Remy Jungerman: Behind the Forest
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
November 20, 2021 – March 13, 2022
Remy Jungerman’s sculptures, installations, panels, collages and screen-prints trace pathways of patterns from Maroon culture in Suriname, the African Diaspora, and the visual idiom of 20th-century Modernism. He is looking for an autonomous visual language by initiating a dialogue between abstract geometric patterns drawn from a multiplicity of visual traditions.
Remy Jungerman (1959) was born in Moengo, Suriname. He attended the Academy for Higher Art and Culture Education in Paramaribo and moved to Amsterdam in 1990 to complete his training at the Rietveld Academy. Jungerman’s mother was of African heritage, his father of European descent. In 2005, his father died and Jungerman returned to Suriname for the funeral. While there, he also visited his mother’s family altar and took part in ancestral worship rituals. Jungerman’s mother is a descendant of the Bakabusi (the people behind the forest) also known as Brooskampers. These Surinamese Maroons were led by granman (paramount chief) Broos, escaped enslavement on Dutch plantations and founded their own community in the Surinamese rainforests. Jungerman honours his indebtedness to the culture of the Maroons through the act of creating.
The exhibition’s title, Behind the Forest, is a direct reference to the Bakabusi. For which reason, Jungerman takes 2005 as the starting point for this overview of his artistic oeuvre. Jungerman draws parallels between the geometric patterns of traditional textiles indigenous to Maroon culture, and Modernism. Connecting, juxtaposing or contrasting cultures is intrinsic to his pursuit of an autonomous visual language, which deftly interweaves the cultures of the countries that define him: Suriname, the Netherlands and the United States.
“Remy Jungerman searches for a new visual language that brings disparate cultures into the conversation. With references to Maroon culture, West-African elements and Modernist aesthetics such as De Stijl and Constructivism, Jungerman challenges established art history with installations infused with his personal rhythm, imagery and influences.” – Rein Wolfs, director, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Remy Jungerman is one of the Netherlands’ most important artists. Behind the Forest presents a number of key artworks produced over the past fifteen years, including the installation Visiting Deities, consisting of three large horizontals – ‘bearers of the past’ – above a table in a dry riverbed. Jungerman presented this installation during the 58th Venice Biennale, now once more on display at the Stedelijk. Also on view is Broos, a film composed of photographs and brief film clips Jungerman made during ancestor rituals held by descendants of the Bakabusi on the Rorac plantation in Suriname. The rhythmic arrangement of short black-and-white fragments is underscored by the composition Follow the Light by American jazz musician and composer Jason Moran.