Jennifer Tee - The Soul in Limbo

Publication The Soul in Limbo,
design Richard Niessen, 2015.

Jennifer Tee - Star Crossed

Jennifer Tee, Star Crossed, performance for the exhibition Nether Land, Shanghai Expo, China, 2010
© Photo by Peter Cox

Jennifer Tee - Star Crossed

Jennifer Tee, Shuudan Koudou (collective action), Ether Plane / Material Diagram series 4, plate 3, 50 x 84 cm

6th Cobra Art Prize Amstelveen goes to Jennifer Tee

The Soul in Limbo, Jennifer Tee's first museum solo exhibition in the Netherlands

Exhibition: The Soul in Limbo, November 24, 2015 until March 6, 2016
The Soul in Limbo* is the first museum retrospective of Tee's work to be held in the Netherlands. Taking the themes of 'Language', 'Choreography' and ‘Occult Geometry’, the exhibition looks back on her work's development over the last 10 years and includes new pathways extending into the future. Elements from Tee's previous installations are grouped in each section and include banners, ceramic vases, spheres and masks, photography, sculpture, knitted floor pieces and diagrams. The exhibition also features material connected with her work processes and sources of inspiration.

The title of the exhibition is taken from the statement, “I am the soul in limbo”, made by Nadja, the central character in the eponymous novel by André Breton.

Jennifer Tee
In her work, Jennifer Tee investigates the changeability and complexity of constantly overlapping cultures. Her work is very diverse in form, from almost impossible to make ceramics to hand-knitted floorpieces from curved bamboo floating in fragile balance to complex performances. Collaboration with others such as artists, graphic designers, and choreographers play an important role. The surroundings in which a work is created is important too, both in term of material choices and the way the exhibition space is installed.

Written, spoken and sung language make up a recurring theme in much of Tee's work. The language-based performances in particular are a key part of her oeuvre. Tee's interest in written language has led to research into Egyptian hieroglyphs and Chinese calligraphy - both forms in which texts and symbols show an affinity with choreography. The performances have gone on to develop more and more into remarkably devised choreographies. Three of these performances and choreographies will be carried out during the exhibition, activating some of the works on display.

Three performances of Jennifer Tee at the Cobra Museum
Written, spoken and sung language are a recurring element in much of Tee's work includes numerous performances and choreographies. Tee's interest in written language culminated in a research on Egyptian hieroglyphs characters and Chinese calligraphy - both forms of text and characters show kinship with choreography. In line with this, the performances have increasingly developed into specially designed choreography.

What Men Knew Nothing About
Sunday 17th and January 24th 14:00 and 16:00
What Men Knew Nothing About is a text-based performance performed by two actors on both sides of a banner (which is a folded state part of the exhibition The Soul in Limbo). The text is a mix of English and Lithuanian (the performance took place earlier in Vilnius). The performers speak a poetic commentary by the artist from a synchronized manner on the notion of uniting, confusion and identity."

Concrete Interior
Sunday, January 31 and Sunday, February 7th at 14:00 and 16:00
Choreography: Jennifer Tee and Miri Lee
Dancer: Miri Lee Duration: 10 min
In the past, Tee already worked on various knitted "floor pieces" with the New York-based Sahara Briscoe. For this specific work they dyed the wool with hand to realize a contrast between the object (the garment) and the movement of the dancer. Dancer Miri Lee follows the lines of the octagonal shape of the garment, and so creates a bounded psychological space. The piece was inspired by ‘What is Possible’ (1980), a poem by the American poet, essayist and feminist Adrienne Rich. It is about the desire for a carefree and clear mind. This performance was previously conducted in 2012 in New York during Tee's residence at ISCP.
The performance on February 7 is organized in cooperation with WeArePublic ( and is enriched by talk from the curator, Hilde de Bruijn.
Registration via

The Oracle Club, a reading from Marcel Proust's Swann's Way Sunday, February 14 Valentine's Day. 8 p.m. to 22:30 hrs
The Oracle Club is an intimate, meditative event organized around Tee's brightly colored hand-woven "floor pieces". They serve as the backdrop for an informal lecture where five selected visitors read aloud from Marcel Proust's Swann's Way. In Search of Lost Time (1913 to 1927) is a novel in seven volumes; Swann’s Way is the first volume.
Reservation required through

Cobra Art Prize Amstelveen
Jennifer Tee (NL 1973) is the winner of the 6th edition of the Cobra Art Prize Amstelveen. With this award The Cobra Museum of Modern Art and the Amstelveen Municipality aim to draw attention to the values of the Cobra movement - experimental, engaged and interdisciplinary - in relation to contemporary art. Headed by Saskia van Kampen, curator at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the jury remarked,
”Over many years Jennifer Tee has shown herself to be a unique multi-talent, who can throw herself into making a thought-provoking choreography with the same apparent ease as creating a huge hanging sculpture. And it is extraordinary how, no matter how multi-layered her work may be, it still remains accessible for a wide public. The jury was unanimous in its decision to award the 2015 Cobra Art Prize to the multi-disciplinary artist, Jennifer Tee.“
More information on the Cobra Art Prize here.

