Impressively Oppressive: Kunstpreis Aachen 2008 for Aernout Mik

Aernout Mik, Glutinosity (2001)

Today Dutch video artist Aernout Mik (b. 1962) receives the Kunstpreis Aachen 2008 at the Ludwig Forum, where an exhibition of his work will be on display until March 1, 2009. According to the jury report, Mik is one of the most internationally renowned video artist of his generation, specifically mentioning his 2001 works Reversal Room, Glutinosity and Middlemen.

Aernout Mik, The Kitchen (1997)

Mik’s work is simultaneously recognisable and alienating. Videos, objects and photographs are being shown in an entirely new architectural set-up which he inserts inside a museum. In the videos themselves the protagonists are subject to manipulation and groping their way through life. In The Kitchen (1997) three elderly men are messing about in a domestic environment like small kids, alternately engaging in slow and pointless mock fights and hugging each other. As in many of Mik’s videos, the silence with which the protagonists undergo their fates is oppressive. The Kitchen could have been slapstick, but instead we are confronted with the fragility of human existence in, as Saskia Bak calls it in The Low Countries, the dislocated and disconcerting world of Aernout Mik’.

Next to some older works, a special Mik exhibition at the New York MoMA (May 5–July 28, 2009) will also include the projection of a newly commissioned two-screen work, for which footage was being filmed in Amsterdam last October (see photo above).

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