“Careless speech has rarely had such disturbing consequences. The recent US Presidential election, the British Brexit vote, the upcoming Dutch national elections - what better time to question the role of speech, Who speaks, Who acts? There is a significant sense that we simply don’t understand the direction of travel currently being followed. Now, at the beginning of 2017, there are many rallying cries to make this year different to the last. Where do we go from here? starts with this question” (Vincentelli).
At a time when the cultural sector is under strain and populist agendas are growing, many feel the need for reflection and a different response to fragmentation, individualism, self-interest and fear. For this project, the six galleries are functioning as one exhibition space. Works by twenty-five artists will be shown, mostly within galleries that don’t normally represent them. Some of the artworks, performances and site-specific pieces have been produced specially for this occasion. By including the public space between the galleries, the neighbourhood has become dynamically involved with Where do we go from here? Originally a working-class neighbourhood, the Jordaan has grown into an urban district, being both socially and economically diverse. Each street is packed with history, and the area is reflecting the global issues that underly the concept of the show.
Where do we go from here? has come about due to the need to develop new formats as a response to the somewhat worn model of the large art fairs and to the commercial interests associated with them. The six galleries have formed a group called Nieuw Amsterdams Peil. This first edition of Nieuw Amsterdams Peil is a pilot project; plans have already been made for joint projects in the near future. The title of the exhibition has been derived from a work by the artist Sigurdur Gudmundsson, D’où venonsnous? Que sommes-nous? Où allons-nous? (study no. 4), from 1976. N.A.P. gives direction to this query. Alessandro Vincentelli’s curatorial focus on language, communication and miscommunication touches on the unsettling idea that, in these unusual times, a venomous type of rhetoric seems to be giving rise to the 'freedom' to say things previously deemed 'unutterable'.
Where do we go from here? is a dynamic initiative involving works that have largely been produced specifically in response to the invitation to reflect on the galleries, their location and the concept of the exhibition. Chaim van Luit, to name one example, has created work based on his study of arrows - symbols for indicating direction - which he happened to find, sometimes during his journeys through networks of corridors underground. The repeated presence of arrows in the exhibition serves as a system of codes that interconnects the galleries. Navid Nuur, too, interconnects the spaces between the galleries. Throughout the exhibition we can come across his We Share Air buttons. The exhibition has moreover been an opportunity to show significant works that have rarely been on view in the Netherlands, such as Falke Pisano's installation Figures of Speech (diagrammed), 2009. With this installation he artist allows us to physically experience the complex principles of the relationships between artist, artwork and spectator, through text and language.
An unusual aspect of the collaboration among the six galleries is that the proceeds from the sale of works will be equally shared by all the galleries of N.A.P. It makes no difference which of the galleries the visitor chooses for the purchase of that one, much-wanted work, since N.A.P. is combining its forces!