The exhibition project named After the Future shows collaborative works by two representatives of the contemporary Dutch art scene, the visual and performance artist Emmeline de Mooij and the graphic designer Adriaan Mellegers. The project titled after a book by Franco Berardi (also known as Bifo) draws on the artists’ four-month residency at the MeetFactory studios, exploring the boundary between fine art, scenography and formally simplified signs. The exhibited objects, sculptures, large-format prints and installations tease the viewer through their visuality, often derived from familiar graphical and architectonic elements taken out of their original contexts. The artists manipulate with them freely, in order to create a new science-fiction narrative, built from traces of the past, present and the (possible) future.
De Mooij and Mellegers were inspired by an eclectic mixture of the historical architectural styles, typical for the urban landscape of Prague. They have researched, documented and subsequently deconstructed diverse architectonic and graphic details of Prague's buildings and streets, from forgotten door handles to renowned symbols, which take part in illustrating the face of the city. The artists especially drew on the heritage of modernism, the relics of socialist architecture and the so-called brutalism, but also the former functionalism and other movements. The artistic duo approached such sources with courage, stripping them of the sediments of history and symbolic meaning. They investigated them as pure visual components, on which any new meanings can be projected. Deprived of their past, they are now ought to become a part of a spatial narrative on surveillance, conspiracy, hope and the myth of progress.
The exhibition embodies a vision of the artists about a dystopian future, where human beings are reduced to giant heads on pharmaceutical diets, where bodily contact becomes a rarity and the relics of the past, such as sculpted stone, mythical figures, kings or heroes have lost their fight with sticker banners and celebrity seduction a long time ago. The individual pieces in the show may represent imaginary scenes from a fictional movie. They stand for a fundamental layer of the story, which will be animated during the exhibition several times. A couple of contemporary artists, who have been invited to take part in the performance program accompanying the exhibition, were asked to react freely on its topic or particular objects, which can be used as props or independent counterparts of their actions.
A key element of the exhibition takes a form of an emerald-shaped object called the “Altar of Progress”, the visuality of which refers both to the shape of a UFO and the futuristic architecture by Karel Prager. In some cases the altar will become a podium for this direct action, activating the otherwise static exhibition. In other times it will only suggest the notion of action, which is often being overlooked in more traditional exhibition formats. Doing so, the project opens the door to an inter-genre grasp of the individual artworks as well as the exhibition as a whole. It can be understood as a setting, a stage or a visual spectacle and, possibly, all at once.
Studio Adriaan Mellegers is a small independent graphic design studio in Amsterdam (NL). From 2003–2005 Adriaan Mellegers was a participant in the design department of the Jan van Eyck Academie (NL). Since leaving the Jan van Eyck Adriaan has been working for clients and on projects in the fields of fine art, architecture, design and fashion. Since 2012 Adriaan Mellegers also teaches typography at the Royal Academy of Art in the Hague, NL (KABK).
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Concept & design: Studio Adriaan Mellegers
Website coding: Jim Haakman (NL) & Jean Jaques Warmerdam (NL)
All photography (unless stated otherwise): Sarah Bergmann (DE)
Image production: Sarah Bergmann (DE) & Fedor Velyaminov (RU)
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Website last updated: 01.09.2016
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© Studio Adriaan Mellegers, 2016