Here is an interview with artist Remy Jungerman on his latest exhibition, Brilliant Corners. Here are excerpts; for full interview, see Something Curated. [Also see our previous post Art Exhibition: Remy Jungerman’s “Brilliant Corners.”]
From 7 April–15 May 2021, New York’s Fridman Gallery is set to present the first major solo exhibition in the US of Remy Jungerman, whose works explore the intersection of pattern and symbol in Surinamese-Maroon culture, the larger African Diaspora, Jazz, and 20th Century Modernism. Entitled Brilliant Corners, the exhibition deals with the intersecting histories of colonisation and migration, connecting the visual languages of minimalism and conceptualism with materials drawn from Suriname’s colonial past and complicated present. Jungerman, who represented The Netherlands at the 2019 Venice Biennale and has previously exhibited his work at the Stedelijk Museum, Havana Biennial, and the Brooklyn Museum, has created an entirely new body of work for the show, featuring wall-based panels and sculptural assemblages of textiles and clay. To learn more about the artist’s practice, the upcoming show at Fridman Gallery, and what he has planned next, Something Curated spoke with Jungerman.
Something Curated: What is the thinking behind the selection of works included in your upcoming exhibition, Brilliant Corners, at Fridman Gallery?
Remy Jungerman: All of the works were created especially for this exhibition. Mostly panels and some wall sculptures, all of the pieces are inspired by the rhythmic essence of the Agida. The Agida is a long drum (about 2.5 meters long) that produces low-tone sounds. These drums are used in the Afro Surinamese Maroon tradition to honour and show respect for Mother Earth, which is symbolised as a snake god.
SC: Could you expand on your exploration of Suriname’s colonial history and complex present through materials, such as textiles, clay and beads?
RJ: Suriname’s colonial history includes much pain, but it is also a triumphant story of how people who were forcefully brought there were able to carry with them – and for centuries retain – their own cultural and religious practices. In my work I’m looking at how aesthetics developed in this environment, especially with regard to the Maroon tribes. The Maroons escaped slavery on the Dutch plantations and built a strong community deep in the rainforest of Suriname. Here their own religious and aesthetic practices combined with influences and materials from the indigenous people they encountered in the rainforest as well as from the Dutch colonisers. The selection of materials I’m using in my work come mostly from Winti practices.
Winti is an Afro Surinamese traditional religion. The textiles you see in my work are the same as those worn during different Winti ritual practices that honour the Winti pantheons – water, earth, forest and air. The white mineral kaolin clay you see in my work is called pimba by the Maroons. They use it in purification rituals that also serve to honour their ancestors. I view my studio practice as, in a sense, a process in which the art works I produce are the products of ritual acts. Layering the clay on top of the textile and then carving on the clay’s surface, the works reveal the underlying colours in the gridded textiles. These rhythmic surfaces recall the rhythms of the Agida as well as maps of the plantations of Suriname with their grid structures juxtaposed with curved lines. [. . .]
[Above, Photo by Aatjan Renders: Remy Jungerman, Pimba AGIDA MADAFO VI, 2020.]