I’m proud this photo I made of the entrepreneurs of the Food Center (commissioned by Gemeente Amsterdam) is now part of the collection of the Amsterdam Museum and currently on display at the Schuttersgalerij.
For it’s one of the fundamental pleasures of travel, isn’t it? To see something new, and worthwhile, and fully unexpected. And Foam 3h – a wing of the museum that is devoted to the work of “talented young photographers” – currently delivers, with a beguiling show by the 30-something photographer Annegien van Doorn. Consisting of three videos, four large photographs, and a discrete installation, the show is modest in scale. But it combines an acute attentiveness to detail with an impish playfulness in generating an atmosphere of delightful possibility and surprising complexity. By taking relatively banal domestic objects – plastic cutting boards, or a canister of air freshener, or a pack of ball point pens – and placing them in unexpected roles or positions, van Doorn reimagines pedestrian quotidian reality, inflecting the everyday with qualities that range from humorously graceful to coyly sinister.
Consider, for instance, Domestic Science, a 2’53” video that is the most ambitious work in the show. In rapid succession, we see 34 different scenarios, in which everyday household items are subjected to pressures or placed in constrictive settings. A door groans ominously as it swings toward a tube of Colgate on the floor; soon the tube, pressured, emits a slow ribbon of toothpaste. Two eggs are placed delicately in the armpits of a faceless woman – who then presses inward, cracking them. A plastic bag holding a slew of oranges gives way, yielding a tumble of fruit, and a cylinder of processed potato chips is inverted, revealing a tenuous column of crisps – which soon topples over. Shot, for the most part, in a neutrally objective manner, the video seems to document an earnest series of idle experiments: what would happen, we can imagine van Doorn thinking, if I were to drop this bag of flour, or to place this chocolate rabbit on that heating element?