Aernout Mik

21 April – 19 June 2005

Vacuum Room

video installation

opening Wednesday 20 April 2005 at 6pm
exhibition open: Tuesday - Sunday, noon to 6pm - free entry

The Centre for Contemporary Images is proud to present the latest work by Dutch artist Aernout Mik, Vacuum Room (2005). Aernout Mik's installations mix performance, theater, sculpture and video art. 

Aernout Mik, Vacuum Room, 2005

He stages situations that involve groups of people with scenes that puts us in mind collective archetypal images: a riot (Glutinosity, 2001), a crash of the stock market (Middlemen, 2001), waiting refugees (Flock, 2002), or a scene of pillaging (Pulverous, 2003). The people in his films seem to be in their proper place, exactly where they should be, until in the course of observing them we discover certain details that don't quite fit, behavior that is inadequate and unexpected. Indifferent, Mik's camera passes over these incongruities, neutralizes tham, and brings us back to a reality that is more reassuring, until still other oddities surface in the image. Thus, we are constantly veering back and forth between realism and fiction.

Aernout Mik, Dispersion

In his video installations, Mik drops us right into a middle of some critical situation whose causes are always unknown to us and whose effects are never revealed. We are transported to a space where time is drawn out and any plot has been obliterated; there is neither beginning not end, only the perception of the passage of time and a state of being.

Aernout Mik, Pulverous, 2003, exhibition view at carlier | gebauer, Berlin, 2003

With this new work, we enter the setting of a meeting room and watch as some 30 politicians debate while seated behind their desks.The image (the sound has been cut) show us discussions that seem to be quite raucous, with participants attempting to make themselves heard and vote, leaving the room and coming back. Over the reigning disorder is superimposed the arrival of a group of young protestors who occupy the center of the room and find themselves separated from the political community by a barrier of furniture. They impose a protest on this deteriorating atmosphere but it, too, proves just as wild and anarchic. As both groups clash, more and more a frozen vacuum evolves where all people and space seems to merge in one another. Resulting in unexpected moments of quiet equilibrium in the space. Two groups, clearly distinguished by separate fashion codes and supposedly in conflict, reveal similar behaviors in the end, incomprehensibble but clearly visible to the viewer and doomed to come to nothing. The space itself grows disorganized in the face these contradictory impulses, then is restructured, or remains frozen, symbolizing the impasse that exists in the two parties and in the dynamics between the two parties.

The performance brought together around 50 professional and non-professional actors, who were filmed with six surveillance cameras. Outside of their context, in a place reserved for public debates, these cameras offers us circumscribed points of view and hence a fragmentary view of the situation. Normally in the artist's films movement of the camera is worked out in advance. The slow tracking shots and the shifts forward and backward are deliberately planned in order to act upon the viewer's perception. Here the cameras were all programmed to change frame at the same time, filming with the same degree of attention now the setting and the space, now the intense action playing out there.

Aernout Mik, Vacuum Room, 2005

Viewers are completlely immersed in the action , and are not able to control the whole scene, as are the actors within it. Surrounded by six projections, they physically experience the moving image and, plunged into the heart of the debates, are led to wonder about their role as universal citizens.

Vacuum Room is a co-production of the Centre for Contemporary Images, Saint-Gervais and Argos, Brussels, with the help of Berlin Beamsystems, Amsterdam.

Aernout Mik, Vacuum Room, 2005


Aernout Mik

was born in Groningen in 1962, Netherlands. He lives and works in Amsterdam.
Solo Exhibitions (selection)

MCA, Chicago
UCLA Hammer Museum, L.A.

Ludwig Museum, Cologne *
Haus der Kunst, Munich *
The Project, New York
Museo Passión, Valladolid, Spain
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, USA

The Project, Los Angeles
Flock, Magasin 3, Stockholm Konsthall
Pulverous, carlier | gebauer, Berlin
CaixaForum, Barcelona *

Reversal Room, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam
Fundació Miro, Barcelona, Spain
CAC, Vilnius, Lithuania

Reversal Room, The Powerplant, Toronto, Canada *
Middlemen, carlier | gebauer, Berlin

Simulantengang, Kasseler Kunstverein, Kassel, Germany
3 Crowds, ICA, London *

Small Disasters, Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam
Hanging Around, Projektraum Museum Ludwig, Cologne
Softer Catwalk in Collapsing Rooms, Galerie Gebauer, Berlin


Group Exhibitions (selection)

InSite - Art Practices in the Public Domain. San Diego / Tijuana, Mexico /USA
Trial of Power, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin
Whatever happened to social democracy., Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmö, Sweden

26th Bienal de Sao Paulo
World Wide Video Festival, Amsterdam

MAC-Galeries Contemporaines, Marseille, France
Festival of Video Art, State Hermitage and State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg*

French Collection, MAMCO, Geneva
Ce Qui Arrive, Fondation Cartier, Paris *

Berlin biennale 2, Berlin *
München and PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York*

The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan
Still Moving, Contemporary Photography, Film and Video from the Netherlands

In All the Wrong Places, Ottawa Art Gallery, Canada
Glad ijs, Stedelijke Museum, Amsterdam

* Projets ayant fait l'objet d'une publication.


Bibliography (Selection)


'Aernout mik', Fundacion "la Caixa", Barcelona 2003, texts by Dan Cameron and Jorge Wagensberg and an interview between Marta Gili and Aernout Mik

'Elastic', Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, Amsterdam 2002, text by Daniel Birnbaum: "How to misunderstand Aernout Mik in twelve steps"

'Aernout Mik - Reversal Room', The Power Plant, Toronto 2002, text by Phillip Monk

'3 Crowds' ICA, London 2001, texts by Anne Walsh, Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen.

'Post Nature - Nine Dutch Artist', 49a Biennale di Venezia, 2001, text by Frederic Paul: "Aernout Mik - Confusing Sensations"

'Tender Habitat / Three Works by Aernout Mik' Jean Paul Slusser Gallery, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (US) 2000, with an interview between Anne Walsh and Aernout Mik

'Primal Gestures, Minor Roles' Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven 2000, texts by Jaap Guldemond and Jan Debbaut, Maxine Kopsa, Mark Kremer, Tijs Goldschmidt, Bernhard Balkenhol

'NL - Contemporary Art from the Netherlands', Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven 1998, text by Jaap Guldemond: "Aernout Mik - Wie die Räume gefüllt werden müssen"


Articles (selection)

Artforum, Christopher Miles, "Aernout Mik, The Project", Mai 2003.

Artpress, Catherine Francblin, "Aernout Mik, retour au point mort", Mai 2003

Mouvement, Anne Bonnin, "Etat du monde/État de conscience", été 2003

Beaux Arts, Frédéric Paul, "Aernout Mik, Transes de Vie", Fév. 2003.

Kunst Bulletin "(T)raumatische Ortsbegehungen" Mars 2002.

Art Press no. 265, L. Boubounelle "Aernout Mik" Fév. 2001.


Videographie (selection)

Dispersion Room, 2 screen video installation, digital video on hard disc edition of 4 + 2 a.p.

Pulverous, video installation, digital video on hard disc edition of 4 + 2 a.p.

Flock, 2 screen video installation, digital video on DVD, edition of 4 + 2 a.p.