Global Imaginations. The Meelfabriek, Leiden

Meelfabriek 01

I went to the exhibition Global Imaginations in the Meelfabriek (the Flour Mill) in Leiden to write a review for the Villa La Repubblica blog. You can read the review Metafoor voor de wereld here (in Dutch). It is rare in the Netherlands to have an international show like this in the first place, let alone in a monumental but run down venue which will be redeveloped soon. So the combination is unique. The exhibition was organized to celebrate the 440th anniversary of Leiden University under the auspices of the Lakenhal Museum. Let me take you on a tour.

Meelfabriek 02 Ghana Thinktank

The show starts just round the corner with a shack with calls for international tolerance and international advice for the Netherlands and its problems, generally caused by its affluence.

Meelfabriek 03 Ghana Thinktank
Meelfabriek 04 Ghana Thinktank

The project was accomplished by the Ghana Thinktank from the United States. It aims to advise the “first world” by common people from the “third world.”

Meelfabriek 05 Chen Zhen
Meelfabriek 06 Chen Zhen

In the open air are the late Chen Zhen’s Back to Fullness, Face to Emptiness – with chairs looking outward, with their backs to an excerpt of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man – and

Meelfabriek 07 Brook Andrew
Meelfabriek 08 Brook Andrew
Meelfabriek 09 Brook Andrew

Australian Brook Andrew’s Jumping Castle War Memorial, a kind of contemporary danse macabre, both great international monuments of our time.

Meelfabriek 10

In the former cleaning space

Meelfabriek 11 Rivane Neuenschwander

of the mill two interesting video’s by Brazilian Rivane Neuenschwander are on show, in one of which ants are eating the continents made of honey.

Meelfabriek 12
Meelfabriek 13

On my way to the former boiler house, a multi-storey building.

Meelfabriek 14 Mark Dion
Meelfabriek 15 Mark Dion

In its ground floor are American Mark Dion’s train of 3D prints of originals from the Leiden Museum of Natural History Naturalis, creating a kind of modern vanitas still life, a genre which was extremely popular in Dutch 17th century painting;

Meelfabriek 16 Mark Dion

with my favourite Permian lizard Dimetrodon amongst others, like a unicoloured Greek god of fluorescent plastic instead of marble.

Meelfabriek 17 Georges Adéagbo
Meelfabriek 18 Georges Adéagbo
Meelfabriek 19 Georges Adéagbo
Meelfabriek 20 Georges Adéagbo

Up to the second floor where Beninese Georges Adéagbo is showing an installation improvising on the Lakenhal’s famous Last Judgement triptych by Lucas van Leyden (1494-1533). On the landing Adéagbo gives an introduction to his thoughts about the subject.

Meelfabriek 21 Georges Adéagbo
Meelfabriek 22 Georges Adéagbo
Meelfabriek 23 Georges Adéagbo

Adéagbo’s installations are usually composed of found objects, books and papers, here from Cotonou and Leiden. Adéagbo delivers what you expect from him, but it’s still interesting, as if it is a great gig of an improvising jazz musician and his band.

Meelfabriek 24
Meelfabriek 25

A view of the elevator shaft from the next floor,

Meelfabriek 26 Romuald Hazoumè
Meelfabriek 27 Romuald Hazoumè
Meelfabriek 28 Romuald Hazoumè
Meelfabriek 29 Romuald Hazoumè
Meelfabriek 30 Romuald Hazoumè
Meelfabriek 31 Romuald Hazoumè

where Beninese Romuald Hazoumè presents his Solidarité Béninoise pour les Occidentaux en Péril (Beninese Solidarity for Westerners in Danger), a fictitious NGO that collects money in Benin for poor whites because they are not supported by their kinsmen, which is quite hilarious.

Meelfabriek 32 Georges Adéagbo

From Hazoumè’s floor you have a nice view of Adéagbo’s installation.

Meelfabriek 33 Mona Hatoum

On the next floor Lebanese/Palestinian Mona Hatoum has a small but subdued presentation. There are amongst others her silent but radical Do unto others…, a boomerang of stainless steel,

Meelfabriek 34 Mona Hatoum

her carpet Shift and

Meelfabriek 35 Mona Hatoum

Rubber Mat, which may remind you of intestines.

Meelfabriek 36 Georges Adéagbo

From Hatoum’s space you have again a great view of one of Adéagbo’s floor works (and what an enormous difference with Hatoum’s!).

Meelfabriek 37 Batoul S'Himi

Compared to the previous presentations Moroccan Batoul S’Himi’s World Under Pressure is a bit bland.

Meelfabriek 38 Tsang Kin-Wah

On the top floor of the boiler house all hell breaks loose in Chinese Tsang Kin-Wah’s The Fourth Seal (seen here in combination with graffiti in the building, which fits in quite well), alluding to the Book of Revelation.

Meelfabriek 39 Tsang Kin-Wah
Meelfabriek 40 Tsang Kin-Wah

Deterring and ominous texts are curling over the floor like snakes and after some time they cover you completely.

Meelfabriek 41 Tsang Kin-Wah

The addition of hellish sounds makes the experience complete.

Meelfabriek 42
Meelfabriek 43
Meelfabriek 44
Meelfabriek 45

Clearly, an awakening to reality is seriously needed.

Meelfabriek 46 Tintin Wulia

It is time to look for some flower power. Indonesian Tintin Wulia offers relief with a plantation of beds of sunflowers in the shape of the continents called Nous ne notons pas les fleurs (We don’t notice the flowers) where visitors can contribute to moving the flower-landmasses from their Pangaean position to their present one.

