Finissage: On Labour, Leisure and Endurance

11 July, 15.00-18.00, Hotel Maria Kapel
On Labour, Leisure and Endurance. With a video-introduction by dr. M. van Mechelen and a conversation between Priscila Fernandes and artist Sands Murray-Wassink, moderated by HMK’s creative director Miriam Wistreich.

We endure through many aspects of life: through dysfunctional relationships and bad bosses, through moments of financial distress, through pandemics, oppression and disillusionment. Sometimes to endure is simply to keep going and often we endure and dream of better worlds. 

This event celebrates the end of the production of Happier Than a Seagull With a French Fry, the latest addition to  Priscila Fernandes’ Labour Series and asks: What role does endurance play in the ways we live, work and make art?

Within performance art, there is a long history of practices of endurance. For artist Marina Abramovic, endurance meant to instruct oneself, to formulate a test. An ordeal. In this event, we will explore the idea of endurance from the perspective of art history and within two divergent artistic practices. 

In the work of Priscila Fernandes, endurance is intimately tied to labour. Her ongoing Labour Series is an investigation of the dichotomy between labour and leisure and the work that has dominated our lives for centuries. From early childhood to adulthood we are trained for employability and our self-worth is weighed against how much we can produce and how successful we are. Even our leisure time and activities are tied to an ethics of work, with activities promoting self-discipline and self-improvement. 

In these times of an almost complete collapse of the boundaries between work, private life, socialising, protest and time to enjoy, the artist will reflect on the connections between work, our bodies and the systems that connect them.

Sands Murray-Wassink, invited to join the conversation to reflect on embodiment, endurance and art history, is a body artist and painter whose work engages with endurance both in form and content. His main art materials are invisible but tangible things: emotions, thoughts, feelings, relationships and behaviour. Often directly referencing the subversive work of the performances of 1970s second-wave feminists, Murray-Wassink’s durational performances, which he labels “SURVIVAL ACCEPTANCE ART” are a study in and embodied histories and endurance.

Priscila Fernandes (b. 1981, Portugal) is a visual artist living and working in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Her work is rooted in ongoing research into education, play, and the dialectics of work and leisure. She works in a broad range of media, from video, installation, sound, sculpture, drawing, painting, photography and text. Her work has been exhibited widely, among others at the São Paulo Biennial, Brazil; Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland; Museum Reina Sofia, Madrid; Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter, Norway; and in the Netherlands at TENT, Rotterdam and  Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam.

Sands Murray-Wassink (b. 1974, USA) is a painter/body artist and perfume collector based in Amsterdam since 1994.  His passion and main interest is for many years intersectional feminist art with a focus on artists such as Hannah Wilke, Adrian Piper and Carolee Schneemann. He is currently an advisor to the Mondriaan Foundation. As a guest resident at the Rijksakademie, initiated and supported by If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution, he is working on a commission that activates his entire archive in a  collaborative process and durational performance.

Marga van Mechelen (b. 1953) is an art historian and art critic. From 1980 until 2019 she taught modern and contemporary art history and visual semiotics at the University of Amsterdam. She is a specialist in the field of historiography and semiotics and has published widely on performance, video and installation art, among others: De Appel. Performances, Installations, Video, Projects, 1975-1983 (2006), Art at Large. Through Performance and Installation Art (2013) and Migratory Signifiers. Encrypted Symbols. How Globalization Mobilizes Aesthetics (2015). Her most recent publication is the survey book A Critical History of Media Art in the Netherlands. Platforms, Policies, Technologies (co-edited by Sanneke Huisman) from 2019. She lives in Arnhem.

Photography: Bart Treuren