Artist talks: Sara Blokland and Femmy Otten

Date: 24/11/2017

Time: 15.30 - 17.00

Location: Castrum Peregrini

In this afternoon conversation, artists Sara Blokland and Femmy Otten talk about their work in relation to the topic of the exhibition Some Things Hidden. Both artists have been invited to make a site-specific installation in the former artist’s studio of Gisèle on the top floor of Castrum Peregrini, an original WWII safe house.

Sara Blokland is a visual artist and independent reseacher who predominately works with photography and film. Her work reflects on the complicated role of this medium in relation to (postcolonial) cultural heritages.

Femmy Otten explores beauty through wood, plaster and paper. From these materials, she creates elegant sculptures, reminiscent of archetypal figures from Greek and Egyptian mythology, yet fresh and contemporary. What hidden histories or mechanisms do these artists want to make visible? And what stories do they hide in their work – possibly even in plain sight?

Performances Marijn Ottenhof and Alexis Blake

Date: 25/11/2017

Time: 13.00 - 15.00

Location: Castrum Peregrini

Artists Marijn Ottenhof and Alexis Blake have been invited to create a new performance for the exhibition Some Things Hidden. Both performances take place in the former artist’s studio of Gisèle on the top floor of Castrum Peregrini, an original WWII safe house.

Alexis Blake has a multidisciplinary practice that coalesces fine art, movement and performance. She investigates the way in which the body is represented and treated as an archive, which she then critically examines, disrupts and re-negotiates. For her new performance, Blake will look into the complexities of anger and empathy.

Marijn Ottenhof investigates social systems and the human need for rules and logic. By disturbing these structures, she questions existing structures of power, dominance and expectations. Language often plays an important role in her performances. It can be a vessel for communication, but also function as a surface beneath which other narratives are hidden.


Start date: 18/11/2017

End date: 26/11/2017

Time: 12-18 hrs

Location: Castrum Peregrini


About hiding as a way of a staying alive



A two-fold exhibition with in-situ works and performances at Castrum Peregrini 18 – 26 November 2017 and an extensive group exhibition at Framer Framed 18 January – 11 March 2018.


Castrum Peregrini
18-26 November 2017
Open daily 12-18 hrs (Monday closed)

Some Things Hidden is an exhibition about things that are hidden and about hiding as a way of survival. The first part of the exhibition will take place from 18 to 26 November at Castrum Peregrini, a former WWII hiding place on Herengracht in the historic centre of Amsterdam. At the invitation of curator Nina Folkersma and artist Charlott Markus seven artists present new or existing works especially for this location: Alexis Blake (US, 1981), Sara Blokland (NL, 1969), Zhana Ivanova (BG, 1977), Charlott Markus (SE, 1974), Shana Moulton (US, 1976), Femmy Otten (NL, 1981) and Marijn Ottenhof (NL, 1985).

Hiding is a way of staying alive.
This exhibition’s point of departure is artist Charlott Markus’ personal story about her great aunt, a petite Jewish woman who hid in the open, fully visible in Berlin’s World War II. As a former safe house and a cultural institution that links history to current social issues, Castrum Peregrini provides a meaningful context for Some Things Hidden. The exhibition allows the visitor to reflect upon questions such as: What does ‘hiding’ mean today? What threats do we have to hide from? What things do we hide from ourselves? And what are the possibilities of hiding in our current, highly-digitized world? According to the English poet and author David Whyte, ‘hiding’ is necessary in order to protect ourselves from misunderstandings, oppression and control by others. “Hiding is a way of staying alive” – this multi-layered idea forms the core of the exhibition.

The second part of Some Things Hidden is on view at Framer Framed from 18 January to 11 March 2018. In addition to the works of the abovementioned artists, this exhibition contains works by: Hélène Amouzou (TG, 1969), Lynn Hershman Leeson (US, 1941), Bertien van Manen (NL, 1942), Cauleen Smith (US, 1957) and Batia Suter (CH, 1967).

The two-fold exhibition consists of a carefully selected combination of new and existing works by emerging and internationally renowned artists from different generations. At Castrum Peregrini, emphasis is placed on new performances and in-situ works, presented in the original studio of Gisèle, artist and founder of Castrum Peregrini. For example, one of the artists, Femmy Otten, presents her work in the midst of Gisèle’s collected objects and art works as a form of ‘hiding in plain sight’. Performance artist Alexis Blake holds open rehearsals for her new project Anger/Empathy about suppressed emotions and how the body stores them as an archive.

In Framer Framed, the performances will get a physical form and the exhibition is further completed by spatial works, video installations and photography. Here, the ‘hidden’ is placed in another social context: What stories get less attention and are thus ‘hidden’ in society? What parts of our history are not told? Together, the exhibitions offer a range of female perspectives and reflections on the phenomenon of ‘hiding’.

In addition to the exhibition at Castrum Peregrini, there is a public programme with artist talks and performative ‘gestures’ during Amsterdam Art Weekend. More information about the exhibition and the public programme at Framer Framed follows in a later press release.


Public programme at Castrum Peregrini

Saturday 18 November 16:30 hrs

Vernissage with introduction by Charlott Markus and Nina Folkersma


Friday 24 November 15:30 hrs

Artist Talk with Sara Blokland and Femmy Otten, moderated by Oscar van den Boogaard

Saturday 25 November 13:00 hrs

Performative ‘gestures’ by Alexis Blake and Marijn Ottenhof


Some Things Hidden is curated by Nina Folkersma and Charlott Markus and is part of The Female Perspective year programme 2017, curated by Nina Folkersma. The Female Perspective is made possible by the Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst and Mondriaan Fonds.

For more information: Frans Damman: +31 20 623 52 87


Public talk
On the complexities of curating
politically contested subject matter

In the wake of complex and highly politicized issues such as identity politics, minority rights and the refugee crisis a debate has broken out regarding the ethics and politics of representation of such subjects in contemporary visual arts. While many arts projects stem out of a genuine interest and involvement, others have been naïve or opportunistic. This has created a backlash about what can and cannot be represented and raised issues about the limits of freedom of artistic expression.

The curator and artist, no doubt, have a responsibility towards society that goes beyond the creation of images to be consumed. What are the ethical issues that arise in such circumstances, and how does one deal with the problems of representation that are inherent to curating politically sensitive topics? How can artists and curators avoid the traps and pitfalls involved in any artwork or exhibition dealing with such issues? Who has the right to represent whom and why? What are the artistic and curatorial ethics that need to be taken into consideration? And, finally, is excessive political correctness stifling the freedom and genuine criticality of art and narrowing the scope of debate? Based on a recent exhibition as a case study, Katerina Gregos will attempt to offer a reflection on how to navigate these complex issues.


Language: English
Entrance € 5 – seats are limited.

Katerina Gregos’ Public Talk is part of: The Female Perspective year programme 2017 curated by curator Nina Folkersma. The programme previously featured:

Reasonable Doubt by Mieke Bal, Artist weekend Women and resistance with a.o. Ronit Porat and Pieter Paul Pothoven. And from November 2017: Some Things Hidden an exhibition in collaboration with Charlott Markus on two locations, first part at Castrum Peregrini (November 2017) and then at Framer Framed (January 2018) for part two.