 5 rings of the Olympics logo. Risk regularly helps to build exhibitions in the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, so that explains where these skills come from.

Risk built an extra wall to make this mural. photo Risk Hazekamp

“Everything has been painted in Mexico, including commercials. That is how I came up with the idea to also apply painting in my exhibition. For this I enlisted the help of artists. Desiree Palmen, who I knew from my studies at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, and Minette Dreier, who I knew from the period that I lived and worked in Berlin.”

“I have literally and figuratively been given all the space at Pennings that you can only dream of as an artist. Petra is perfect in this, she is very flexible and she is great in thinking along in a project. During the construction we were given complete freedom. It was summer. We were very focused at work. And then late at night a beer, an olive, with Desiree or Minette. I couldn't have made this exhibition anywhere else.”

Risk also built display cabinets to show documentation. photo Risk Hazekamp

Risk was therefore not only an artist, but also a curator. Not everyone can work that way.

Petra: “We leave it up to the artist how he or she wants to realize the exhibition. That's the way it is here.”

But Risk is also realistic: "I don't do anything I can't make."

Petra: “An artist makes a choice about the presentation. We leave the artist free in this. The consequence is that the works of art not easily sell. But that also applies to a number of other artists who exhibit at Pennings.”

The title ‘Social Dissolution of the West’ refers to a third storyline, to de-colonial thinking. In the exhibition, Risk had painted a mural of the route the Olympic Torch traveled in 1968 from Olympia in Greece to Mexico City. At the time, this route was set up as a homage to Columbus, something that would now be interpreted as colonizing Mexico again. This de-colonial line of thought was effectively translated into an image: the map from Europe to Mexico was mirrored, so that the route suddenly went the other way. That misled visitors. Funny to see that many visitors saw that something was wrong, but they could not immediately indicate what.

During the Visual Thinking Strategies workshop for members of DuPho, a double image of Risk Hazekamp (l) from the exhibition was used. photo Astrid House

Risk Hazekamp (The Hague, 1972) graduated from the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam in 1995, then followed a post-graduate at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht (1995-1997) and is now following the Advanced Master in Artistic Research in a Social-Political Context at St. Lucas School of Arts in Antwerp. Risk taught at the Academie Beeldende Kunsten Maastricht and teaches at AKV|St. Joost in Breda since 2015.

Explore the exhibition by Google Street View:

See the review in Metropolis M

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