From behind her hands, she looks out into the world: Sharbat Gula. In 1984, she was photographed by Steve McCurry after she had fled Afghanistan, aged 12. The cover of National Geographic made her image an instant global icon....
From behind her hands, she looks out into the world: Sharbat Gula. In 1984, she was photographed by Steve McCurry after she had fled Afghanistan, aged 12. The cover of National Geographic made her image an instant global icon. FENIX Museum in Rotterdam acquired her portrait at the recent Paris Photo. Earlier this year, the original magazine, now a collector’s item, was purchased at auction in the US. They are two of the many new acquisitions for the international collection of the museum in formation, which is dedicated to migration. The collection consists of contemporary art, historical and personal objects and photography. In 2022, the collection grew to 150 objects with over 40 new acquisitions.
Suitcases and Art
FENIX is a museum under construction with a rapidly growing collection in the making. In 2022, exciting acquisitions were able to be added to the collection from artists as diverse as French nineteenth-century sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827-1875) and contemporary artists such as Grayson Perry (1960), Hans op de Beeck (1969) and Remy Jungerman (1959). At the first edition of Art Basel Paris+, FENIX purchased the monumental painting In the Floods of Illusions (Layula ya Nziga) by Hilary Balu (1992) and at Paris Photo the famous probing photo series of an African-American family in segregated USA by Gordon Parks (1912-2006). Šelja Kamerić’s (1976) installation EU / OTHERS, previously shown at Manifesta, was acquired as well. Very recently a video work by Martha Atienza (1981), shown during Frieze London this autumn was added to the collection as well. Besides art, photography and historical objects, FENIX is collecting hundreds of suitcases for an architectural maze of suitcases. These are brought in by suitcase donors on a weekly basis, for instance on intake days throughout the country. They are often suitcases with special personal stories attached, about love, homesickness, hope and longing. This maze requires a total of 2,000 suitcases, of which more than 1,200 have already been brought in, two years before the opening.
FENIX director Anne Kremers: “Our collection is growing at lightning speed. With new acquisitions almost every week, the collection already demonstrates that migration is universal and timeless. FENIX connects past and present.”
FENIX will open at the end of 2024. A historical quayside warehouse from 1923 is currently being transformed into a museum to a design by Chinese architect Ma Yansong, founder of MAD Architects. Here, beside the River Maas, FENIX will soon provide space for cultural, culinary and creative encounters - at the quintessential location of departure and arrival. Where millions of people departed and just as many arrived from all over the world. Fleeing or chasing after love. Looking for happiness or better opportunities. FENIX will tell all these stories. Future visitors will enter the museum through the carefully restored warehouse via a theatrical double-helix staircase that ends high above the building in a spectacular platform that provides a panorama over the Maas and a new perspective on the city of Rotterdam.
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