Inflected Objects # Circulation – Mise en Séance at De Hallen Haarlem in the Netherlands

Pink painted lobster claw, Inventory number OH II-2645a
Collection Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem


The exhibition Mise en Séance, opening on the 15th of January 2016 at De Hallen Haarlem, is part of Inflected Objects’ second chapter on the topic of Circulation. With Inflected Objects curator Melanie Bühler has launched a series of exhibitions in which the influence of digital technologies is examined as part of our contemporary experience. In her series of exhibitions in various places, of which # 2 Circulation is the second chapter (after # 1 Abstraction, co-curated by Valerio Mannucci at the Istituto Svizzero in Milan last year), Bühler traces the development of a new kind of autonomy for contemporary art objects, influenced by the effects of “the digital.”

Pics or it didn’t happen – experiences turn into millions of images, moving through socio-technical networks and accumulating comments, views and likes.
Art is part of this economy of attention: in today’s hyper-networked era we are becoming used to seeing and experiencing artworks online. We encounter them as so many images in the various feeds we scroll through, our fingers touching the screen and our eyes quickly scanning its content.
Pics or it didn’t happen – the installation shot of an exhibition has become more important than the exhibition itself.

Mise en Séance considers a different set of artworks: things that didn’t happen – objects that have been filed away in the storage space of  Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem. They might have had a moment once and have seen the instantaneous light of a digital camera when their picture was taken for the collection’s database, but for now they quietly rest on shelves, are carefully wrapped in boxes or stoically stand in a courtyard. They exist in a state of latency, awaiting their turn to be exhibited. They are not dead, but because they don’t circulate or participate in contemporary media culture’s circuits of visibility, they are also not fully alive. They could be seen as ghosts with a stubborn and decaying materiality that insists on its own objective reality: paint starts to drip, fungus to spread and colors to fade. They exist in their own secluded temporality: the time of the archive.

Mise en Séance stages an environment where artistic practices that are immersed in the logic of digital circulation encounter pieces of the collection of the Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem that, at first glance, seem radically detached from this logic. These objects were selected from the museum’s storage spaces and resume their place next to artworks that were created in response by Martijn Hendriks, Katja Novitskova, Vanessa Safavi and Dan Walwin. Without labels or any other explanations present in the exhibition space, the artworks have only each other to refer to and engage in a new set of relations. These relations of formal, conceptual and affective affinities are radically different from the logic of the museum that the objects usually report to: its collection and restoration policies and the art historical canon. What counts is what it is here now, the presence of these (art) objects in the exhibition space.
Henk Baard, director of the Frans Hals Museum from 1956 -1972 believed that candlelight could re-animate the 17th century paintings he exhibited. In the same spirit, Mise en Séance conjures a space of ghostly presence in which absent and present, old and new, and past and future merge. As such it investigates rules of circulation, conditions of vitality and the possibility of timeless appeal.

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Inflected Objects was initiated by the Istituto Svizzero di Roma. The current exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem. The project is financially supported by the Goethe-Institut and the Mondriaan Fund.

Inflected Objects #2 Circulation – Mise en Séance


Inflected Objects #2 Circulation – Mise en Séance


De Hallen Haarlem – Grote Markt 16, Haarlem
Opening Friday 15 January 2016 at 5pm