The Netherlands at the Venice Biennale 2007: Citizens and Subjects
10 June–21 November 2007
For more information,
please visit our website: http://www.citizensandsubjects.nl
In Citizens and Subjects, Aernout Mik presents a new, complex ‘multichannel’ video installation consisting of three works
(Training Ground, 2007; Convergencies, 2007; Mock Up, 2007)
embedded in an architectural intervention in the Dutch Pavilion.
A subject is a person who is under the rule or authority of a sovereign, state or a governing power and who owes allegiance and obedience. Citizens, by contrast, are generally those with rights, entitled to the full privileges of belonging to a state or nation.
By means of staging situations or using existing documentary footage, Mik focuses on training exercises, in which police learn and practice methods of enforcing the law against refugees, as well as real circumstances in which these acquired techniques are applied.
It becomes clear that this is part of the larger context of how we prepare ourselves to respond to crises and threats to national security in general.
The artist shows a mixture of staged scenarios and documentary footage depicting the police, teams of first responders, refugees and victims in crisis situations.
On multiple levels, the work questions the simplified distinction between subjects and citizens today, asking, aren’t we all actually subjected in the same way to this disquieting reality?
Through re-enactment, mimicry and the building of irrational excess, Mik undermines the distinction and clear separation between subjection and possible liberation, metaphorically suggesting that perhaps it is from here that new opportunities might emerge.
The critical reader Citizens and Subjects: The Netherlands, for example is a site where issues of fear, anxiety and (illegal) immigration - but also cultural resistance and emancipation - are discussed through the example of the Netherlands, which stands here as neither a particular nor universal case for discussing the so-called western condition. It asks how art and artists can react to these issues and what possibilities they can create to see things differently.
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Lectures and debates
The 'extension' of the Dutch Pavilion to the Netherlands takes place in Utrecht through a collaboration between BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Utrecht University and Vrede van Utrecht, as well as at Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven and at Witte de With in Rotterdam .
BAK, basis voor actuele kunst