Trade Markings - Frontier Imaginaries Ed. No.5

Slechtvalk, illustratie (uitsnede) uit boek Traité de fauconnerie, 1844, collectie Valkerij en Sigarenmakerij Museum Valkenswaard. Foto Barbara Medo
Institute For Figuring, The Crochet Coral Reef, 2011. © Institute For Figuring. The Toxic Reef @ Sant Ocean Hall, in the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History Washington D.C. 2011
Zaaloverzicht Handelsmerken, 2018. Foto Peter Cox
Zaaloverzicht Handelsmerken, 2018. Foto Peter Cox
Zaaloverzicht Handelsmerken, 2018. Foto Peter Cox
Zaaloverzicht Handelsmerken, 2018. Foto Peter Cox
Zaaloverzicht Handelsmerken, 2018. Foto Peter Cox
Zaaloverzicht Handelsmerken, 2018. Foto Peter Cox
Zaaloverzicht Handelsmerken, 2018. Foto Peter Cox
Zaaloverzicht Handelsmerken, 2018. Foto Peter Cox
Zaaloverzicht Handelsmerken, 2018. Foto Peter Cox
Engraved shell, c. 1880s, Collection G. Goven. Installation view Van Abbemuseum 2018. Photo Marcel de Buck
Zaaloverzicht Handelsmerken, 2018. Foto Peter Cox
Tom Nicholson, I was born in Indonesia, installation view Van Abbemuseum 2018, photo Marcel de Buck
Karrabing Film Collective, Mermaids: Mirror Worlds (production still), 2017.
Patricia Kaersenhout, Proud Rebels (Gloria Wekker), 2015. Collectie Van Abbemuseum, foto Peter Cox

Trade Markings Frontier Imaginaries Ed. No.5

07/04/2018 - 01/07/2018
Guest Curator: Vivian Ziherl

In April 2018 the Van Abbemuseum will present Trade Markings, the first major presentation in Europe of art and research foundation Frontier Imaginaries. The exhibition is inspired by the world-wide reach of Eindhoven and North Brabant’s trade relations over 600 years. Visitors will discover unexpected relations between histories and objects from Afghanistan, Australia, Congo, France, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Netherlands, New Caledonia and Singapore. Three icons of North Brabant commerce—the falcon, the cigar and the computer chip – will appear and disappear over different times and territories. The exhibition brings the story of trade back home to Eindhoven, focusing on its local consequences.


The title Trade Markings was proposed by research advisor Denise Ferreira da Silva in response to the business histories of North Brabant—a province to the south-east of Holland. From this stand-point ‘globality’ may be charted out as a series of relays in time and geography through three principle commodities; the falcon, the cigar, and the computer chip or “wafter”.

Throughout feudal Europe the trained hunting falcon was a highly prized item. Though originating in the Middle East, the centre of the European falconry trade was in Valkenswaard, south-east of Eindhoven.
The Van Abbemuseum itself was established by the cigar manufacturer Henri Van Abbe, whose tobacco originated on the plantations of the Dutch East Indies and who was the second largest employer in the city at his height.
Today, Eindhoven is part of Brainport, an economic hotspot of the high-tech and computer chip industry. Its supply chains reach to the mines of rare earth metals. Its labour force are globally mobile engineers who produce patents and material product.

The falconry trade was connected to feudal power; the cigar factory to the nation state; while the systems that correspond to the computer chip are only just emerging. Trade Markings asks how art and aesthetics can help to grasp such transformations and places the immediate environment in relation to the world. It invites visitors to take another look at local histories through their international impact on the human and ‘natural’ worlds


Within the exhibition viewers will circulate anti-clockwise through a time-line that plots over six-hundred years of trade and social relations through an extended edition of Professor Elizabeth A. Povinelli’s Symphony of Liberalisms (2015 – ongoing). This work notes dates of local and global significance onto a musical manuscript—inviting audiences to imagine history not as an unfolding sequence of events but as a mutating and unfolding sonic score. At the Van Abbemuseum the ‘Symphony’ will be installed as a tide-line throughout the old museum walls, in a graphic style devised by designer Julie Peeters.

Step by step, however, the march of clock-time is interrupted and ruptured throughout the exhibition with unexpected points of allegiance and geographic parallels. Contemporary property disputes interrupt a 16th Century domestic setting, Burmese civil strife unfolds alongside industrialising European labour practices, and Singaporean bureaucratic codes advance, undercut by the staccato aesthetics of 1980s street art and Hip Hop in Eindhoven and Helmond.

With repetition and interference patterns, the exhibition’s unfolding timeline and tideline stutters against the modern European organisation of space and time—summarised by Denise Ferreira da Silva as the partition of ‘this here’ from ‘that there’, and of ‘here now’ from ‘there then’. 


Richard Bell (with As Long As It Takes), Marcel van den Berg, Blade, Alice Creischer, Bonita Ely, Ho Rui An, Gordon Hookey, Patricia Kaersenhout, Karrabing Film Collective, Tshibumba Kanda Matulu, Tom Nicholson, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Rachel O’Reilly (with PALACE, Valle Medina & Benjamin Reynolds), Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Ryan Presley, Rammellzee, Farida Sedoc, The Otolith Group, Erwin Thomasse, Dondi White and Sawangwongse Yawnghwe; as well as loans from the Falconry and Cigar-makers Museum Valkenswaard, Henk en Leonie Pijnenburg, G. Goven, Museum Helmond, Stichting Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, Milani Gallery and the Crochet Coral Reef, a project by Margaret and Christine Wertheim and the Institute for Figuring.


