The artworks presented by the Amsterdam Ferry Festival take you on a journey through different perspectives and reflections on the climate crisis, collectivity whilst being alone on the ferry and invisible structures that monitor our behaviour on the ferry. The travellers of this nautic public transport are invited to reflect on the abundance of plastic in the IJ river, to listen to the voice of the North Sea, to think about what is normal and who decided that, and question our grip on nature when we watch the weather forecast. When the lights go out on the ferry and someone starts to sing an opera serenade, we are bound to surrender to these voices and the feelings they evoke until the lights turn on again and the surveillance cameras start to observe our behaviour again.
Ambassade van de Noordzee (Carmen Schabracq & Frank Bloem), Hans Boddeke, Marinus Boezem, Koos Busters, Alice Heron, Esben Ild, Rosa Sijben, Omar Vega Macotela (Kirila Kraal, Minyeshu Kifle, Brigitte van Hagen, Jasmine Karimova)
Curated by Inez Piso
Zeemond is an interactive installation in the amplified form of a hearing organ that belongs to a fish. The large scale installation is directly connected to the water, so when you lay your human ear on it, you are hearing the echo of the sea. Ambassade van de Noordzee aims at giving a voice to this important waterbody that surrounds us and claims we should listen carefully.
Frank Bloem extracted molecules from the North Sea and composed a smellable installation at the windows of the ferry in his work Zeelucht. This way we can absorb the molecules with our smelling organs and this refers to the idea of the sea containing more than we can observe with our naked eye: the smallest invisible particles are part of a balance that is easily disturbed.
Marinus Boezem made a work in the form of a flag that emerges from the apparent control that we think we have over nature. The flag he made depicts the high and low pressure areas that are part of a weather forecast. However, only when the wind starts blowing, the image becomes visible. Only the real-time wind forces provide us with access to the forecast and activates the materialization of the flag itself. A flag is an object that is generally used to appropriate some sort of ownership, but the nature and its tempered weather stay as unpredictable despite our efforts to control them.
Esben Ild’s works contain an apocalyptic message. These sculptures and their material dance around each other in an eternal contradiction. The life vest and waterwings are floatable objects that are supposed to help you survive and stay on the surface of the water. Now, as they are welded from metal they only seem to drown you faster. It seems like an amusal object where there is fundamentally something wrong, but it is in fact a warning for a future where nothing or nobody seems to be able to save us from drowning.
Alice Heron sees how nature is being overtaken by plastic and visualises this phenomenon in an installation that mimics a living organism. In the city center of Amsterdam the abundance of plastic might not be immediately visible, but when it’s recycled in a sculpture that seems to crawl onto the upper deck of the ferry, it draws attention to the savage way plastic is being multiplicated in our waters.
Omar Vega Macotela developed an opera piece for the ferry in collaboration with four opera singers (Kirila Kraal, Minyeshu Kifle, Brigitte van Hagen, Jasmine Karimova). The performance takes place during the night and the lights of the ferry temporarily are shut down which obliges the commuters to trust their hearing senses even more. A voice starts to sing from an undetermined corner of the dark and draws the attention of everyone’s ears. Then, another performer from another corner starts to sing until all four create a short serenade that changes the environment dramatically. The composition is based on the untranslatable feeling of Saudade: a portuguese word used when something is terribly missed but still present. It is used in relation to many nautic poetry and maritime melancholy. The opera singers are dressed as normal users of the public ferry and when the lights turn on no one knows who these voices belonged to. We only know that we experienced something collective and we are all in the same boat, at least until we reach the shore.
Rosa Sijben personifies an object by giving it a name. Sjaak takes its seat on the ferry among the other users. He attracts a lot of attention, and thereby every other daily object starts to be questioned as well. All objects and design that surround us during the ferry trip seem to have a defined function, except for Sjaak. He just takes up space. Many people complain that every year the ferry gets more crowded, as a mirror of the growing population and visitors in the city. The rush and chaos by people trying to get from A to B in the public space, is contradicted by the relaxed way in which Sjaak just sits there and takes up his space. During Museumnacht Rosa Sijben will read a poem by Dirk Raaijmakers that was her initial inspiration to create Sjaak. The poem is about a man who leaves a body warmth after he leaves his seat and proceeds on his way. The poet asks who or what will take his place after that fleeting moment of emptiness. Everything is temporary, and even more so at the ferry where a chain of fleeting moments continuously fill its space.
Koos Buster’s ceramic objects make the invisible of daily life visible through the wobbly way he forms the sculptures and exposes the way it is handmade. For the Amsterdam Ferry Festival he places a ceramic security camera and several ceramic glazed cigarette stubs in many corners of the ship. The presence of cigarettes in the public space of the ferry became invisible in the recent past. Besides the question whether that is a good thing or not, our behaviour is collectively monitored until no one can even imagine someone smoking on the deck anymore.
The camera made out of wobbly ceramics hung next to the actual functioning surveillance camera but is actually just to look at. While the real one is observing us, this work politely invites the commuter to be aware of the constant observation we are under.
In Hans Boddeke’s street photography the question of who is looking at who arises. He captures several moments and situations where the people of Amsterdam became the protagonists. The fleeting moments when someone’s umbrella breaks while crossing the street or repairing a facade of a working class house standing at a ladder are all part of a series of moments that are ephemeral in daily life but captured by Boddeke’s photographs. For the exhibition on the ferry these images are showcased through the nostalgic Master Viewer that underlines the voyeuristic elements of his photography.
Made possible with the generous support of the Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, ABN AMRO Cultuurfonds and Museumnacht Amsterdam.
Photo credits: Michiel Stock
Special thanks to: Noa Jansma, Leo Siemes, Emma Waslander, Robbie Schweiger, Maloney Amsterdam, Thijmen Doornik, Cristina Kolozsvary-Kiss, Michael Bucuzzo, Marc van Amerongen, De Kunstrijders.