press release

Delinking and Relinking
In the Van Abbemuseum Collection
September 17, 2021–July 1, 2024

the new Van Abbemuseum collection exhibition that will run until 2025. Emerging out of ideas developed by decolonial thinkers, the collection is presented as a series of encounters between artworks, histories and visitors.

The exhibition unfolds over three axes. One highlights events and relationships that have shaped the museum collection. Another addresses the whole body of the visitor, seeking to break with the modernist, ocular, disembodied tradition. The exhibition explores touch, smell and various sensory combinations to access different registers of emotion and understanding. Finally, the stories within the exhibition are plural and contrasting. Diverse communities from Eindhoven offer their perspectives on the art held by their museum.

The demodern within the decolonial
The protocols of modern art and its exhibition forms have become problematic in the 21st century, as we learn more about the intimate connections between modernity and colonialism. In response, the museum has been working on demodernising its approach by breaking with the rhetoric and traditions of modernism. This is reflected in the architecture and design, in re-centering certain artworks and artistic voices, in combinations of objects classified as “art,” “ethnographic,” or “biological,” and in the multiple narratives at the heart of the exhibition’s mediation.

Multisensory In Delinking and Relinking the visitor will discover over 40 interventions ranging from tactile interpretations, newly designed scents, and musical compositions inspired by artworks. The Van Abbemuseum has been working with differently abled people to develop these new forms of mediation and these are shared with all our publics to offer a more holistic, embodied experience of art.

In Delinking and Relinking three different groups have created special tours through the exhibition. The Office of Queer Affairs, a queer community from Eindhoven developed a unique Love Letter Tour; a community of cultural professionals with body diversity created the Bodily Encounters Tour; and a local community interested in the legacies and continuities of Dutch colonial history produced the Broader Story Tour. These tours provide a playful and critical re-reading of the collection, hopefully adding new insights for other visitors and introducing overlooked or repressed narratives.

These stories are told in part through the museum app Smartify. The tours can be experienced in the museum but also outside of the museum. All tours are also available in Dutch sign language.

In autumn 2022 an exhibition catalogue will be published with essays presenting the ambitions and intentions of the exhibition, combined with many images of the exhibition and its individual artworks.

Participating artists
Tjong Ang, Willem Adams, Karel Appel, Rasheed Araeen, Mercedes Azpilicueta, Gam Bodenhausen, Boudry / Lorenz, stanley brouwn, Jean Brusselmans, Marc Chagall, Chryssa, Céline Condorelli, René Daniëls, Hanne Darboven, Ad Dekkers, Rineke Dijkstra, Marlene Dumas, Max Ernst, Lucio Fontana, Nilbar Güreş, Lubaina Himid, Isaac Israëls, Sanja Iveković, Patricia Kaersenhout, Gülsün Karamustafa, Karrabing Film Collective, Toon Kelder, Iris Kensmil, John Körmeling, Theo Kuijpers, Wifredo Lam, Fernand Léger, El Lissitzky, Lucebert, Joan Miró, László Moholy Nagy, Piet Mondriaan, Nabuurs&VanDoorn, Ahmet Ögüt, Otobong Nkanga, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Rodan Omomá, Gabriel Orozsco, Pieter Ouborg, Alicia Penalba, Constant Permeke, Stijn Peeters, Pablo Picasso, Wim van der Plas, Marjetica Potrc, Laure Prouvost, Michael Rakowitz, Gé Röling, Wilhelm Sasnal, Jan Schoonhoven, Ad Snijders, Mariëlle Soons, Pieter Stoop, Lily van der Stokker, Ellie Strik, Koki Tanaka, Charley Toorop, Roy Villevoye, Evi Vingerling, Henk Visch, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, Ossip Zadkine and Qui Zhijie.

Charles Esche, Diana Franssen, Steven ten Thije, together with the Van Abbemuseum team and many others too numerous to name here.