Rearrangement of Priorities #9 (HOME)
ROZENSTRAAT – a rose is a rose is a rose is proud to present Rearrangement of Priorities #9 (HOME), an exhibition by the Rainbow Soulclub.
The modification of expectations, of plans for the future, and the associated rearrangement of priorities is something that most members of the Rainbow Soulclub collective have to deal with every day. Besides artists and students, the group is largely made up of homeless Amsterdam citizens, undocumented migrants and long-term users of hard drugs. Re-evaluation and improvisation are therefore the point of departure for the collective’s exhibitions and presentations.
The collaboration between the members is egalitarian and unfolds in an organic process to which everyone who is able and willing contributes; often something is created that would never have arisen without the others. Tackling prejudices around homelessness and drug addiction is one of the group’s most important motifs. Presentations are a means of building a bridge between the relatively insular art scene and the world in which homeless people live, which to most people remains hidden.* With its exhibition at ROZENSTRAAT, Rainbow Soulclub is once again bringing these two worlds together and calling into question the boundary between art and social project.
Rearrangement of Priorities #9 (HOME) is composed of new and existing works complemented by videos and archive material. The title has a direct link with COVID-19 and the recent personal lives of members of the collective. At the start of the pandemic the City of Amsterdam transformed vacant buildings into temporary shelters, so for the first time in the sixteen years that the group has existed everybody had a roof over their heads. However, on 1 June 2021 this temporary provision was scaled back and the question is for how long the members will still have a ‘house’.
The use of home as the subtitle is a reference to the idea of a home in the broad sense. Being ‘at home’ is not just about having your own dwelling, but also existing in your body and in the clothing that you’re wearing. The exhibition therefore presents the Rainbow Soulclub Wardrobe Exchange, an interactive installation with clothing from the Blaka Watra drop-in centre for the homeless that is run by The Rainbow Group foundation,** where worn clothing can be swapped for clean clothing. Visitors to the exhibition can participate in this installation by exchanging one of their own garments for an item from this communal Blaka Watra wardrobe, and thus almost literally walk in the shoes of a homeless person in Amsterdam.*** How does it feel to share something as intimate as clothing with these fellow city-dwellers? What is it like to possess nothing, not even the clothing that you’re wearing? How does it feel if there’s nothing available in your size or to your liking? And what if there everything is available, except for a pair of long trousers?
A second reference to home can be found in three handmade carpets that are being presented. The ground is familiar territory for someone without a home, who in many cases sits and sleeps on it. A floor covering protects you from the chill of the ground. In a house it decorates, and is an invitation to sit down or move on it. The carpets in the exhibition are based on drawings by Rainbow Soulclub member AMP, who besides being a cook at the Blaka Watra drop-in centre is also an artist and dancer. The ‘symbols’ are a self-designed script to notate music and dance. Other members of the group decided to enlarge them as textile floor coverings, so that AMP’s drawings can be experienced in a physical way. These carpets – actually choreographies and songs – can be danced or sung.****
Rearrangement of Priorities questions the boundary between art and a social project. It is an exhibition in which the creation process plays an important part, while also not taking the lead. At the same time the Rainbow Soulclub is to a large degree made up of non-professional artists. Does that result in us looking at these works in a different way to how we would if they had been produced by professional artists? Or is it primarily about the work itself, about the collective’s objectives?
The intimate setting of the exhibition also serves as the base for a public programme that includes talks, meet & greets and workshops. For example, Floris van Alkemade, who serves as Chief Government Architect, and Nick Huls, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Law, will enter into a conversation with members of the Rainbow Soulclub. Keep an eye on our website for other related events!
The artists Saskia Janssen and George Korsmit established the Rainbow Soulclub in 2005, and since then its members have gathered regularly at their drawing table in the drop-in centre of The Rainbow Group, the foundation from which the collective takes its name. While thinking, chatting and creating they work on projects that are meant to be shared with the public, or indeed kept private. For it is just as much a solidarity group: members support each other with regard to mental well-being as much as in a practical sense. In recent years the collective has shown its work at presentation venues such as Cargo in Context (2019 and 2020), Pakhuis de Zwijger (2019), Club Solo Breda (2018), Plan-B (2017) and W139 (2007), as well as in public spaces like the Amsterdamse Bos woodland park, the Westerpark and during the Keti Koti festival.
* Instead of talking about ‘the homeless’, we prefer to talk about ‘people who are currently without a dwelling’ or ‘people who are experiencing homelessness’.
** The Rainbow Group foundation provides shelter and support for homeless people in Amsterdam.
*** All the garments have been worn in the streets of Amsterdam. Everything has been carefully washed and ironed, and provided with a special label for this exhibition.
**** Everyone is welcome to sleep or rest on the carpets (but please remove your shoes).
Rainbow Soulclub wishes to thank The Rainbow Group foundation, the DOEN Foundation-Bank Giroloterij and the Mondriaan Fund.