“Freedom of Movement” is the latest edition of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam’s Municipal Art Acquisitions, a biannual exhibition that features recent work from artists living in the Netherlands. The Municipal Art Acquisitions always focuses on a different discipline, and this year’s version brings together artists who work within the field of time-based media, which includes film and video work, internet art, performance, choreography, sound art, and workshops.
“Freedom of movement” is a phrase that describes the right of a person to travel within a country, or to go abroad, whether as a refugee, immigrant, or vacationer. It is commonly used in a legal context to describe human and mobility rights. While the phrase often refers to physical movement, it can also be considered metaphorically in terms of social mobility. The privilege of being able to move freely in society is influenced by factors such as race, gender identity, ability, and sexuality. While privilege is often discussed in terms of lack, it is equally—if not especially—important to consider how privilege shapes power structures.
The twenty artists participating in the exhibition Freedom of Movement: Municipal Art Acquisitions 2018 take varying approaches to this theme. While several focus on how the act of crossing a border has changed due to advancements in technology, others look at the daily lives of immigrants and how the body itself can limit mobility. Other works consider the legacies of migration, genocide, and statelessness, and the cultural biases embedded in disciplines such as mathematics. Artists also examine the creation and expression of cultural identity through objects, folk songs, and language. All of the participants in this exhibition ask viewers to reconsider their assumptions about civic engagement and responsibility, and to think about how we understand our neighbors, our environment, our world, and ourselves.
Artists in the Netherlands were invited to submit work to Freedom of Movement via an open call. Out of 399 submissions, the jury—which consisted of choreographer Ligia Lewis, curator and Shadow Channel director Juha van ’t Zelfde, artist Harm van den Dorpel and curator Susan Gibb, led by Karen Archey, curator of this show and of time-based media at the Stedelijk—selected twenty artists to be featured.