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The suspended moment. Works from the H&F Collection, Netherlands

The suspended moment. Works from the H&F Collection, Netherlands


20 January 2006 - 7 May 2006
Exhibition hall on the first floor
Tuesday to Saturday, from 11.00 to 21.00. Sundays, from 11.00 to 15.00
CRAC Alsace, Francia
Hilde Teerlinck

The H&F Collection

The H&F collection was created in 2000 by the Dutch writer Han Nefkens (Rotterdam, 1954). Despite its recent creation, the collection is internationally renowned and includes works by important contemporary artists. Nefkens is assessed by Sjarel Ex, director of Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, in the acquisition of the works. Nefkens has trusted Ex's judgment from the very beginning, although he claims that he usually takes decisions on his own and almost immediately. Virtually all the artworks of the collection are to be found in different museums that have signed collaboration agreements: Centraal Museum in Utrecht, Museum of Contemporary Art in Reykjavik, Museum de Pont in Tilburg, Huis Marseille in Amsterdam, and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. Han Nefkens lives in London, with temporary stayings in Barcelona. Apart from being a collector, he is currently developing a remarkable work as patron and promoter of artistic projects with a clearly social purpose, especially those related to the fight against AIDS.

Venues (2005-2008)

  • CRAC ALSACE, Altkirch, France

  • MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo, Spain

  • TADU Contemporary Arts Center, Bangkok, Thailand

  • KUNSTENCENTRUM Z 33, Hasselt, Belgium

  • CENTRAAL MUSEUM, Utrecht, Netherlands


THE SUSPENDED MOMENT is a selection of artworks from the H&F Collection presented by Hilde Teerlinck, curator of the exhibition and director of CRAC Alsace (Centre Regional d'Art Contemporain), France, in collaboration with Han Nefkens, owner of the collection. After its presentation in the CRAC Alsace in Altkirch in 2005, the exhibition will travel to MARCO Vigo (its only Spanish venue) and will be taken over the following years to Thailand, Belgium and the Netherlands. This collective exhibition gathers paintings, photographs, videos, installations and sculptures by 20 internationally renowned artists.

On this occasion, the main subject can be easily guessed in the title of the exhibition: The Suspended Moment tells us about tension, about suspense -as in cinema-, but confronts this emotion, this thrill, with the instantaneousness and the transience of the moment, flirting with a similar contradiction as in the title of Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick's last film.

"What would happen if we could stop the clock for a moment?" According to the curator, this exhibition offers a unique opportunity to make this happen. All the artists selected seem to have dealt with similar issues. Whether they are painters, photographers or sculptors doesn't really matter. Somewhere in their work we find the preoccupations and views that they share, and they take everyday life as a starting point for a deeper analysis.

It is no coincidence that the work of all these artists is often rooted in a raw, sometimes bitter reality. Victor Boullet shows us the interiors of operating theatres; gruesome moments, with animals in a sleeping/waking condition, between sleep and death. Félix González-Torres' delicate puzzles seem innocent toys at first sight, but they speak of love, loss and the fragility of life. A similar poetic approach can be found in Otto Berchem's installation Deadheading. His dead flowers transform into a real 'still life', whose beauty and tragic end make us think about our ephemeral existence.

Naoya Hatakeyama's series entitled Blast confronts us with violent explosions in a Japanese mine. We see how present-day industry is capable of destroying in one second century-old mountains. With the dust they will construct highways or skyscrapers. We can read these pieces as a meditation on our human condition: we seem to be damned to destroy our past to build a new future. Fabien Rigobert's video shows a car accident. By artificially slowing the action, Rigobert explores subtle changes in the different characters' behaviour, analysing complex emotions like fear, compassion, sadness or horror. Sam Taylor-Wood works in a comparable way. In her video Strings, the dancer Ivan Putrov is literally suspended in the air performing an acrobatic choreography above the heads of a string quartet. The apparent precariousness of the situation provokes a feeling of fascination in the viewer, coupled with the troubling and distressing sensation induced by the fragility and vulnerability of the body.

