Wendelien Van Oldenborgh, Après la reprise, la prise, 3 slide projectors, synchronised sound and subtitles in English separately projected, 15 min, 2009

The Past is Never Dead

Wendelien van Oldenborgh

A Space Main Gallery

April 3 – May 7, 2010

Essay by: Helena Reckitt

Copresented by: Netherlands Consulate, Mondriaan Foundation, The Images Festival

Award winning exhibition! Wendelien van Oldenborgh -- for The Past is Never Dead at A Space Gallery -- is the winner of the Marian McMahon Award Presented by the Images Festival and sponsored by Kodak Canada. This award honours strong work in autobiography, the complexity of subject and the spirit of Marian McMahon.

Due to popular demand, The Past is Never Dead has been extended by one week. It closes on May 7th.

Images Festival and A Space Gallery are very pleased to present the premiere North American exhibition of Rotterdam artist Wendelien van Oldenborgh. Through her rich and layered strategies of combining social research with documentary methodologies, van Oldenborgh creates both still and moving image projections that examine the role of individuals within broader political and social environments.

Examining notions of women, work and cultural production, Après le reprise, la prise (2009) is rooted in the story of the labour strikes and subsequent closure of four Levi’s factories in Belgium and France in the 1990s. Almost 2000 workers, most of whom were women who had worked with Levi’s their entire working lives, spent months bargaining and demonstrating to no avail, some groups even initiating dialogues to lower their wages in an attempt to keep the factories open.

Also on view will be the recent work Instruction, which addresses the unresolved, traumatic events of the Dutch military intervention in Indonesia following World War II, euphemistically called a “police action.” The film casts a group of young cadets from the Royal Netherlands Military Academy who perform a script consisting of excerpts and quotes from different sources:  personal diaries, historical broadcast transcripts related to the topic, and essays, that all in a more or less direct way tackle collective responsibility and the heritage of the colonial past.


Wendelien van Oldenborgh was born in Rotterdam and bases her practice there. After graduating from Goldsmiths’ College in London, she worked in Belgium and Germany for many years. Van Oldenborgh investigates the political, social and cultural relationships in our society and how these are openly manifested through everyday social intercourse. During the past few years, Wendelien van Oldenborgh has had solo exhibitions in Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), Muhka (Antwerp), Tent (Rotterdam), Casco (Utrecht) and the Musée des Beaux Arts (Mulhouse), Witte de With, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen and the Kuenstlerhaus Stuttgart, 10th Istanbul Biennal and the 28th Biennial of São Paulo.

Helena Reckitt is Senior Curator of Programs at The Power Plant in Toronto and is on the adjunct faculty of Art History at York University. With a background in publishing and public programming as well as curating, Reckitt has previously worked at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Georgia, the ICA, London, and Routledge, London.