Camden Art Centre will present a solo exhibition by Tenant of Culture, the anonym of Dutch artist Hendrickje Schimmel (b. 1990, Arnhem, Netherlands) this July 2022. The artist, whose practice is characterised by a repurposing of discarded materials to birth new forms in a material exploration of consumer culture and wastefulness, will realise an ambitious new site-specific installation, her largest work to date.
Tenant of Culture is the third recipient of the Camden Art Centre Emerging Artist Prize at Frieze. The artist’s research for her new exhibition began in Camden Art Centre’s archives, where she uncovered reference to the mass labour of women in the laundry industry in 19th century Britain – the extent of which, the artist discovered, is largely undocumented.
The exhibition draws on and extends the artist’s long-standing exploration of consumer culture and the vast and problematic waste accumulated via the fashion industry. Repurposing discarded garments and accessories into new sculptural forms, the resulting works nod to former relics, simultaneously desirable and monstrous, which are a reminder of the unstable cycle of trends and fashion, and the exploitative and often invisible economies of supply and demand.
In Gallery 3, huge sculptural forms, comprised of a bespoke hanging system and reminiscent of high-end fashion display mechanisms, will suspend a mass of synthetically coloured textile works consisting of used and reassembled garments. Deconstructed, bleached, re-dyed, re-assembled, wrung-out, pressed, hung and stretched, the sculptures mirror methodologies employed in the laundry and textile dye industries. The garments which make up the sculptures are made from repurposed denim, waterproofs and performance-wear – materials that take a huge amount of water and chemicals to produce and finish – and have been treated with acid or enzymes to produce synthetic and toxically bright colours. The artist intentionally steers away from materials that are commonly associated with sustainability and avoids romanticised depictions of ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ tones and fabrics. Instead, the recycled garments and accessories are made from plastics and synthetic fibres, dyed in noxious, bright and artificial colours. Large and shapeless in scale and form, at odds with the polished allure of high-end and fast fashion, the works seek to make visible the historical and contemporary waste water problem created by industrial-scale laundries and textile production methodologies that are intrinsic to the fashion industry.
In researching this process Tenant of Culture discusses a distinct lack of information on the industrial history of fashion and thus highlights the lack of value we place on women’s labour: the industry today is still made up of mostly female workers and this centuries-old process still informs modern-day mass production. If capitalism produces a plethora of garments that have some amount of exchange value for a fixed moment in time, and if these items, largely produced by women, soon become waste, where does value sit, who gets to decide, and at what cost?
Tenant of Culture 8th July – 8th September Camden Art Centre
About the artist
Tenant of Culture is the artistic practice of Hendrickje Schimmel (b. 1990, Arnhem, Netherlands), who lives and works in London, UK. She received her MA in Mixed Media from the Royal College of Art, London, UK in 2016, and completed a BA in Womenswear at Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Zwolle, Netherlands in 2012. Forthcoming solo exhibitions include: Camden Arts Centre, London, UK (2022) and Soft Opening, London, UK (2022). Recent solo exhibitions include Et Al., Kunstverein Dresden, Dresden, Germany (2021); Autumn Cloth, Sophie Tappeiner, Vienna, Austria (2021); Georgics (how to style a chore coat), Fons Welters, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2020); I forgot to tell you I’ve changed, Het Fries Museum, Leeuwarden (2020); Eclogues (an apology for actors), Nicoletti Contemporary, London (2019); Works and Days, Outpost Gallery, Norwich (2018); Deadstock, Sarabande Foundation, London (2018); Climate | Change, Clearview, London (2017) and The Latest Thing, CODE ROOD Koningsweg, Arnhem (2016). Selected group exhibitions include: Fittings with Kinke Kooi, Exile Gallery, Vienna (2020); Image Power at Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem (2020); Transformers at Future Gallery, Berlin, Germany (2020); Gubbinal at Project Native Informant, London (2019); NEW RUINS at Soft Opening, London (2019); Artquest Peer Forum at Camden Arts Centre, London (2018); Out of Fashion at Centraal Museum, Utrecht (2017); Bloomberg New Contemporaries at Institute of Contemporary Art, London (2016). The work of Tenant of Culture is in the collections of the Fries Museum, Leeuwarden and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands. In 2020 Soft Opening published the artist’s first monograph in collaboration with Charles Asprey which was one of the winners of the Swiss Most Beautiful Books Award.