In the exhibition Signed: Rotterdam! One and a half meter society City artists Erico Smit, Gwen Stok, Funs Janssen and Gemma Plum each give their own view of the impact of corona on Rotterdam. Commissioned by the City Archives and CBK Rotterdam, the artists will record the city from March 2020 to August 2021. The artists each portray a different phase of the pandemic.
Eric Smith focuses on the empty streets and emotions of Rotterdammers during the 'intelligent lockdown'. Gwen Stick imagines in her series View the craving for perspective during the hard lockdown. Funs Janssen focuses on the nightlife of Rotterdam just after the second lockdown. And the narrative drawings of Gemma Plum show the resilience of various Rotterdammers.
Through the eye of his GoPro camera, Erico Smit (1985) observes the different phases of the lockdown and the emotions it evokes in the people of Rotterdam. From the first shock and the choreography of movements that results from the spasmodic distance from each other, to the desire for freedom and the more relaxed attitude that gradually arises. Smit's drawings are a mix of ink, acrylic paint and pencil, which he then processes digitally. He only has an eye for his subject and omits all superfluous details, which magnifies the emotions of the crisis.
Gwen Stok (1983) asks several Rotterdammers to send pictures of the view from their windows. She combines these photos with impressions she gains herself during her walks and with what she hears in the news every day. This has been elaborated in a cartoon of separate drawings and a comic strip-like leporello, a zigzag folded drawing. The leporello symbolizes the grind of the hard lockdown and the days that merge into each other.
FUNS 'FUNZIG' JANSSEN
Who owns the city? This question returns in a different guise in the work of cinematographic illustrator Funs Janssen (1993), alias Funzig. As a city artist, he concentrates on nightlife. He finds the evenings and nights in the city magical. He is fascinated by the reflections and colors of the night. Funs visits the places where people come together again after the curfew, such as the West-Kruiskade and the Charloisse Hoofd.
Graphic designer Gemma Plum (1975) is fascinated by human behaviour. As a city artist, she is looking for the stories of Rotterdammers who were confronted with corona in different ways. She notes that during the pandemic, the nuances seem to have disappeared: you are for or against, you are in danger or dangerous, you adapt or are lost; you prosper or perish. Ordinary human behavior is under attack and scrutiny. In her 1,5 meter wide drawings, Plum seeks out those nuances and shows that not everything is so black and white.
ROTTERDAM CITY ARTISTS
Even before the bombing of 14 May 1940, but especially during the reconstruction, draftsmen recorded the changes in the city. Until the end of the eighties of the last century, the City Archives of Rotterdam annually commission draughtsmen. Due to the rapid changes, Rotterdam is an ideal source of inspiration. Since 80, this tradition has been reinstated in collaboration with CBK Rotterdam, and city artists are further adding to the collection of the Rotterdam City Archives.
The three city artists for 2021, Gwen Stok, Funs 'Funzig' Janssen and Gemma Plum, have been selected by a jury consisting of: Hugo Borst (Rotterdam writer, art lover and collector), Hedy Tjin (artist), Shehera Grot (Kunsthal), Ove Lucas (CBK Rotterdam) and Jantje Steenhuis and Wanda Waanders (Rotterdam City Archives).
Erico Smit is one of the three selected city artists for 2020. Due to the forced closure of the Kunsthal during the second lockdown at the end of 2020, no one has seen his work. That is why Smit's drawings are now again exhibited in the Kunsthal.