Tryout workshop with Syrian artist Mosab Anzo at New Dakota, Amsterdam, 9-10 June, 2016
For their project MG&M Collective Gil & Moti received an R&D contribution from CBK Rotterdam. Sandra Smets spoke to them about this project in November 2016.
A painting, a two-channel video installation, a photo series and it remains to be seen - in their workshop in Charlois, Gil and Moti list the components of their latest project. MG&M Collective it is called, where one of the M's stands for the name Mosab Anzo, an artist who fled Syria. He had a thriving practice in Aleppo, in 2014 he ended up in Rotterdam via a complicated escape route. There Gil and Moti met him at Art Rotterdam last year, where he had a small presentation as an abstract lyrical painter. He came across their path at a time just when they were looking for refugee artists. And that, that search, is in turn a result of other projects.
At Gil and Moti, projects often run parallel, with mutual commitments, so that they can work on it for a longer period of time. A number of them included the refugee shelf. They talk about this working method at the end of November 2016, not long after their exhibition at the Nederlands Fotomuseum The Dutch Volunteers opened. This is about their stay in the West Bank, where they have been working intermittently for both camps over the past two years, hoping for more understanding of the polarized views. And oh yes, they have also just been invited to an artist-in-residency in Brazil from March 2017. Isn't that a bit much? "It helps to switch from one project to another, then your perspective changes," they respond with a perspective. “Sometimes we put a project on a lower heat for a while, then resume it. The Dutch Volunteers was so intense, then it helps to be able to take some distance. "
Moreover, it helps that the always time-consuming projects are interrelated. You come from one to the other, they explain. In earlier exhibitions, they came into contact with refugees and their flight stories - so that they became increasingly involved with this theme. In Stockholm and Basel they have already done projects with refugees, whom they met there. Unplanned projects, social sculptures, in which they entered into a conversation to see how you can get around in someone else and help someone.
"When we experience such an encounter, we drop everything and get to work." That means clothing, shelter, and in the meantime they turn this into works of art with video registration. But a collaboration on an artistic level, with a refugee artist, can contribute to both art and the refugee debate. Meanwhile, back in the Netherlands, they went in search of refugee artists, visited exhibitions, but saw no substantive reflection on migration, identity, and decided to develop a model for this themselves.
They decided on one artist-in-residency at New Dakota, to meet several refugee artists in a performative situation. But it became Mosab. “He was open to everything, showed an enormous interest. Thus we have drawn, photographed, and moved into each other. We are not interested in abstract art, but together with him we started to look at abstract art in museums, to compare his poetic approach with this European art history. ”
That became a matter of looking around a lot where Gil and Moti approached their contacts for Mosab, in order to give him access to the system to which they have access after eighteen years in the Netherlands. That gives him a network and gives the collaboration equivalence that is essential to it MG&M Collective. In the meantime, they talk and sketch a lot, because even though Gil and Moti are the directors in the first instance, it was important to work on a situation in which they are equal.
That collaboration resulted in a number of artworks that are now in the making - painting, video, and photography. "In Mosab's view, we supplemented the plans with a photo series in which he looks at art - the view of the refugee in the Netherlands, as a figure on the back in which you as a spectator can relate." The video is a dialogue on two cameras - a trip along Schiphol, Ter Apel, a Syrian dinner, Cobra Museum. There is a heavy theme underneath, but with a playful approach. In 2017, the whole will premiere as an exhibition in New Dakota in September, at the opening of the cultural season. An exhibition in which the abstract refugee issue recovers the human dimension. This contains existing individual work by Mosab as well as by Gil and Moti, as well as new work that the three of them made. "In this way the exhibition becomes a triptych: about the past, the present, and who knows the future."
Publication date: 04 / 01 / 2017