Reviews A Crowded Sky
Bas Hendrikx, Rosa Wevers, Soheil Farmanbar
Until June 28 it is possible to visit the exhibition A CROWDED SKY, curated by artist Jasmijn Visser and designer Stëfan Schäfer. We asked some visitors, who visited the exhibition since the reopening at the beginning of the month, to reflect briefly on their visit to A CROWDED SKY.
“I was very taken with the time-based format of A Crowded Sky. The theatrical setup is the exhibition equivalent of a playlist. It’s very immersive. Somehow it was very soothing to just sit back and experience this exhibition. The sequenced series of works gets you in the right mindset and gives plenty of room to artistic voices. This exhibition, curated by an artist, really shows the added value of artistic exchange between peers.”
– Bas Hendrikx is the artistic director of Kunsthalle Amsterdam. In 2016, in collaboration with Barbara Cueto, he curated the IMPAKT Festival ‘Authenticity?’ Read his conversation with Jasmijn Visser about the complexity of (online) crowds for Metropolis M here.
“After months of living in an ‘intelligent lockdown’, it is almost scary to see how easily we adjust to predetermined choreographies of behaviour. When entering A Crowded Sky, I found myself instantly following the striped patterns on the exhibition floor. Whilst it was an unconscious move, I realized later that this behaviour was probably exactly in line with expectations of crowd psychology. It made me notice how the current moment is marked by such choreographies of the crowd, as we are constantly directed to keep distance, wear masks and prevent coming too close –even when we protest.
A Crowded Sky offers new perspectives on these crowd choreographies by showing how – to an unprecedented level – our movements are predicted and simulated by AI systems. In the exhibition, a friendly voice slowly seduces us to refrain from the risky behaviour of coming together, and proposes to leave this up to simulated versions of ourselves in the digital world. ‘It is actually very rational to automate some social routines. You don’t have to get paranoid’, she says. The uncanny loop of images that we see on the screen, however, tells a different story. In A Crowded Sky, crowds are visualised as streams and flows, as perfectly predictable entities as well as uncontrollable mobs. How can we conceive of shared crowd responsibility – and what does this mean for the individuals within? What happens when we behave outside of the patterns of ‘normal behaviour’ that crowd simulations have predicted – and how are such norms defined? Provoking such questions, A Crowded Sky engages with technological interventions into crowd politics – a topic that couldn’t be more relevant.”
– Rosa Wevers is a PhD candidate in Gender Studies at Utrecht University. For her project ‘Facing Surveillance: Artistic Strategies in Times of Control’, she investigates the interaction between contemporary art and surveillance. Before starting her PhD, Rosa worked as the project coordinator of MOED (Museum of Equality and Difference).
“It was so impressive, a perfectly relevant illustration of different types of crowd psychology, how can a crowd or a flow effect individuals. All types of crowds with their rapid and slow effects were totally touching during the exhibition. I actually enjoyed it more when I went through the “a crowded sky krant” and read about the artists perspectives, then it got more comprehensive.”
– Soheil Farmanbar is an IT-specialist and works as an exhibition host at IMPAKT.