What Remains - Between beauty and decay

CODA Museum | 04.09.2016 to 22.01.2017

Throughout the centuries, the friction between beauty and decay has been represented and sublimated in art. Various genres like the vanitas still lifes, the ‘guilty’ landscape and the portrait derive their attraction from the spectators’ experience of beauty. Commissioned by CODA director Carin Reinders, guest curator Wim van der Beek selected works from 15 artists to make a stimulating and varied exhibition that visualises various aspect of decay.

The aesthetics of waste material versus the limits of consumer society, the hopeful prospect of new chances or extension of life, the issue of homelessness; it is all inextricably linked to the way we in our modern society deal with anything that is old and worn or has become marginalised. Today’s society struggles with all kinds of processes that are linked to the finite nature of life and the period of decline that precedes it. Visual artists hold up a mirror to society by offering different perspectives. They show that there is beauty to be found in decay or they magnify the decline so as to make the confrontation painful and harsh. The process of growing awareness involves a broad spectrum of emotions: resignation, anger, fear, doubt, melancholy, nostalgia and the struggle with the idea of transience.

What Remains

Art and decay: a paradox

What Remains shows different aspects of decay. Physical, mental, moral, material, social, natural and architectural decay, aging and old age, waste and recycling, natural decomposition processes, discarded objects and obsolete meanings and techniques are all addressed in this exhibition. The exhibition in CODA Museum also shows that visual art that sublimates and immortalises decay goes further than the decay itself. There is a strange paradox here: art that has decay as its subject can acquire permanent significance and so escape the grasp of the decline that forms the basis of the artwork. And those who look beyond decay can also find beauty and peace. Still, visitors of What Remains will not be able to avoid the dilemmas surrounding decay and the finite nature of life. The knowledge that decay can offer soothing beauty does offer a hopeful perspective, however.

Participating artists

Chris Jordan (VS) , Jeshoshua Rozenman (D/NL), Jan Banning (NL), Frans Beerens (NL), Martine Feipel & Jean Bechameil (L), Hugo Tieleman (NL), Nicolas Dings (NL), Ken’ichiro Taniguchi (JP), Andreas Hetfeld (D), Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre (F), Hans Op de Beeck (B), Sébastien van Malleghem (B), Jan Eric Visser (NL), Ivo Kamphuis (NL)

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