This month sees the new exhibition ‘Next Level’ at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. The show seeks to illustrate the far-reaching influence of game culture in the worlds of art, film and music. Representing the home-grown talent are Amsterdam-based artistic couple Margit Lukacs and Persijn Broersen.

Working together for the past ten years, they met and fell in love whilst studying at the acclaimed Gerrit Rietveld Academy. Their 2003 ‘Crossing the Rainbow Bridge’ film, a semi-documentary musical made after teaching in China, perfectly charts their feelings for each other. It mirrors the ‘honest’ expression of grand themes like love and death that they found expressed by their Chinese students and sees the couple trying to return to this ‘lost sentiment’ within Western art.

As a couple, thinking creatively together is both easy and a challenge at the same time. PM draw inspiration from each other, mainly because they are very opposite but also because they like similar things, ‘thing like patterns, decoration, forests, airplanes, deer, castles, visconti, food, safranski, waltzing and vaulted ceilings’. Their backgrounds help mould their identities. Persijn grew up in a very close-knit, straightforward Dutch family and describes that world as ‘logical and sensible’ whereas Margit’s experience could not have been more different. From a young age, she was taught the realities of war and the suffering earlier generations of her family had had to endure and how this leaves a legacy in the fragile reality of life.

PM’s creative output is a rich mixture of photography, graphic art and film. Much of their illustrative work is produced through a combination of drawings and digital manipulation. The computer allows them to achieve complex and overwhelming patterned structures. To them, in the world we live in, everything has become ornamental. “We think this has a lot to do with the way we experience life, the hypnotizing effect of decoration and order….we’re interested in the fact that it’s a primitive instinct in the human brain to always search for symmetries and sensible structures.”

PM’s Zwart/Licht (Dark/Light) installation drew attention to the couple when it was picked up by Moooi designer, Marcel Wanders. The striking wallpaper designed as part of the installation by the couple went on to be featured as an example of Dutch design internationally. PM enjoyed the collaboration as they feel it is important to work in all kind of directions, not only in art and design. “We would be really interested in collaborating with fashion designers as well”.

Their current work on-show at the Stedelijk is called ‘The Chance Encounter’ and features a projection of a landscape rolling by. The name was taken from a quotation by Max Ernst who believed ‘that the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table, as the juxtaposition of two seemingly foreign elements in a mutually foreign setting, provokes the strongest poetic sparks.’ PM’s landscape is also an encounter of two worlds, namely the world of ‘the game’, where nothing is by chance, everything is controlled and goals are defined, and the ‘real world’ where you are controlled by fate and there is no ultimate goal. “In ‘The Chance Encounter’, we created a landscape, which if seen from the above, clearly consists of a regular structure, but seeing it from the side you perceive it as a random world. The movement is also, contrary to games, only from side to side unlike games where you move deeper from one level to another. In our landscape, only the ‘aimlessness’ of gliding is the experience and this we consider a part of ‘real life’. We feel ourselves more at the mercy of fate rather than being in control.”

Their first solo show in a museum is also coming up this year in Den Bosch. PM will be showing projects about their origin and how it affects their identity. They chose their families as the subject as they are so different and therefore good to compare. This will eventually be worked out into two video installations. On a commercial front, the couple continue to produce challenging work for different clients including the beautiful music promo for Dutch band, Coparck. Their next project is for another Dutch band, Bauer Working with animation is a medium which appeals to them both, “There’s a giant universe of possibilities within 3d design. Instead of traveling to other worlds as we were promised when we were little (flying to the moon and further when we would be our age now), we find that instead we can create these universes from scratch. So in this sense, we would definitely like to develop further in these new voyages of discovery.

If you’d like to see more of PM’s work, then please visit their website. You can also catch the ‘Next Level: Art, Games and Reality’ exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum until 18th June 2006.

‘Next Level: Art, Games and Reality’ Exhibition
Date: until 18th June 2006
Place: Stedelijk Museum
Address: Post CS- building, 2nd Floor, Oosterdokskade 5, Amsterdam
Open: Daily from 10:00 until 18:00
Entrance: 9.00 Euro

Text: Ania Markham from Post Panic
Images courtesy of Margit Lukacs and Persijn Broersen

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Stefan Marx