Exhibition: Jennifer Tee meets Cobra
Simultaneously with the exhibition in Amstelveen, there will be a show of works at the Kunstverein in Amsterdam chosen by Jennifer Tee and Maxime Kopsa (Kunstverein) from the Cobra Museum collection. Works by Pierre Alechinsky, Reinhoud, Eugène Brands and Frits Lemaire will be displayed along with a work by Tee.
27 November – 2 January 2016 More information here

Publication: The Soul in Limbo
The Soul in Limbo is a monograph compiled by Jennifer Tee in collaboration with Hilde de Bruijn. Some of the images have never before been published. Articles by Zoë Gray (Senior Curator, Wiels, Brussel), Maxine Kopsa (director, Kunstverein, Amsterdam) and Monica Szewczyk (co-curator, Documenta 14) interpret Tee's work. The Soul in Limbo was designed by Richard Niessen and published by Roma Publications.

You can buy the catalogue at the museumshop or order it via Roma Publishers

The Exhibition and publication was made possible through support by de Council of Gemeente Amstelveen, Galerie Fons Welters, the Mondriaan Fund, the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, and the Tijl Fund. With special thanks to Zwaan Printmedia.


Karel Appel - The Opera

His designs for the Dutch National Opera
20-02-16 - 15-05-16

In 1994 and 1995, at the invitation of Pierre Audi, artistic director of The National Opera, Karel Appel designed the sets and costumes for two operas, ‘Noah’ and ‘The Magic Flute'. Thus he joined the long tradition of collaboration between artists and opera. Appel's designs led to consternation and praise by press and public. The sets and backdrops are colourful and spectacular and testify to the expressive style so characteristic of him. A direct and intuitive art portraying the great human themes, which also take a central place in opera.

In 2016 it has been 10 years since Karel Appel had passed away. An occasion to collaborate with The National Opera and to shine the spotlights on the stage scenery works. The same Opera staff that worked with Appel have restored various pieces especially for this exhibition. Displaying these objects in a museum creates a totally different experience. The visitor moves like an actor over the 'stage', past the scenery and light plan that is designed again by technicians from the National Opera. From close-by you can see the human hand of Appel and his assistants.

Included are a few artworks from our own collection showing kinship with the Opera designs. Film recordings of both operas will be on show in the gallery along with Appel's original scenery sketches.



March 2015

The Danish artist duo, Bank & Rau, based in Copenhagen, have been invited by the Cobra Museum to create a contemporary presentation of the museum collection from the perspective of their own unique vision. The collection of the museum, the stories associated with it and the history of the Cobra movement, with associated archival material, are the building blocks with which Bank & Rau have set to work. They will further complement this with their own work, inspired by the Cobra collection and thereby creating a new, total installation in which they tell a story of Cobra in a completely new way.

In the artistic practice of Bank & Rau (Lone Bank & Tanja Rau), hand crafting and elements of folklore are consistent elements. By setting aside accepted tradition and everything we tend to take for granted (in a museum), Bank & Rau endeavour to create new forms for museum presentations.

The Open Collection Programme of the Cobra Museum is an investigation in practice, in which contemporary creators are invited to open up the Cobra Museum collection and contribute new impulses and perspectives. The Open Collection Programme has been made possible by the Mondriaan fund. The presentation by Bank & Rau is also supported by the Danish Arts Council, SVFK (Danish Art Workshop) and the SKF (Danish Art Foundation).



Works from the collection of the Cobra Museum of Modern Art

The CoBrA artists, many of whom had left-wing political leanings following the isolation and divisions inflicted by the war, wanted to create a new form of art that transcended national borders and could assume a central place in society. Cobra artists wanted to produce art that could be understood by everyone, that would speak directly to the individual. To achieve this, they sought to get as close as possible to the underlying core of what it meant to be human. They sought ‘authenticity’, and found something closer to that authenticity in the artistic expressions of children, folk culture and in non-Western societies. In practice, this meant experimenting with ‘a new, spontaneous painterly expression’. In this way, Cobra artists investigated the relationships between drawing, writing and painting. They strove to liberate colour from form. Some of the artists associated with Cobra, including Karel Appel and Asger Jorn, had specific periods when abstraction played a larger role in their work, but there were also artists associated with Cobra who had always leaned more strongly towards abstraction, such as Eugène Brands, Anton Rooskens, Theo Wolvecamp and the Danish artist, Erik Ortvad. It is this field of tension between figuration and abstraction that is central in this presentation with works from the collection of the Cobra Museum of Modern Art