Four Elements, 2020

ArtRotterdam 2020 outdoor exhibition programme Prospects & Concepts 2020

Location: Van Nelle Fabriek, Van Nelleweg 1, Rotterdam 6th - 9th February 2020


Leandros Ntolas' site-specific installation Four Elements focuses on the history of the Van Nelle factory. In the form of an archaeological excavation of 10 x 6 meters opposite the entrance of the building, it shifts the focus from the architecture–the building is a Unesco monument–to the industrial and colonial history of the factory, and the materiality of this history; a history which is also connected to Rotterdam and the Netherlands.

The title is a reference to the tobacco, coffee and tea that were processed in the Van Nelle factory and to the water that played an important role in the transportation of these colonial goods. For the composition, Ntolas relied on the working method of archaeological excavations. In it he depicts, through the different layers of the earth, the different production processes that can be found in the structure of the building (8 floors for tobacco, 5 for coffee and 3 for tea). Each layer shows traces from the former production process, such as tobacco leaves, raw and ground coffee beans, tea leaves, etc.

In Ntolas’ words: “There is something in the process of excavating an archaeological site that deeply intrigues me; this act of bringing into light [...] things and histories that you don’t necessarily expect to find. What interests me the most is the way we perceive and approach these findings, these histories; the way we try to make sense of them and put them into context. This work embodies my own paradoxical and poetic approach to archaeological practice, by making an archaeological excavation at a site where the building is still standing, and using–as archaeological findings– natural materials that could never have been found in the ground in this form.”

[Four Elements is created with the financial support of the Mondriaan Fund, Outset NL, Stroom Den Haag, Van Nelle Fabriek and Van Nelle Fabriek Events. Special thanks to Man Met Bril Koffie, L. Elink Schuurman (Thee) B.V. ]


Prospects & Concepts 2020

In February 2020 the Mondriaan Fund organizes the eight edition of the annual exhibition Prospects & Concepts during the international art fair Art Rotterdam at the Van Nelle Fabriek. The exhibition presents work by 66 visual artists who received a Stipendium for Emerging Artists in order to start their careers. For this edition, the Mondriaan Fund invited Johan Gustavsson to curate the exhibition. Gustavsson is co-director of project space 1646 in The Hague and initiator and board member of both The Naked and The Hague Contemporary. In addition, he teaches at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, at the departments of Photography and Interactive/Media/Design.