Questions about cultural identity and normative ‘national’ values are becoming an issue in political and cultural debate in the Netherlands nowadays. More and more artists are looking at art as at the mean which can provide alternative ways of contemplating contemporary society.

Dutch artists tend to put their ideas of national identity under pressure and to examine and challenge the processes of inclusion and exclusion in the Netherlands today. As questions of cultural identity and national values become even more of an issue in cultural sphere, the concept behind Extension.nl. Model for Consensus exhibition is to move the agenda of multiculturalism from notions of toleration and difference towards building a shared but agonistic democracy on a cultural level through the use of one of the few remaining public sphere institutions left to us, the art institution.

Extension.nl. Model for Consensus reflects the scattered worldview and our intention to bring together the multitude of voices of Dutch artists. Talking about consensus is a national Dutch phenomenon, which is a perfect starting point for bringing these ten transmitters, ten artists representing contemporary Dutch art scene, together. The more creative the artists are — the more self-valorising — the more surplus of knowledge this multitude of voices can bring to the community at large.

What does the notion of being Dutch and being Dutch artist mean nowadays? What does national identity mean in a time of global migration? What are the narratives, which help the artists to search for the phenomena of activation and reframing of the iconic images and the research for such category as, for example, silence?

Formal experiments of neoplasticism, arte povera and conceptualism became the basis for the artworks by Wouter Paijmans, who creates works at the junction of painting and installation. Navid Nuur, whose works are strongly influenced by the conceptualists from the 60s, has paid more attention to the relationship between meaning and form. Frank Ammerlaan works with such medias as sculpture, photography and video, but the picture remains central theme of his research. In order to create his work, he comes into position of an alchemist and experiments on the surface of the canvas with materials such as dust, metal particles and meteorite chips. The artistic method of Nick Hendrix is to rethink famous works of art and to replicate them in media images. By placing them in a new context, by changing the technique of writing, size, and translating colors into the black and white palette, Hendrix gives them a new meaning. Maaike Schoorel creates her pictures from photographs, contrasting them by using the finest tonal transitions. It no longer refers to the visual or intellectual experience of the viewer, but to ones immediate perception. Saskia van Imhoff is one of the most intriguing contemporary representatives of institutional critique, a direction in the arts, which primarily focuses on a critical examination of museum practices. It is comparable to the approach of an archaeologist who constantly removes layers in order to discover deeper meanings, revealing unexpected objects and fragments of knowledge that can be used to create new narratives. Jennifer Tee is positioning herself as a quasi-anthropologist. In her sculptures, installations, performances and collages, she builds connection between esoteric ideas and the nature of the objects themselves. She often uses artefacts and symbols charged with certain connotations, drawing inspiration from a variety of sources and trying to build a dialogue between Eastern philosophy and Western culture.
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