Roy Villevoye: Propeller

Roy Villevoye (b. 1960)
The Fifth Man, 2003
Chromogenic print
40” x 60”
Courtesy the artist

(March 23 – May 12, 2006)

Since the mid-1990s, the Dutch artist Roy Villevoye has been working with photography, installation, and video in the Asmat, a virtually impassable swampy region along the southern coast of Irian Jaya (New Guinea), in Indonesia.

The exhibition includes large-format photographs, an artist’s book, and two films: Beginnings (2005) and Propeller (2004). In both films, Villevoye replicates the passage of real time and avoids artificial conventions such as voice-overs or linear progression. Beginnings (recipient, 2006 Tiger Award for Short Film, Rotterdam International Film Festival) explores our concept of origins and our desire for paradise, or our wish to recover an idealized existence. In Propeller, Villevoye unravels the history of an aircraft propeller found in the depths of the jungle by interviewing an Asmat elder, the Dutch pilot, and others. Like his films, Villevoye’s photographs reveal a cross-cultural ambiguity reflected, for example, by Papuans wearing t-shirts with commercial logos and political messages. These images confront the viewers’ expectations, and invite us to look again at our assumptions about both native populations and our own commercial society.

To hear a discussion with the artist about the work in this exhibition, click here.