Meelfabriek 47

Apparently not part of the exhibition: an artificial nest on the wall.

Meelfabriek 48

Also apparently not part of the exhibition: two pigeons on the wall.

Meelfabriek 49 Meschac Gaba

Beninese Meschac Gaba’s Citoyen du Monde (Citizen of the World) flag (the show’s iconic logo, made up of all the world’s countries’ flags) flying over the sunflowers.

Meelfabriek 50

Under the mill’s former warehouse is this remnant, a kind of sturdy monument as is the whole Meelfabriek.

Meelfabriek 51 Studio Orta

The Anglo-Argentinian duo Studio Orta have made a water purification installation in which water from the canal along the mill is purified and made potable, which was very welcome on the muggy afternoon i visited the place.

Meelfabriek 52

After this refreshment, up to the first floor of the multi-storey warehouse where

Meelfabriek 53 Ghana Thinktank

(well errr…)

Meelfabriek 54 Ghana Thinktank

the definitive presentation of Ghana Thinktank is.

Meelfabriek 55 Ghana Thinktank

The Thinktank is trying to remind the Dutch audience of their historic heroes of tolerance.

Meelfabriek 56 Pascale Marthine Tayou

In the same building, hanging from the roof of the warehouse down to the first floor, is the gigantic work Plastic Bags made of thousands of plastic bags, designed by Cameroonian Pascale Marthine Tayou. Climbing the warehouse, you can see more of it.

Meelfabriek 57 Ghana Thinktank
Meelfabriek 58 Ghana Thinktank

Back to Ghana Thinktank who have built a small replica of the Achterhuis of Anne Frank. They originally called it Anne Frank Mosque, but changed it to Monument to the Dutch after protests of narrow minded locals (narrow mindedness is a local tradition).

Meelfabriek 59 Ghana Thinktank
Meelfabriek 60 Pascale Marthine Tayou

After another look at the monstrous hanging plastic bags basket up to the next floor

Meelfabriek 61 Marjolijn Dijkman

to see Dutch Marjolijn Dijkman’s presentation of

Meelfabriek 62 Pascale Marthine Tayou

(and the plastic bags again)

Meelfabriek 63 Marjolijn Dijkman
Meelfabriek 64 Marjolijn Dijkman

objects, sculptures and a video that are based on magic objects from ethnographic museums, meant to predict or influence the future.

Meelfabriek 65 Marjolijn Dijkman

Except that it is partly too dark, it looks like a fine presentation.

Meelfabriek 66 Femke Herregraven

On the next floor Dutch Femke Herregraven’s video game Taxodus is presented, covering the main global problems and their financing, and

Meelfabriek 67 Taryn Simon

American Taryn Simon’s search engine Image Atlas can be tried. You type a word and you see the first results for search engines of different countries in the world. I typed “world.”

Meelfabriek 68 Marjolijn Dijkman

On the same floor a good view of Dijkman’s pendulum work.

Meelfabriek 69

On the next floor

Meelfabriek 70 Raqs Media Collective
Meelfabriek 71 Raqs Media Collective

the Indian Raqs Media Collective’s video work Fever is on show, about the destruction of the world by greed and fossil fuels, making use of an old photograph of a 12th century temple relief of the Mahabharata epic.

Meelfabriek 72 Raqs Media Collective
Meelfabriek 73 Raqs Media Collective

Though the outcome of the video is predictable, it is quite impressive nevertheless.

Meelfabriek 74 Pascale Marthine Tayou

I walked along the top of the Plastic Bags to the next floor

Meelfabriek 75 Andrea Stultiens
Meelfabriek 76 Andrea Stultiens
Meelfabriek 77 Andrea Stultiens

to see Dutch Andrea Stultien’s project to make the illustrations for a history book written by the Ugandan court dignitary Ham Mukasa around 1930, co-operating with Dutch and Ugandan artists and students. The project takes as a reference a list of illustrations made up by Mukasa of the potential pictures he wanted for his book.

Meelfabriek 78 Andrea Stultiens
Meelfabriek 79 Andrea Stultiens
Meelfabriek 80 Andrea Stultiens
Meelfabriek 81 Andrea Stultiens

It is both a moving and a sophisticated project and its presentation is quite elaborate and really more suitable for a separate exhibition in a museum or gallery.

Meelfabriek 82
Meelfabriek 83

After a short interlude

Meelfabriek 84 Simryn Gill
Meelfabriek 85 Simryn Gill
Meelfabriek 86 Simryn Gill
Meelfabriek 87

it’s up to the top floor of the building where Singaporean Simryn Gill gives you the opportunity to fold a paper boat from a page of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. What is the power of knowledge and how and why did it travel the world?

Meelfabriek 88
Meelfabriek 89 Simryn Gill

That is certainly a major question on top of this building, overlooking this traditional town of universal knowledge and historic collections and it is a good finish of this multidimensional show in which the building, art and knowledge play important additional roles.

Meelfabriek 90
Meelfabriek 91

After that,

Meelfabriek 92
Meelfabriek 93

it is a long way down

Meelfabriek 94
Meelfabriek 95

to get both feet

Meelfabriek 96
Meelfabriek 97

firmly back on the ground.

Meelfabriek 98 Ghana Thinktank

In the mean time,

Meelfabriek 99

project developers can’t wait to redevelop the whole lot to build amongst others chic apartments for young money earners. May knowledge of the world and wisdom stay, in spite of that!

Meelfabriek 99a
(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

Bertus Pieters

See full review (in Dutch) with additional footage here.

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