Narrative cinema distinguishes between what is real and what is an image; between the actual and the virtual. The cinema of the Dutch artist’s twosome Jeroen de Rijke en Willem de Rooij breaks through this pattern, making use of film as a machine which crystallizes time, hereby raising new forms of subjectivity. The two-piece retrospective programme Imago Mundi compiles ten recent works by this duo, which reclaims movement and time with their films.

Jeroen de Rijke (1970) and Willem de Rooij (1969) both live in Amsterdam. They met at the Rietveld Academie and started collaborating on the realisation of video installations, performances, TV-programmes and 16mm film shorts. They choose their medium as a way of inciting the viewer to watch images , which we would otherwise process in a blink of an eye, with more intensity. Their static camera work, combined with an efficient use of the inherent time and light qualities of the film medium, gives their subjects, taken from religion, history and geology, an almost meditational quality. Their work has been shown, among other places, at the Centre d’Art Contemporain (Fribourg), the Institute of Contemporary Arts ICA (London) and the Museet for Samtidskunst (Oslo).

Imago Mundi # 1   61’
on Sat, 25 Oct 2003 20:00

Bantar Gebang by Jeroen De Rijke & Willem De Rooij 10’ 2000
35mm, colour, non spoken, 10’, 2000 An immobile camera, pointed to a slum in the Jakarta neighbourhood, films dawns from semidarkness to broad daylight. On the foreground a road runs horizontally, with an entrance to the quarter. In the morning dew the spectator can distinguish shadows of people or animals. Not a single cut or movement disrupts this drama, taking place in the silence of morning. The questions de Rijke en de Rooij asked themselves while making this film were political in nature: to which extent might a work of art make socially and politically critical statements? Along with the colourful twilight zone and the rising sun, the image bears everything from an alluring tourist brochure for a palm beach. The long breath and the sustained gaze, however, have a sobering effect and they confront the spectator with reality.

Junks by Jeroen De Rijke & Willem De Rooij 20’ 1994
Video, colour, non spoken, 20’, 1994 The artists stand eye to eye with drug addicts who were requested to stand immobile and watch straight into the lens. The six junkie portraits were filmed with varying success, depending on the benevolence of those who were being filmed. The simple setting with a chiaroscuro game of light bestows an almost religious undercurrent on the portraits. The situation of extreme want of freedom those portrayed ended up in because of their addiction, is reinforced by the rigidity of the camera and the guidelines they get from the artists.

Of Three Men by Jeroen De Rijke & Willem De Rooij 10 1998
35 mm, colour, non spoken, 10’, 1998 Of Three Men shows the interior of a former neo-gothic church, now serving as a mosque. By analogy with the paintings by Pieter Saenredam (1597-1665), well-known because of his visionary scenes with interiors from Dutch churches, de Rijke and de Rooij make use of a similar regularity in perspective and light. With almost unnatural detail and vastness the space unfolds to the viewer and he is invited to explore it further visually from a fixed camera perspective, depending on the radiance of the sunlight. Contrary to the precision in the representation an ambiguity arises in the interpretation of the environment, namely a Christian church used for an Islamic rite. The church appears as an ecumenical environment, allowing religion and contemplation to be experienced as a cultural transcendent human dimension.

Forever and Ever by Jeroen De Rijke & Willem De Rooij 18’ 1995
16 mm, colour, non spoken, 18’, 1995 In four perfectly composed sequences the matrix of film history is skinned to the bone. Recorded in Bombay with references to Bollywood, soap operas and the nouvelle vague from the sixties and the seventies, this film lets cinematic grammar and the conventions of the medium take their own course. As a result it seems as if this film keeps escaping the threat of the illusion which arises from colourful scenes full of kitsch and sentimental romanticism. It soon turns out that what is offered to the spectator in a series of nice pictures actually takes places on the level of iconography and sign systems.

Chun Tian by Jeroen De Rijke & Willem De Rooij 3’ 1994
16 mm, colour, non spoken, 3’, 1994 The first collaboration between de Rijke en de Rooij might be perceived as a declaration of principles for an important part of their body of work. An idyllic scene about two Asian lovers against a luscious background of magnolias is reduced by the separation of filmic and cinematographic components to a series of abstract figurations with recognisable topoi. Dominated by the immediate legibility of the image all narrative cohesion disappears. Here esthetical beauty is a purely pictorial quality, just like ‘love’ is nothing more or less than a word in its lexical dimension.

Imago Mundi # 2   67’
on Sat, 25 Oct 2003 22:00

Crystals I-IX by Jeroen De Rijke & Willem De Rooij 15’ 2003
16 mm, colour, silent, 15’, 2003 This series of twelve film shorts demonstrates the crystallisation process of various substances or solutions. A drop of fluid is placed under a microscope with a preheated glass surface, causing the specimen to dehydrate. Slowly the water recedes, leaving a white residue: crystals. Similar to rocks our mountain rims each crystal also has a unique shape. In the reflection of the light relieves are unveiled and filled with colour. The black (fluid) and the coloured (solid) parts meet in the image, looking for space.

The Point of Departure by Jeroen De Rijke & Willem De Rooij 26’ 2002
35mm, colour, non spoken, 26’, 2002 After investigating the narrative structures in film in their previous works, this is the first work with a narrative, almost dramatic structure. The film arose from detailed research of carpets, patterns, and their origin. Even though political connotations might be made, the esthetical reflections constitute the main foundation of this work. At the start of the film the camera travels over the not yet recognisable carpet. Colours and irregular contours pass through the image. Gradually it becomes clear that a carpet is concerned. As the camera pans out further, the carpet disappears against a black background as dot into darkness.

I’m Coming Home in Forty Days by Jeroen De Rijke & Willem De Rooij 15’ 1997

Untitled by Jeroen De Rijke & Willem De Rooij 10’ 2001
35 mm, colour, silent, 10’, 2001 In an immobile and strictly geometrical framework an Islamic burial ground is filmed, in the proximity of Jakarta. The apartment buildings in the background appear as an unnatural borderline between heaven and earth. With pictorial clarity and minimal dramaturgy the image stands straight onto the spectator. The movement of plant leaves in the wind runs analogously to the smearing of paint onto a cloth. To people from Jakarta the burial ground Karet Bivak is a place for calm and relaxation. Even though the work has no title, death is present everywhere.

Voor Bas Oudt by Jeroen De Rijke & Willem De Rooij 1’ 1996
16 mm, colour, silent, 1’, 1996 Starting from a close-up of an abstract green world the camera quietly pans out to a butterfly, bringing its wings to a standstill. In this short sequence a strong erotic tension, as well as sensuality and muscularity is contained. The film brings together scientific nature and beauty in a hybrid image of artificiality and a natural quality. Partly due to the very exact registration by means of a scientific camera, this homage to a former teacher of the artists becomes a homage to the quality of perception itself.

Jeroen De Rijke & Willem De Rooij, Bantar Gebang, 2000