Helen Anna Flanagan. Gesticulating... Wildly

Helen Anna Flanagan, Gestures of Collapse, 2019
Helen Anna Flanagan, Gestures of Collapse, 2019

IKOB – Museum of Contemporary Art is pleased to present “Gesticulating… Wildly”, the first institutional solo exhibition of Rotterdam-based artist Helen Anna Flanagan. The video- and installation-based presentation brings together Flanagan’s Gestures film trilogy (2019-2020) for the first time, in which the artist positions characters in a particular public space and causes them to collide in peculiar ways. Echoing this choreographed approach, her films are embedded within a playful installation in IKOB’s exhibition space. Elements such as minimal brick walls, floor markings and sculptural works that draw from various film scenes simultaneously structure and unsettle the viewer’s experience. Flanagan’s primary concern is the exploration of how and why people act in certain ways, leading her to imagine how different characters might relate and react to the underlying structures of society and power.

Like the houseflies that act as a recurring motif throughout Flanagan's films, the exhibition implicates viewers in turn as passive observers, carriers of information, or invasive parasites. It thereby resonates with IKOB’s theme for 2021, Gossip. The 2021 programme considers the potential of gossip and rumours to bind us closer together as a society and aims to be a critical examination of the social contexts in which these shared stories and narratives are created and disseminated. Helen Anna Flanagan’s Gestures trilogy is a primary source of inspiration for this concept, as her work grants us entry to sites of encounter and engagement between different ideas and people, with rumours and stories woven throughout her works as contagious whispers.

This exhibition takes place following the 2019 IKOB Feminist Art Prize, where a jury consisting of Daniella Géo (formerly HISK, Gent), Louise Osieka (CIAP, Hasselt), Marie-Hélène Joiret (Chataigneraie, Flemalle) and Eva Wittocx (Museum M, Leuven) chose Helen Anna Flanagan for the first prize, leading to the invitation for a one-person exhibition at IKOB. Established in 1993 to promote emerging artistic practices, the IKOB Art Prize became the ‘Feminist Art Prize’ for the first time in 2019, inviting artists whose work contributes to the dissemination of feminist ideas to apply. The next edition of the IKOB Feminist Art Prize will take place in 2022.