Vivian Ziherl in collaboration with Charles Esche and Annie Fletcher.

Frontier Imaginaries

Frontier Imaginaries arrives to the Van Abbemuseum following major editions in Australia, Palestine and New York City since 2016, with partner organisations including the Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane), QUT Art Museum, the Australian Cinémathèque, Al Ma’mal Foundation, the 3rd Qalandiya International, e-flux and Columbia University; and coverage in The Guardian, Harper’s Bazaar, the Huffington Post, the Brooklyn Rail, and the Middle East Monitor among others.


For the Van Abbemuseum, Frontier Imaginaries has invited Karrabing Film Collective—a group of indigenous artists from Australia’s Top End—to develop a new multi-screen work inspired by their research visit to the Valkerij en Sigarenmakerij (Falconry and Cigar-makers) Museum in Valkenswaard. This will be the collective’s first new work following their screening survey at the TATE Modern in London, and their presentation at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. This new work is commissioned together with the Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane), and PUBLICS Helsinki.

In an historic collaboration, the Van Abbemuseum and the Valkerij en Sigarenmakerij Museum will also stage their own exchange on the occasion of Trade Markings, with one entire room of the Falconry and Cigar-makers Museum's captivating dioramas on loan to the Van Abbemuseum—among other materials—and with a special installation of the Karrabing Film Collective’s new work on view in Valkenswaard.

The exhibition will also present together for the first time the extraordinary 10-meter long canvas Murriland! (2015- ongoing) by aboriginal artist Gordon Hookey alongside the cycle of 102 paintings that inspired it—History of Zaire (1973-74) by Tshibumba Kanda Matulu. The enormous and ongoing painting of Murriland! was commissioned by Frontier Imaginaries together with documenta 14, and was an audience favourite in Kassel over summer 2017. Metropolis M published an article on the work of Gordon Hookey at the Van Abbemuseum.

Dutch artist Farida Sedoc will develop her Freetown Lounge design, fashion and art environment for Trade Markings. This project draws upon Sedoc’s formation in Hip Hop culture, as well as her personal connection to Suriname. In particular, she considers the dealings of the 1667 Treaty of Breda, in which both New York (then New Amsterdam), and Suriname were up for exchange. These relays are the basis of an interdisciplinary project that inhabits and ‘re-designs’ exhibition spaces, flipping on its head the ‘neutrality’ of the ‘white-cube’.

Dutch artist Marcel van den Berg will present his series of collage canvasses #andwealmostlost (2013-2016), Wendelien van Oldenborgh’s lenticular images Footnotes to Squat / Anti-Squat (2017) will be exhibited following their presentation in Jerusalem Show VIII with Al Ma’mal Foundation and Frontier Imaginaries as well as at the Dutch Pavilion of the Venice Biennale 2017. In Trade Markings, the Van Abbemuseum will unveil its recent acquisition of works by Dutch artist Patricia Kaersenhout.

Trade Markings will also feature a new moving-image commission Drawing Rights by artist and researcher Rachel O’Reilly, in collaboration with PALACE (Valle Medina and Ben Reynolds), tracing colonial land and ocean law against the backdrop of the present-day gas fracking industry in Australia.

A further new work commission will be undertaken by renowned artists and filmmakers the Otolith Group who will develop a wallpaper responding to the North Brabant land-mark of the ASML tower—a nexus of the planet-wide supply-chain of computer-chips, chief economic proponent of ‘Moore’s Law’ and basis of a highly educated and highly internationally sourced new workforce in the Netherlands. 

The exhibition will feature numerous other loaned works and heritage items, such as a video and textile work by artist Alice Creischer that will feature for the first time its source of inspiration - an 18th Century engraved shell, produced by a Communard in exile on Kanaky / New Caledonia which in 2018 will undertake an independence referendum.


Another part of the exhibition is an art project by Margaret and Christine Wertheim and their Institute For Figuring (in Los Angeles) that will connect the Brabant river Dommel with the Great Barrier Reef in Australia; a crocheted and knitted coral reef that spreads from the central hall of the exhibition to other places in Eindhoven and Brabant. Together, the local community will create a high-profile structure that symbolizes how we are all connected with and to each other. The 'Crochet Coral Reef’ is a worldwide aesthetic and research project created by the Wertheim sisters as a response to the urgency of coral reef destruction, that links many different groups together by thinking together about the impact of changing nature on our world.

Anyone can crochet or knit a piece of coral reef and add it to the exhibition! More information about the crochet patterns can be found here. You can add your own crocheted items yourself to the exhibition, or send them to the museum: Jip Bierkens o.v.v. Crochet Coral Reef, PO Box 235, 5600 AE Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

Public programme

The exhibition public programme will feature public programs, including performative lectures by artists, community-focused projects and events in collaboration with the Valkerij and Sigarenmakerij Museum, Valkenswaard.

Trade Markings consists of :


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