Intervention #9 Ten To One

Sylvie Zijlmans & Hewald Jongenelis, Ten To One, 2008
Sylvie Zijlmans & Hewald Jongenelis, Ten To One, 2008

From 28 February Sylvie Zijlmans and Hewald Jongenelis are showing their new project ‘Ten To One’ at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. The installation is dominated by a wall-sized photograph of a large party in a field. Upon closer examination it becomes apparent that there are only ten guests, each of them depicted ten times in a different outfit. The outfits have been made by a hundred different Chinese tailors. In the magazine that accompanies the installation, the artists have put a face to these tailors, thus shedding new light on the global social and economic reality.

Zijlmans and Jongenelis invited ten friends to a meal on ten consecutive days in field in the Dutch countryside. Each day they shifted the friends, the tables and the food closer to the horizon. They then assembled the photographs of the ten meals into a single image of a large party. Each friend appears ten times in the photograph, each time in a different outfit. The colours are carefully balanced: the outfits in the background are more brightly coloured than those in the foreground so that they attract equal attention and because of the expanse of blue sky there are no blue outfits.

Zijlmans and Jongenelis commissioned a hundred different tailors in Beijing to make the outfits, not only because this made the outfits more affordable but also to show that the real world is at least ten times larger that that of the friends in the field. Each of us in the West is probably connected with thousands of Chinese, Thai, Filipino, Indonesian and Indian workers through the products with which we fill our lives. Zijlmans and Jongenelis travelled to Beijing to meet the tailors. Some of them operate according to the Western model and have large shops and warehouses, but the artists also found themselves in workshops no larger than their own bedrooms in which a whole family lives.

By being multiplied by ten, each person in the photograph has been rendered an anonymous figure. However, the magazine ‘Ten To One’ introduces us personally to the hundred tailors behind the outfits. The artists photographed a hundred shop fronts, workshops, outfits and tailors. Even the labels sewn into the outfits and the sales receipts are given a place in the magazine, which is part of the installation. The magazine with a text by the philosopher and writer Dirk van Weelden is being published in an edition of 1000 and is available from the museum shop.

The museum is giving contemporary art a prominent place in its new displays in the form of three artist’s presentations that reflect upon the collection and the building. These visual statements are intensified through alternation with works from the permanent collection, establishing a dialogue that heightens the senses and encourages contemplation.

The exhibition and publication have been made possible by The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture (project grant) and H+F Patronage (exhibition and publication).
H+F Patronage, a foundation initiated at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen by patron Han Nefkens for a period of five years, aims to stimulate contemporary art and artists at an international level and bring them to the public's attention. This is achieved by facilitating projects and exhibitions at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.