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Ellen Gallagher explores 'No Man's Land'

A story of rebirth

The Stedelijk Museum proudly introduces Rotterdam-based American artist, Ellen Gallagher. Titled All of No Man’s Land Is Ours’ this collection serves as an emotional exploration of history, transforming spaces associated with oppression and death into conceptual pieces that convey a profound sense of rebirth and the redistribution of life.

Echoing the haunting narratives of inhumane violence during the era of slave trade, Gallagher crafts works that immerse viewers in an undersea realm, where the bodies of fallen slaves float amidst sunken whales and underwater creatures.  With a background in Marine Biology, Gallagher draws attention to Osedax, bone-eating worms capable of sculpting new worlds from the remains of fallen whales. Her work, Watery Elastic, serves as a poignant bridge between life and death, illustrating the potential for virtuality within the nexus of trauma.

Gallagher uses strong references to the work of Cézanne, in particular his piece Scipio, on loan from Museu de Arte de São Paulo, which informs her depictions of demise and affliction. Embracing Cézanne’s use of thick black paint, she incorporates black rubber into her paintings, enhancing the compelling and thought-provoking nature of her creations.

Although we are brought into what appears to be a “watery grave”, it is an eco-system of empowerment and prosperity. And at the end of the day, words cannot capture the affective power of the paintings. So make sure to experience Gallagher’s raw and deeply heartfelt exhibition, which transforms narratives of the past.