Chrooma 2017

Chrooma is a performative, photographic work. Before visiting the exhibition Beyond Us and Them, Roos photographed spectators. The photo, where the person looks at the ceiling and thus shows his neck, is printed on the spot. A square of 5 by 5 cm is punched out. The person portrayed receives this “skin sample” when he / she visits the exhibition, with the request to sort it by color on the round table. The meeting and the conversation with the portrayed person who takes a vulnerable position, the printing of the photo, the sorting of the piece of skin, and the final color circle that arises (and which is always regrouped by other spectators during the exhibition): it is all part of the work Chrooma. Chrooma’s work questions the way in which we ourselves make a distribution in society based on skin color. How do we relate as individuals to others, in the context of contemporary debates on racism, polarization and migration?

The term Chrooma comes from the work of Homer in which there is no word for color. In Homer’s poems, chroma has the meaning “skin”, only later chroma (chroia chroos) is used for color. (source: “Aristotle”, About colors)

Chrooma on display at Fotodok, Utrecht at the exhibition Beyond Us and Them 1 September – 20 October 2017

Review De Volkskrant: ‘The work of Roos van Geffen also touches such a sensitive chord’ … It becomes even more fun when Van Geffen asks her audience to put their own skin color (who wants, can, according to the artist ‘the most vulnerable’ piece of skin, be photographed by her and I don’t tell what that is) in the right place in a kind of skin color range circle. That turns out to be more difficult than first thought and elicits many a comment: “Hmm, I’m less black and white than I thought.” Fotodok, invite the entire House of Representatives, or better: rebuild the exhibition there.

Exhibition photography: Sanne van den Elzen

Curator Lisanne van Happen: “Who do we include and who do we exclude? The urge to divide people into groups is human, but it is also a source of tension. Can this polarization be reversed with a good dose of rapprochement, curiosity and an open attitude towards each other? ‘Voorbij Wij en Zij’ brings together image makers who investigate the area between ‘we’ and ‘they’ and who look critically at inclusion and exclusion. With work of; Terje Abusdal (NO), BeAnotherLab, Alexander Chekmenev (UA), Critical Mass (NL), Heather Dewey-Hagborg (US), Sanne van den Elzen (NL), Roos van Geffen (NL), Robin Hammond (NZ), Patricia Kaersenhout (NL), Amak Mahmoodian (IR), Alex Majoli (IT), Moniker (NL) and Gilleam Trapenberg (CW).

In ‘Beyond us and Them’ work is shown in which photographers and artists explore the different aspects of individuality. How do we relate to others as individuals? Our individual identity plays a key role in whether or not it belongs to a particular group. Some groups include the place where you were born, the family you grew up in, and the genes passed down from generation to generation. Instead of thinking in “I” and “the other”, the reality is much more complex: “I” and the “other” are changeable and are therefore never strictly separated.”