wendelien van oldenborgh, unset on-set

unset on-set is the first solo presentation in Japan of the Dutch artist Wendelien van Oldenborgh. In an artistic practice now spanning more than twenty years, van Oldenborgh has been exploring cinema as both form and a method of production that enables collective dialogue. People of various backgrounds participate in her filmmaking as cast and crew members, never with prewritten scripts, often (re)visiting and conversing on artistic and cultural practices, or sociopolitical events of the past or present. In this way, the works capture myriad subjectivities, perspectives, and relations, surfacing various issues that resonate in the present.

The exhibition presents five existing works and a new work. Among the earlier works are Maurits Script (2006), in which archival documents of Johan Maurits, the governor of seventeenth-century Dutch Brazil, are recited and discussed among individuals with various backgrounds living in Dutch society, and No False Echoes (2008), which captures various forms of dialogue regarding the cultural and political implications of early radio under Dutch colonial policy, intertwined with a voice reading aloud “If I Were a Dutchman,” written by the Indonesian nationalist Soewardi Soerjaningrat. Maurits Script was filmed at the Mauritshuis Museum, Maurits’s former residence in the Hague, and No False Echoes was filmed at the former radio station that delivered programs to the Dutch East Indies. As such, the film locations offer specific historical contexts to the dialogue and the imagery, mediating—yet not encapsulating—the articulation.

  • Maurits Script, 2006, Still from two-channel video installation / 26min. and 38min.

  • No False Echoes, 2008, Still from three-channel video installation / 30min.

Van Oldenborgh’s filmmaking also often integrates music, film, poetry, and their histories. Two Stones (2019) features the German architect Lotte Stam-Beese and the Afro-Caribbean political activist Hermina Huiswoud, both of whom absorbed socialist ideology in the Soviet Union in the early 1930s and later lived in the Netherlands to pursue their political ideals and struggles. Filmed in two locations―Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and Kharkiv, Ukrainewith a group of architects, artists, and residents of housing projects planned by Stam-Beese, the work unravels the two women’s ideals and various dissonances through the dialogue.

  • Two Stones, 2019, Still from film installation with seating object / 28min. each

  • Two Stones, 2019, Still from film installation with seating object / 28min. each

  • Hier., 2021, Still from the film work on videowall with four monitors / 27min.

  • obsada, 2021, production still Photo by Jakub Danilewicz / 34min.

Many of van Oldenborgh’s works address women’s issues in various ways, as for instance in the recent obsada (2021), whose title means “cast” in Polish. Consisting of footage taken by a group of women involved in the Polish film industry, it captures their open conversations on how patriarchal power, which the earlier Polish avant-garde movement failed to recognize and still persists today, deeply influences their subjectivities and aspirations in the cultural field. In Hier. (2021) (Dutch for “here”), members of a young all-female band and two female writers living in the Netherlands weave out a delicate interplay of their emotional realities, memories, and political reflections on colonial history, race, gender, and sexuality inside the under-renovation Museum Arnhem, a former gentlemen’s club for Indo-Dutch men.

The new work in the show was filmed in Tokyo and Yokohama and casts light on two female Japanese writers, Fumiko Hayashi and Yuriko Miyamoto, both active from the early twentieth century until the immediate postwar period. The power and contradictions in both these women’s words reverberate in dialogues and images of an intergenerational cast moving through various spaces of knowledge, memory, and culture, reflecting today’s struggles around gender, politics, and love.

Van Oldenborgh will create a site-specific setting for viewing the film works as well as for communication, so as to facilitate intersections among the works, the audience’s bodies, their gazes, and their voices—intersections that complicate and critique normalized frames for understanding identity, discourse, and power.

《of girls》2022, production still / 40min.

Wendelien van Oldenborgh | Profile

Born 1962 in Rotterdam, currently lives and works in Berlin. Van Oldenborgh develops works, whereby the cinematic format is used as a methodology for production and as the basic language for various forms of presentation, collaborating with participants in different scenarios, to co-produce the script. Her recent solo exhibitions include work, work, work (work) at Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź (Poland, 2021), tono lengua boca at Fabra i Coats (Barcelona 2020) and CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (Madrid, 2019-2021), and Cinema Olanda at the 57th Venice Biennale Dutch Pavilion (Venice, 2017). She has also exhibited in numerous international group shows, including Sonsbeek 20->24 (Arnhem, 2021), Chicago Architecture Biennial (Chicago, 2019), bauhaus imaginista at the House of World Cultures (Berlin, 2019), Singapore Biennial (Singapore, 2019), Aichi Triennial (Aichi, 2016), and Kyiv Biennial (Ukraine, 2015).


Exhibition Period

Saturday, 12 November 2022 -Sunday, 19 February 2023


Mondays (except 2 Jan., 9 Jan.), 28 Dec.-1 Jan., 10 Jan.

Open Hours

10:00-18:00(Tickets available until 30 minutes before closing.)


Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo Exhibition Gallery 3F


Adults – 1,300 yen / University & College Students, Over 65 – 900 yen / High School & Junior High School Students – 500 yen / Elementary School Students & Younger – Free

* Ticket includes admission to the MOT Collection exhibition.
* Children younger than elementary school age need to be accompanied by a guardian.
* Persons with a Physical Disability Certificate, Intellectual Disability Certificate, Intellectual Disability Welfare Certificate, or Atomic Bomb Survivor Welfare Certificate as well as up to two attendants are admitted free of charge.
*Reserved Priorty Tickets are available. Please click here for purchasing.

Organized by

Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo operated by Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture

Grant support

Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mondriaan Fund


Exhibition Catalogue

【unset on-set】
Publisher: torch press
Art direction: Akiko Wakabayashi
Book size: H200mm×W125mm
Pages: 280pages
Language: English/Japanese
Price: 2,970 JPY (Including tax)
On sale at the museum shop and NADiff online site.

Artist interview

Concurrent Exhibition

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