What Aernout Mik gives us to see remains even more in our memory because it structurally remains insolvably mysterious in spite of their virtuoso cinematic descriptiveness.
Since the successes of his pieces “Reversal Room”, “Glutinosity”, and “Middlemen” (all 2001) at the very latest, the Dutch artist born in Groningen in 1962 can be counted amongst the most renown video artists of his generation.
His films, which have increased in complexity over the years, deal with the relationship between the individual and the mass and are underpinned by a moment of crises and the collapse of our social order. In often lavishly constructed sets and cast with amateur actors, Mik stages a swarm of latently catastrophic scenes with tragicomic undertones. Standing on the floor of a stock exchange covered with paper, brokers – some of whom are doubled with dummies – stare off into space with empty expressions (“Middlemen”, 2001). A fight takes place in a restaurant, but the other guests unexpectedly take no notice of it. (“Reversal Room”, 2001). The members of a rescue squad who appear for duty after a serious bus accident not only seem unusually uncoordinated, they also do not find any victims (“Refraction”, 2004), but a heard of unwatched sheep stoically beating a path through the human chaos instead. There is no recognizable cause for the encroaching chaos or constantly stirring acts of violence in Aernout Mik's world of irrevocable turmoil and insecurity. People seem like beings incapable of communicating, who are involved almost trance-like in activities that despite taking place in larger groups, never seem related to each other und basically exude an Beckett-like feeling of meaningless and aimlessness. Even more so as the artist does not only consequentially annul the principal of cause and effect in all of his artistic settings but also transforms that linearity of time into a tenacious, idle cyclic orbit. These latently surreal investigations into the incomprehensible structure of the collective attain their compelling spatial form by means of a production that consequentially breaks with the usual presentation of videos in a black box. The often-curved small walls that jut into the room with reverse projections running plane to the floor not only convincingly connect the image with the surrounding space but also directly integrate the viewer into the piece's area of influence without denying the artificiality of the scene.
In the exhibition “Shifting Shifting”, the Kunstverein Hannover will show central works created over the past two years by Aernout Mik for the first time in Germany: “Scapegoats”, “Raw Footage”, “Training Ground” and “Vacuum Room”. The exhibition “Shifting Shifting” was organized by the Camden Arts Centre, London, in cooperation with The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburg, the Bergen Kunsthall, Norway and the Kunstverein Hannover.