Gwangju Biennale, South Korea
The exhibition, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, presents a sprawling investigation of the relationships that bind people to images and images to people. The video Untitled (Staphorst) from 2002 shares the room with a photo of Andre de Dienes, where Marylin Monroe, the 'most photographed woman on earth' covers her face with a black cloth.
Catalogue text by Chris Wiley:
As an artist and writer, Arnoud Holleman's extraordinarily diverse output is connected by a strong thematic concern with the life and significance of images. Often this concern is manifested through acts of appropriation that transform an image's meaning through a shift in context, or a removal of contextual elements. This concern with the lives of images has also led him to create works that explore the historical prohibitions on image making. One such work is Untitled (Staphorst) (2003), a slowed-down loop of 1960s film footage of the fundamentalist Protestant enclave of Staphorst in the Netherlands. In the film, the village's inhabitants are seen shielding their faces from the camera. Their actions bring to mind the superstition that photographic image making devices can steal a part of one's soul or life essence, but it is more likely that these pious villagers are simply taking the Bible's second commandment to a logical extreme. Not content to simply abstain from the creation of unholy images themselves, they hope to avoid the transformation of their bodies into images at the hands of the camera operator, of becoming idols by proxy. But Holleman's principle interest in the footage is cultural, not religious, and it is telling that the villagers' gestures seem so foreign to most viewers. Holleman notes that contemporary culture has inverted religious bans on imagery; 'to see and be seen via the image has become a cultural and existential duty.'