Nam June Paik in the Stedelijk Museum

Two weeks ago I went to a press preview of an exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum (@stedelijkmuseum) in Amsterdam that up until now hasn’t opened for the public. The next day – the day of the opening – all museums in The Netherlands shut down to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Since that day the exhibition “Nam June Paik – The Future is Now” has been deserted, save from some museum personnel who are – for instance – watering the plants in one of the objects on view. I haven’t posted about the show yet, to save the momentum for when the museum reopens.

However: tomorrow, Friday 27 March, Stedelijk Museum curator Leontine Coelewij (@leontinecoelewij) will give an Instagram live story preview of the exhibition! Make sure you catch it: 14:00 Central European Time.

American/Korean artist Nam June Paik is internationally recognized as the pioneer of video-art. Being educated in philosophy and musical history Paik created several performances incorporating modern technology, one of the more notable ones involving a TV-bra. This was literally a bra, containing two tiny television-sets, worn by cellist Charlotte Moorman in a performance.

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam already held a retrospective on Paik in 1977, his first big solo show in The Netherlands. A year later the museum acquired the work “TV Buddha” (1974) which is on display in the first room of the exhibition.

The work consists of a black Buddha statue on one end of a plinth and a 70’s television set with a camera connected to it on the other end, filming the Buddha statue. A closed circuit, connecting past and present, East and West, spirituality and technology. When moved close enough to the statue, the visitor can become part of the work by getting in range of the camera.

Kudos by the way to the Stedelijk Museum time-based art maintenance team for keeping this work running! I can’t even get a 5 year old laptop to boot.

I will post more views from the exhibition once it is clear when it will re-open.