artist / participant


press release

Willem de Rooij
18.04.2015 - 26.06.2015
Opening: 17.04.2015 17:30–20:00

Grief during the funeral of Israeli army captain Gad Marsha at a military cemetery in Jerusalem. Marsha and Dutch-born sergeant-major Jonathan Vermeulen were killed on Thursday while trying to dismantle a bomb on the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip (Photo AP / NRC Handelsblad 30-12-00), detail from Willem de Rooij: Index. Riots, Protest, Mourning and Commemoration ( as represented in newspapers, January 2000- July 2002), 2003, 18 panels, newspaper clippings on paper.
This spring Index presents an exhibition by Dutch artist Willem de Rooij, his first solo presentation in Sweden. De Rooij’s work is multifaceted and includes in many instances the work of other artists or artefacts from historical and anthropological collections, forming temporary groupings and creating new layers of meaning. This contextual gesture or act of framing draws attention to the relationship between cultural identity and memory, collecting and display. Many of de Rooij’s recent works are reduced, almost abstract, and seemingly devoid of any explicit meaning or reference. In these installations, meaning is not produced by an object or image alone, but in the relationship between the things we see, their context and our own act of reading.

For his exhibition at Index, de Rooij further investigates the relationship between images and meaning through an installation that consists of two different works that explore the mechanics of representation. His installation Index: Riots, Protest, Mourning and Commemoration (as represented in newspapers, January 2000- July 2002) consists of 18 large panels with a selection of photographs cut from newspapers. The installation is an impressive selection of global political struggles, which also invites a closer look into the mechanics of representation: how do people present themselves “in protest”? And who is making a picture of them, and for whom? The work is reminiscent of the history of image collections, such as the Mnemosyne Atlas by German art historian Aby Warburg, started in 1927. De Rooij presents the images separated from their captions – though captions and sources can be found in a separate book that is present in the exhibition space. But in difference to Warburg, Index avoids to suggest historical archetypes and rather to question the classification of images that the work’s title implies.

The second work is a new interpretation of one of a series of bouquet works by the artist, which each explore different formal and/or socio-political concepts. Bouquet V, 2010, consists of 95 different flowers loosely arranged in a spherical shape in a cylindrical vase. Each of the flowers occurs only once in the bouquet, avoiding a hierarchy of colour, species or type, and each individual flower remains visible within the whole. The bouquet poetically symbolises a concept of diversity and the tension between the individual and the collective.

Willem de Rooij (born 1969 in Beverwijk, Netherlands) studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie (1990–95) and a resident at Rijksakademie (1997-1998), both in Amsterdam. He worked in collaboration with Jeroen de Rijke from 1994 to 2006, with whom he represented The Netherlands at the Venice Biennale in 2005. Recent solo exhibitions by Willem de Rooij include Weltkulturenmuseum Frankfurt, Witte de With Rotterdam (both 2015), Arnolfini in Bristol (2014-15), Jewish Museum, New York (2014), Bergen Kunsthall (2013) and Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2010). He is a professor at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main, Germany since 2006.

A book will be published in collaboration with Arnolfini, Bristol, MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, with texts by Sven Lütticken and Pablo Martinez.

The exhibition is a collaboration with Arnolfini, Bristol, with kind support by the Mondriaan Fund and Peroni.