Current Exhibition

16/09/2023 - 30/09/2024

Echoes of Our Stories

The group exhibition Echoes of Our Stories brings together the work of Claudia Martínez Garay, Diana Policarpo, Jennifer Tee, Agnes Waruguru and Müge Yilmaz. Five artists who all tell stories in different ways that reshape our relationship with the environment and more-than-humans. The title of this exhibition is derived from an essay by botanist and Citizen of Potawatomi Nation, Robin Wall Kimmerer. In a time of climate crisis and deep uncertainty about our survival, she turns to the stories of her ancestors. It is the plant teachers such as mosses and sweet grass that can guide us and show us a different way of living together. It is the origin stories and cosmologies Kimmerer refers to, that can speak not just of where we came from, but how we got here and how we can move forward too. We need to revisit the echoes of those narratives.

The artists in this exhibition weave stories that make us look at the world around us in a different way, than the dominant Western way and help us make sense of that world. They propose new worldviews, spiritual, healing and futuristic alternatives in which the harsh dichotomies between human-nature, above-below, center-margin are subverted.

Curated by Aveline de Bruin and Laurie Cluitmans, in close collaboration with Heske ten Cate and Filipa Oliveira.
This exhibition has been made possible with the kind support of the Collection de Bruin-Heijn.

Claudia Martínez Garay

In her paintings, collages, installations and murals, Claudia Martínez Garay reflects on the complex, and at times violent history of her homeland Peru. She created this mural Huaquita for the monumental entrance of Quinta do Quetzal and it consists of a colourful architectural surface division. The colours are reminiscent of ancient Peruvian architectures with animal reliefs and colourful iconography. The Huaquita evokes associations with the temples and stepped pyramids known as Huacas. They are places of religious importance, where offerings and rituals were performed. The shape of the doors, for instance, are reminiscent of the pyramidical Inca windows. They become like portals and direct your gaze before you enter the exhibition space.

Claudia Martínez Garay’s artistic methodology could be described as that of an archaeologist. The stories she excavates are both historical and speculative. Martínez Garay was born in the Peruvian province of Ayacucho. She grew up with — and between — two cultures, her native indigenous culture and the predominantly white westernized culture in the capital, with customs imposed by the Spanish colonists. Her work constantly rereads that complex and violent duality in history. For instance in the ongoing series called Pacha. The artist associatively pairs elements from the Andean cosmovision to offer another perspective on our relationship with nature, time and space. Each collage offers a specific window on reality and invites the reader to uncover connections. Against the background of a mountainous landscape, hangs a branch with sacrifices, an apple, eaten in the shape of South America, snakes, the leaves of a coca plant and underneath it all, inside the Andean cross, a white hand with a burned match. Together these symbols reveal a hidden meaning and can be understood as a means of orientation.

(Courtesy the artist and Grimm Gallery)



Diana Policarpo

In the film The Oracle, Diana Policarpo uses historical and speculative research to create a story about Claviceps purpurea, or the ergot fungi, and its role in healthcare through the ages. For centuries, that care was in female hands. They passed on their knowledge of medicinal plants orally to each other. For instance, they used claviceps purpurea to induce menstruation or, conversely, in childbirth to stem blood. When used incorrectly, however, it could also have harmful effects, causing gangrene, hallucinations or insanity. In Europe in the Middle Ages, mass poisonings took place in times of food shortages when people consumed beer and rye bread contaminated with the ergot fungi. It is believed that the witch hunts stemmed from these massive and terrifying epidemics that could not be explained at the time. For Policarpo, the idea of contamination provides a way of asking complex questions about care and collectivity. Women’s medicinal knowledge and their associated exceptional position was increasingly seen as suspect and slowly eliminated by the witch hunts, as well as through the capitalist system. In The Oracle, Policarpo manages to weave an intersectional historical narrative that repositions women and people with wombs in the development of modern gynaecology.