Gerald Van Der Kaap, author of the back and front cover of the catalogue, is a Dutch multi-media artist. He finds artistic inspiration is his vast archive of photographs, often auto-biographical. As viewers, we are confronted with a kind of virtual "after-image", which nevertheless is able to preserve the original tension.

Some works demand the visitors' immediate participation to "come to life", as Erwin Wurm's installation Hold your breath and think of Spinoza, from the series One-minute sculptures. On this occasion, the visitors of the exhibition are invited to sit down on a pedestal and to meditate by following the instructions of the artist. Diana Thater uses a similar strategy. Her video-installation White is the colour is also interactive and forces the viewer to become an integral part of it by moving in front of the white neon light.

Roni Horn shows a similar obsession as Thater's with the smallest, imperceptible shifts in reality with the precision we could expect from a scientist, but she actually puts the art of looking, the importance of observation and perception on the agenda. Karin Sander's proposals are 1:10 reduced reproductions of human beings or objects. Using a sophisticated 3D scan she can freeze time and create a perfect copy of her models.

Angela Bulloch's tribute to the French conceptual artist Cadère is also based on technology. The changing colours of her light boxes, made either of wood or plastic and capable of generating 16 million colours, are also a perfect reference to the subtle paintings of Prudencio Irazábal (the only Spanish artist in the show) or Bernard Frize. These two artists seem to share a similar interest for the influence of colours on the human mind. Their canvasses are based on minimal, furtive interventions and look like fragile objects that could disappear in an instant.

"A drop of paint on the floor, just short of dry." That is how Thomas Rentmeister likes to define his polyester sculptures. And indeed, they seem to have landed temporarily and not adhere to the floor for long. Smooth and polished, they ask to be touched but seem susceptible to dissolve at any moment. We find a similar sensibility in the photographs of Jörg Sasse. All his pictures are a strange mixture of speed and peace. The landscapes of Hrafnkell Sigurdsson are similar: everything looks quiet and peaceful, until something happens and reveals our vulnerability.

Paul Kooiker's images look like blurred snapshots taken by an amateur photographer. However, they are the result of a precise strategy in order to capture the models in one furtive moment. Jeff Wall's Little Children was originally intended for a Children's Pavilion conceived in co-operation with Dan Graham. At first it looks like portraits taken from an advertisement, but it's only after a closer look that we detect that there are military helicopters up in the nice blue sky. The shape of these light boxes takes us to Dan Graham's work, a piece that invites to meditation by means of three open doors, invisible and transparent during the day but transforming miraculously under the light of the moon at night.

Fleeting snapshots, variations on a same movement, indefinite images, reflections upon ordinary life or the fragility of existence... According to the curator, The Suspended Moment is an exhibition that has to be experienced -as the title suggests.

"It has to be experienced subjectively; it appeals to everyone's personal sensitivity. It consists of fragments and moments that each one of these 20 artists has selected personally, for very particular reasons. I advise you to take your time and pause, if only for 'one minute' to personally discover each individual position. Because... you can't remember what you choose to forget."


    Angela Bulloch
    Bernard Frize
    Dan Graham
    Diana Thater
    Erwin Wurm
    Fabien Rigobert
    Félix Gonzalez-Torres
    Gerald van der Kaap
    Hrafnkell Sigurdsson
    Jeff Wall
    Jörg Sasse
    Karin Sander
    Naoya Hatakeyama
    Otto Berchem
    Paul Kooiker
    Prudencio Irazábal
    Roni Horn
    Sam Taylor-Wood
    Thomas Rentmeister
    Victor Boullet

Curatorial text

Selection of texts from the catalogue

"The publication Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland is one of the books that have given me inspiration for this intuitive and very personal choice of works from the H&F collection. It may suffice to list the titles of a few of the chapters: If it sleeps it's alive; Thinking about the future means you want something; Earthly sadness; Even more real than you; The future and the afterlife are different things altogether; One day you will speak with yourself; Destiny is corny; The future is more extreme than you think; Dreaming even though you're wide awake.

