Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij

Jury report of the 2017 ABN AMRO Art Award

By granting the ABN AMRO Art Award to Saskia Noor van Imhoff (Mission, Canada, 1982) the jury has selected an artist who explores her surroundings in an idiosyncratic manner and makes unexpected connections in doing so. The process of ordering, exhibiting and archiving art plays a key role in her spatial installations. Van Imhoff shuffles everything together: painting, sculpture, design, poetry and architecture. She approaches objects like an archeologist, orders them with the meticulousness of an archivist and makes use of free, almost philosophical combinations that are not based on any existing hierarchy. In that sense Saskia Noor van Imhoff is a representative of the times, in which, partly due to the influence of the Internet, everything interrelates and can coexist.

By including and adapting the environment in her work, Van Imhoff keeps on telling new stories. In doing so she invites the viewer to observe and reflect in an unorthodox manner. The history of the art center De Appel, for instance, was brought to life by her ‒ via architectonic interventions ‒ by showing remnants from the past in a fairy-like, archeological setting; she had her work placed in the storage area of the Stedelijk Museum in order to apply its system of classification to her new work; and she raised the issue of authorship by including work by well-known artists in her own installations. Van Imhoff makes the invisible visible and, in that process, takes full command of the space and context in which she exhibits. It could be said that the context itself is ultimately her actual material.

The jury admires the work of Van Imhoff for its stratified, original and playful character. By reproducing and manipulating images, rearranging existing situations and by cleverly intervening in the architecture, she directs the viewer's gaze. Furthermore, her site-specific installations that involve air humidifiers and climate-control systems implicitly comment on man's behavior and our tendency to classify and preserve. Her work also stands out due to a subtle sense of material and composition that she manages to heighten in each new work. The work of Van Imhoff has developed from a classical language of forms, referring to art historical contexts and to the surroundings; but perhaps above all, it offers a glimpse into the mind of the artist as a formalized small Wunderkammer.

The ABN AMRO Art Award aims to be a stimulus for talent in the Netherlands. The quality and singularity of the work are primary criteria. Saskia Noor van Imhoff has been chosen as an artist who has a young but completely individual and intuitive visual language. Her meticulous investigations result in poetic and visually attractive installations, the logic of which the viewer can unravel while they remain unfathomable at the same time. It is precisely on that level of logic and enigma that the tension is raised. The artist has been convincing in major exhibitions in the Netherlands and abroad, but continues to be relatively unknown to a wider Dutch audience. The jury is please to grant the 2017 ABN AMRO Art Award to Saskia Noor van Imhoff.