We are delighted to announce our forthcoming solo exhibitions of recent work by Charlie Koolhaas.
“Light at the end of the tunnel” is at once photography, sculpture and social commentary that presents an alternative to the usual flatness of photography. Artist Charlie Koolhaas’ folded photographic sculptures are charged with a low-tech hyper-reality that put the viewer directly into the places, corners and streets of various global cities like Guangzhou, Dubai and Rotterdam. Her series Urban Village City Folds are three dimensional images of alleyways in China where the buildings literally touch each other, and that through their three dimensionality have become actual places rather than simply representations.
Charlie Koolhaas will also present her latest book “What happened in Rotterdam”, her personal account of life in the city in which she has lived since 2011, whose cultural exchanges and hybrids she vividly investigates using both writing and photography.
The artist will give a short presentation at both openings.
Dutch artist and writer Charlie Koolhaas grew up in London, UK and currently operates a studio out of Rotterdam, Netherlands where she lives. Since Graduating with a BA in Sociology from New York University, she started her career working in magazines as editor and contributor of her writing and photography.
After receiving an MA in Interactive Media from Goldsmith University in 2004 she moved to Guangzhou, China where she founded and edited the international journal UNIT magazine. In 2007 Charlie co-curatored the Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture, China. In 2015 The Praga Historical Museum, Warsaw, Poland opened for which Charlie worked as curator and exhibition designer and contributed two photographic installations.
Her Photography has been featured in a variety of exhibitions including The Venice Biennale, Italy and Dubai Next at Vitra Design Museum, Switzerland and Get it Louder, China. Her solo show True Cities was exhibited in Berlin, London and Eindhoven between 2009 and 2012. Her book Metabolism Trip and Evolving Spaces were published in 2012.
In 2013 Charlie Koolhaas held a position as a visiting professor of Visual Culture Studies at TUDelft, Netherlands. Along with her summer photography course ‘Urban Treasures‘ in 2014 at Strelka in Moscow, she has been a visiting lecturer at universities ETH Zurich, HEAD Geneva and Harvard Design School. She will start teaching in the Radical Cut-up MFA at the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam in September 2017.
I’m interested in documenting the process through which multi-culturalism spurns new cultural hybrids, to examine the meaning of ‘identity’ at a time when identities are constantly dissolved and re-made. I hope that my work is a new take on globalism that contradicts the current pessimism and movement towards nationalism. My photographs, books and exhibitions show creative moments and unexpected possibilities created by globalization – a network of unlikely connections that are never-the-less rooted in massive global divides. My photographs aim to raise the question ‘what is authentic in the face of mainstream global culture and a connected market economy? To answer this question I have studied places such as China, Dubai, Nigeria, where new forms of integration and harmony are appearing that are different from the concept of tolerance that we struggle with in the west.
I take the city as the place in which to investigate these cultural exchanges and hybrids. The city is the incubator for this emerging multicultural world and the stage for all the tensions that arise from the clashing together of differing ideologies and lifestyles. In my images and writing, even seemingly mundane urban scenes allude to past dramas; they capture how cities are always changing and accumulating new layers and traces of intertwining stories.
My studies are in sociology and cultural theory and I am influenced by political thinkers such as Slavoj Zizek, who regard the surfaces and minute details of everyday life as the manifestations of political ideologies. Since 2000 I have used photography as an intuitive tool with which to describe and explain cultural phenomena, seeing my work as social commentary above anything else. I enforced my commitment to theory in 2013 when I held a position as a visiting professor of Visual Culture Studies at TUDelft, Netherlands.
I have had the experience of a varied career where I experimented with various mediums such as magazine editing, writing, film-making and curating, during which my life as a professional photographer developed concurrently – since 2000 I have been contributing to magazines and books with my photography. Due to my interest in three dimensional spaces and the making of installations that describe my concepts in a more literal way – by putting viewers directly into the places that I investigate, or into the books that I have made. I have come naturally to a life as an artist, not through the conventional routes within the art world, but rather intuitively because it allows me to combine the many mediums that I want to utilize in the discourse that I want to have about global culture.