It immediately reminds me of Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick's last film, as the title The Suspended Moment flirts with a similar contradiction. It tells us about tension, about suspense -as in cinema-but confronts this emotion, this thrill, with the instantaneousness and the transience of a moment.

I belong to a generation whose everyday life is increasingly dominated by an ever more hectic pace. Morning to evening our agendas force us into a straitjacket. Routine is everywhere. Breaks and moments of relaxation are ever fewer and further between. We are constantly bombarded by an overdose of images, information and impressions, claiming our complete attention. It is hard to escape from this routine and to find a moment to relax and to slow down. Hence I asked myself this question: 'What would happen if we could stop the clock for a moment?' In my opinion, this selection from the H&F collection offers a unique opportunity to make this happen."

Hilde Teerlinck
Curator of the exhibition

Fragment of the text A split second


"Characteristic of the work Han Nefkens purchases is its photographic aspect, even if the artist was not working with photography as a medium: ‘This photo could be a painting, and the painting could be a photo. I'm intrigued when the medium doesn't dictate the content. I like it when at first glance you're not sure if it's a photo or a painting'. Nefkens does not buy photographs as such. He buys art.


Han Nefkens recognizes the need for dogma. He also recognizes it for himself. Dogma is the quality of making art that can be analyzed by means of judgment based on objective criteria. Such analysis might free contemporary art from the stigma that has been attached to it for so long, the 'Oh, I could do that' response. Why no one except the artist actually does it is a puzzle, however, for which no one has come up with a solution. And the very unfathomable quality of the image -the enigma of art- is the great fascination for Nefkens, the reason for putting his collection together. His purpose is not to unravel the secret of art but to identify it as such, in its enigmatic quality. As he states, ‘Art has the same function as air, water and food: it's essential for our lives, not as a luxury or pastime, but as a basic and indispensable condition of our existence.'

Nefkens' own life and his own development are decisive factors in the choice he makes as a collector and in the kind of collector he wants to be. He does not see his art purchases as a financial investment, since by housing his collection directly in museums and leaving it to those museums after his death he takes economic distance from them. The important thing for him is the meaning of the work of art in a broader context: life as such and the role that art plays in life. His fascination with works of art in which the perfect moment takes shape and assumes an enduring form that can take on other meanings just by being looked at again and again is partly the result of personal circumstances. 'The personal is political' is an almost incontestable statement from the women's movement of the seventies and eighties, and in the case of Han Nefkens ‘the personal is art' is equally incontestable. He is convinced that it is becoming more and more important to demonstrate the usefulness of art because of its objective uselessness and lack of functionality.


‘I'd like to be a fly in the wall in the museum and see the people looking, listen to them talking. How does the art I've collected affect people?' Nefkens is convinced that art can obliterate fundamental human loneliness, or at least lighten it. ‘If a work of art touches you, and you see that it does something to someone else, your loneliness dissolves.' Yet he does not see art as the proverbial solace that it can offer. Art does much more than that. Art provides insight, enabling you to recognize something in life that you weren't aware of before.'

(...) the personal satisfaction of knowing that art and the fight against AIDS go well together gave his activities as a collector extra meaning and an added dimension. Now he's making plans to be more active in the art world, not only as a collector but as a patron as well, thereby stimulating art in another way and filling an important social role."

Alex De Vries

Fragment of the text Vulnerability as strength. Moments that don't slip away



Hilde Teerlinck

Hilde Teerlinck is a founder member of the ArtAids Foundation. Director of FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, Dunkirk, she previously was Director of the Centre Rhénan d’Art Contemporain (CRAC Alsace), Altkirch and artistic Director and coordinator of the Mies van der Rohe Pavillion in Barcelona. Between 1999 and 2002 she combined her work as a teacher at École Superieur d'Art de Perpignan, working as art critic and collaborating in various publications — Parkett, Kunstforum, Kunst nu, Artefactum, Transversal, Quaderns, and Ars Mediterranea — together with her curatorial work at l'Espace d’Art Contemporain - Halle au Poisson in Perpignan. Together with Han Nefkens, she created the project Access for All [Acceso para todos] in 2004.