(Courtesy the artist and Galeria Lehmman + Silva, Porto)



Jennifer Tee

In installations, sculptures, collages and performances, Jennifer Tee aims to restore lost connections with ancestral knowledge and spirituality, and between humans and more-than-humans. In the two photographs from the series Mental Plane~Physical Plane, she does so by bringing together various elements in a performative, explosive, collage. She combined paintings from the Museum of Images of the Unconscious in Rio de Janeiro with cultural artefacts used for burial and rites of passage, from indigenous peoples of South America, together with ceramic objects she made herself. An imprint of her own face for example and a series of moonlike-domes. Tee scattered gunpowder all over the scene, which she then lit and photographed at that exact moment. The bursts of fire are not a sign of destruction but rather a moment in which everything becomes connected, a reference to cosmic power.

Transient Shroud / Being Less Human consists of a platform with a net-like robe, dried plants and ceramic domes. The robe is large enough to be worn or cover a human figure. On the platform, without a body present, it is reminiscent of the snake’s shed skin or the residual impression of a body and thus – as the English title also hints – a shroud. For Tee, it is a way of reanimating the depleted relationship between the human and more-than-humans. Tee proposes we slow down, snooze, and heal these lost connections.

(Courtesy the artist and Galerie Fons Welters)



Agnes Waruguru

Agnes Waruguru creates a sensory environment with paintings on textile, ceramic calabashes that can be used to make sound and music, scented flowers and bouquets that slowly wither. Her paintings consist of semi-abstract images, markings that form a landscape in which patterns, flowers and animals recur. Waruguru paints on textiles, rather than canvas, with water and homemade pigments of flowers and herbs mixed with more traditional paints. Time Travel Dream Sequence (messengers) is a folding screen, a window and reference to day and night. The painting is based on sketches Waruguru made during her visit to the Alentejo. Sketches of the landscape, as well as of local plants and animals. Devil’s claw, for example. A plant native to southern Africa that was introduced to Europe around 1900. Because of its hooks, it easily sticks to clothes or fur and has, as a result, spread across several continents. The dried roots have medicinal properties and can reduce pain or act as an anti-inflammatory. Across the space she placed ceramic calabashes named Ngomi, meaning the eternally sleeping ones. In Kenya they are traditionally used during ceremonies as a vessel to drink from or as a musical instrument. For Waruguru they become grief capsules. Together, this environment of objects forms a dreamlike cosmos in which a sensitive story about transformation and an intimate relationship to the land is told.



Müge Yilmaz

For her sculptures, installations, stories and gardens, Müge Yilmaz draws on ancient stories and feminist science fiction. She looks towards the extraordinary archaeological sites in central Turkey for example while imagining a matriarchal future world. The installation A Garden of Coincidences was inspired by the 11,500-year-old Göbekli Tepe in Mesapotamia. Here, circular temples were found with stone pillars with realistically-carved reliefs of animals and plants. The six pillars of A Garden of Coincidences were based on this and are covered by branches Yilmaz found in the area surrounding Quetzal, forming a covered hut. This work can be seen as a contemporary temple and monument. Each pillar is a tribute to a recent ancestor who played an important role in the fight for equal rights and stood up for the environment: Ali & Aysin Büyüknohutçu, Berta Cáceres, Pippa Bacca, Berkin Elvan, anonymous Foxconn worker and Olivia Arévalo.

The temple functions as a place of gathering and anyone is allowed to enter the temple. However, due to its height of 1.20 metres, anyone taller must bow down and assume a more humble yet equal position.

In Yilmaz’s own speculative stories, she evokes a matriarchal future world, for which she draws inspiration from extraordinary archaeological sites in central Anatolia, such as the nearly 9,000-year-old Çatalhöyük. Goddess Theory consists of two monumental wooden sculptures that form floating beacons. The objects stem from Yilmaz’s story about a village in the year 4000, inhabited and led by people who identify as women. They were the only survivors of an unknown catastrophe on earth, due to their traditional knowledge of how to live with nature. The two interlocking round circles refer to an ophanim, an archetypal motif from the Torah and the Bible that represents spiritual evolution. The wooden structure is covered with rows of eyes and glass jars that function as a seed bank, containing the seeds of amongst others wheat, corn, barley and sun flowers.

Yilmaz based the vultures in the series Gyps on the arches of the matriarchal houses of Çatalhöyük. At the same time they also represent the funeral ritual of ‘sky burial’ whereby the deceased would be left to be eaten by vultures and go to heaven. The vultures are like artefacts referring to mythical and spiritual customs, in a time far before organised religion.