The WdKA Graduation Show of 2023 showcased the aspirations of a new generation of artists, designers, and educators. With 183 students presenting their projects, I had the privilege to witness their creative endeavours and gain insight into their perspectives (see overview with photos). In this review I describe the projects that caught my intention via different themes I encountered.
One prominent theme throughout the show that I noticed was identity. Several projects delved into the concept of family, such as ‘The Genius and Me’ by Arend Verburgh, ‘The Scars of Iraque’ by Sonja Aljebari, and ‘Who’ll be the Father’ by Gijs Grimm, which explored queer parenthood. The queer perspective was also present in Max den Hartog’s ‘Spetter Kalender’ and Chris Barts’ ‘Kaleidoscope of Perspectives’ which aimed to challenge binary thinking and offer a queer perspective. Other notable projects included Britt Stoltenhof’s exploration of gender expression and Lizzy van Rijn’s examination of how swear words perpetuate gender structures. There were also projects surrounding cultural identity like ‘In Pursuit of Tongo’ by Uedia Ballijn, the winner of this year’s Drempel Prize, ‘Where Chaos Meets Calm’, and ‘Island of Healing’. Additionally, ‘Free At Last’ by Eye Juice, a film that showcased street dancers and performances in Jamaica.
In my perception, there was a slight decrease in large socially engaged projects compared to the previous year, but the exhibition still featured thought-provoking works addressing critical issues. Marjolien vd Valk’s project post-fossil practices, Kathy Murillo examined the handling of sexual harassment cases by the police, and Tetsen Felen presented a project on the act of whistleblowing titled ‘Leaking as Publishing Work’.
Another recurring theme surrounding projects aimed at improving individual well-being, such as ‘Toad Tales’, about ADHD, ‘Dislexic Dislike’ by Victoria di Gioia, and Emma van den Nouweland’s card game project ‘I Just Hope You’re Okay’. Mariska Mulder’s ‘Restroom’ challenged visitors to prioritize rest and dream, while at the same time protest leaflets against WdKA budget cuts added an activist element to the exhibition.
The most prominent aspect for me this year was the focus on traditional tactile materials, for example: glass (‘Momentum’ by Rinke Joosten), sculpted wood, ‘Beam Dreams’, by Kasper Boelens, metal/concrete, ‘Being Soft is Hard’, by Siri Oksanen, pottery, ‘Rediscovered’ by Ilse Oudheusden, and textiles: ‘Serendipity’ by Marlou Linders, where Visitors were invited to: ‘touch the textiles, but please be careful’. ‘Woven Stories’ by Michiel Ploos van Amstel. Dark sculptures by Brody van Muijden, ‘Residue Left Behind’. ‘Brickscapes’, sculptures with bricks by Leonie Boschma, and intriguing colorful friendly sculptures “Once We were Objects” by Quin Scholten, and ceramics by Willem Cousins. Craft was also highlighted, with projects like the ‘H.I.P.E’. system by Daen Kroeze and Annemieke Laban’s wooden shoe designs. Tactile materials were also used in installations such as ‘Portal to the Hazy Place,’ by Vanda Vliaisicova; ‘Tales of the Extinct, Garden of the Extinct’, by Lorena Rode who created stories of ‘compassion, of honoring the lost, of crafting pedestals for life forms too often overlooked, forgotten, ignored’.
Another theme that often has my interest is (innovative) digital technology. I was curious how this generation would position themselves towards todays digital possibilities. I counted three projects directly related to artificial intelligence (Sofia Rodrigues and Christiaan Grit, explored the “I” in AI ). 3D printers (‘Biomimech’ by Johannes Heisenberg), and laser cutters were used by Nicolas Bouchard. Additionally, I counted 2 VR experiences. Ringdaile Demsyte immersed viewers in the fascinating language of fungi and Federico Ramirez had a VR project: ‘Where Shadows Dance’.
In conclusion, the graduation show of 2023 presented an impressive overview of projects. The diverse themes, innovative use of materials, and incorporation of technology demonstrated the talent and creativity of these students. I’m always excited to see how each year the students make their own decisions and chose their own research and presentation form. I only mentioned a meager 42 participants, but I thank all students for their dedication and commitment to contribute to our world.
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