Art Antwerp

15 Dec 2022 - 18 Dec 2022

For Art Antwerp 2022 Dürst Britt & Mayhew is proud to present a solo exhibition by video artist Puck Verkade.

This year Puck Verkade has participated in ‘Manifesto of fragility’, 16e Biennale de Lyon in France and ‘Fun Feminism’ at Kunstmuseum Basel in Switzerland. She was also nominated for the IKOB Feminist Art Prize in Belgium. The year before saw a retrospective exhibition at Wroclaw Contemporary Museum in Poland and her being rewarded with the prestigious Charlotte Köhler Prize for the visual arts in The Netherlands.

In Antwerp Puck Verkade will show her most recent video installation ‘Unborn’, accompanied by a series of new collages.

‘Unborn’ addresses the sensitivity of reproductive freedom and choice in an absurd but openly vulnerable manner. The lead character of the film, embodied by Verkade dressed as a human-sized pigeon, grapples with contemporary reproductive rights issues informed by both societal expectations and biological determinism.

We follow the confused pigeon as she is in the process of building her nest. Collecting sticks and branches, she ponders prospective parenthood. Is she building a nest because she wants to, or just because that is what pigeons are supposed to do? Her doubts and confusions quickly drag her into an absurd parallel world in which she’s haunted by an evil crow and confronted with her peers’ expectations.

‘Unborn’ is especially poignant in this current climate where politicians worldwide have redoubled their efforts to control women’s bodies and futures and abortion rights are once again at the forefront of feminist activism. Verkade’s installation reminds us of the importance of bodily autonomy as a human right, while openly considering complex feelings of doubt, guilt, shame, and vulnerability in a way we rarely see in popular culture.

Playful, subversive and toying with the absurd, Puck Verkade’s video installations awaken a magical world that lures the viewer in and then confuses them, making the undertone of the work haunting and uncomfortable. Through a surrealist gaze she revises archetypal narratives that shape the social systems we have created for ourselves. In earlier video works Verkade sourced the visual elements and avatars from popular culture, internet and mainstream mythologies. Since 2019 she employs more analogue film techniques, including handmade props and costumes, stop motion animation and performance for the camera lens.

Verkade’s hybrid characters exist somewhere in-between animal and human, camouflage and drag, fact and fiction. A confused pigeon, an inner demon, a frustrated housefly, a curious ancestor; these protagonists reflect the various personas we carry inside us and how they always find a way to the surface despite our best attempts to suppress them. They have uneasy or unwanted questions to ask out loud, and Verkade’s topsy-turvy and cartoon-like worlds leave space to consider less binary answers.

The wider themes she engages with in her work conjure up the complex relations between the inner and outer worlds. The main threads weaving through both the presentation of her work and entire practice range from the questions of accountability and complicity, to reproductive rights, bodily agency and consent. All rather layered subjects that she approaches with sincere curiosity and humorist sensibility.

Puck Verkade (1987) holds an MFA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths University, London, and a BFA from the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, the Netherlands. Verkade has exhibited amongst others at Zabludowicz Collection, London; Artissima, Turin; Schimmel Projects Art Centre, Dresden; Forde, Geneva; LISTE, Basel; ARCO Lisboa, Lisbon; SUNDAY, London; Berlin Feminist Film Festival, Berlin; LOOP, Barcelona and Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. In 2017-2018 she was resident artist at Sarabande The Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation in London. Verkade’s work is held in private and public collections, including the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, the Zabludowicz Collection in London, the Servais family collection in Brussels, the EKARD Collection in Wassenaar and the AKZO Nobel Art Foundation in Amsterdam. She lives and works in Berlin.

Reviews and features

Daremag by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Kunstmarkt by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Metropolis M by Lieneke Hulshof

Metropolis M by Charlotte Fijen

Interview on Radio 1 Belgium (in Dutch)


Lost Painters by Niek Hendrix