This is reality is the graduation exhibition of the Piet Zwart Institute Master Fine Art class of 2022. This year, the exhibitions are installed in Showroom MAMA, UBIK and the S/ash Gallery, all located on or around the Witte de Withstraat in the centre of Rotterdam.

Artiesten: Andrea Celeste La Forgia, Emma van Noort, Grazia Gallo, Kate Price, Madeleine Ruggi, María José Crespo, Oliver Doe, Xiaofeini Liu, Samboleap Tol, Shertise Solano.

Curated by Kim de Haas (MAMA)

This is reality and it was but one chat away

A real chat is hard to come by. Trust is in short supply. But trust is needed to get a chat going, and let it generate what may qualify as social reality.

Reality is trembling. Where desire, grief, and power are at stake, many demons populate society, pulling people together and apart. Orange letters rub up against their lavender grounds in Oliver Doe’s large canvases, boldly making viewers’ retinas vibrate as performers lingering nearby signal, to whom it appeals, a readiness to engage in the poetry of clandestinely scripted encounters. Seeds, plants, clay plate poetry for garden beds, and fermented vegetable paintings are elements Kate Price offers up as tokens of trust, inspiring a commitment to fostering future ecologies. In her paintings and videos, Shertise Solano summons the multidimensional beings her grandmother in Curaçao still knew how to converse with, and who, channeled afresh, voice unaccounted traumata and limitless powers arising from the recollected history of Black families.

Places of encounter are ripe with tensions. Grazia Gallo trusts sculpture to rebuild a sense of a home, where generations clash, as the family improvises in close quarters a state-imposed architecture of social housing, to keep spirits up, and claim dignity in everyday matters. María José Crespo takes you to the Tijuana border, and in her sculptural environments makes you feel the intensities governing a strip of land where police lights color reality red and blue on CCTV, and paths are blocked, but the will to get by asserts itself with full defiance. Meanwhile, at the Metal Exchange all things solid melt into air with a flick of a trader’s hand, as Madeleine Ruggi shows. Her installation portrays how capital puts its spell on materials, and turns heavy scrap into currency flowing through Rotterdam harbor. Tracking the current make-over of port city real estate, Emma van Noort messes with the building blocks of model architecture: her sculptures scramble its vocabulary and recast it in the spirit of high precision slapstick engineering.

Stories build worlds. Xiaofeini Liu calls a universe into being with few objects and words, as she recounts the fate of a Mice Folk leaving their Salt Marshes in search of a Sugar Book, a taste of which was prophesied to bring bliss. Universities, like factories, once promised a future. In her paintings and performance, Andrea Celeste La Forgia commemorates the toll workers pay when that promise is broken, and the mill of wage labor grinds away time and health. La Forgia paints from photos her mother sends of her factory work, and relays her stories of everyday sabotage. A better life cannot be built unless communal mourning prepares the ground. In this key Samboleap Tol addresses displacement and death, yet also parenting and spiritual practice in her paintings and sound installation. After colonial modernities have destroyed and uprooted countless lives, she observes, restless spirits abound who must be engaged for justice to come. Across multidimensional realities, liaising with ghosts can be done, says Tol: Chat with them daily!

By Jan Verwoert

Performance programme



19.30 – 20.00 at Showroom MAMA

By Andrea Celeste La Forgia 

Performers: Andra Celeste La Forgia, Silvia Arenas, Niloufar Nematollahi, Sarah Aztori, Tiago Santos, Linus Bonduelle

I keep changing the way I have to address you

By Oliver Doe

Duration variable




18.15 – 18.45 at Showroom MAMA

By Andrea Celeste La Forgia 

Performers: Andrea Celeste La Forgia, Silvia Arenas, Niloufar Nematollahi, Sarah Aztori, Tiago Santos, Linus Bonduelle



Witnessing as a method of getting through gateways

18.00 – 18.40 at Kunstinstituut Melly auditorium 

By María José Crespo and Madeleine Ruggi


Where is my karaoke?

18.50 – 19.05 at Kunstinstituut Melly auditorium

By Samboleap Tol


Artists statements

A mammal travels the earth and recognises herself as a storytelling artist and maker in this life.

Crossing disciplinary, practicing serious jokes, playing with different materials, singing semi-
privately and writing secretly, she shares her whispers from time to time for those who happen to

be intrigued.

Miscellany of A Paralleled Realm

Oliver Doe (b. 1994) explores queer communication through varying levels of coding and abstraction. Research into use of colour, gesture, and other non-verbal lexicons as coded languages for cruising or signalling identity is central to this work, as well as the queer possibilities of abstraction within verbal language. 

With these works they are investigating Queer Linguistics and its (de)construction; queer uses of existing language; and abstracted and queered modes of interpersonal (and societal) communication. Considering repetition, indexing, code-switching and citation as the building blocks of (queer) language, their works modulate and bend these foundations to highlight the mobility and malleability of language in queer use.

Doe’s recent research has been focused on linguistic abstraction as a performative mode that can both construct and deconstruct the possibilities of queer identity categories, communicating desire or identity beyond language as we expect it. This work focuses particularly on paralanguages used in the realms of cruising and drag – on ways in which they are abstracted through time and situation, but also have significant overlaps and divergences that defy being understood from the outside.


You have to keep changing the way I address you, the way you address me

Meditation on Memory

See her shadows create a hypnotic pattern of black and white, whispering against the white sky! She’s a blur of wiped-out black. Nothing is what it seems.“Ahin alim tsfom eglags.”

She starts moving her body, letting a deep voice direct her.  

She personally can’t understand the voice… but her body seems to.  

HAHAHAHA… Spirit U All. 

She’s looking good!


You Know You Looking Good, Shertise Solano, 2022, oil stick on paper. 

Meditation on Memory, Shertise Solano, 2022, video, duration: 10:46 

Screenings on the hour.

Fast communications over long distances

On a visit to a Rotterdam ship-salvage yard, Madeleine Ruggi was offered scrap metal that had come from a former oil-rig supply ship. Fast communications over long distances explores Ruggi’s fascination with the shifting values of this used material, which she’d intercepted just before its processing. The metal’s shifting economy — from working ship, to wreckage, to recycled goods — drew Ruggi to consider cycles of trade and value, into which she’s now marginally been inserted.

The ordinary, small-scale materials throughout Ruggi’s art — a slice of ship exterior; a VHF radio scanner; imitation wire fencing like that which often denies her site access; impressions of stock-exchange gesticulations — are fragments within gargantuan trade industries devoted to fueling and enabling consumption in the global West. Ruggi’s selected partial objects act as departure points to confront the commodity exchange that she too is inextricably involved in. Her personal, bodily encounters with both these loaded materials and the people working with them connects states of desire with demand directly, while also implying macro-constructs of mediation and power that serve them.

placing the seed, disssspersing the seeds

a composition of toings and froings


looking, sitting, touching, listening, moving, sharing, layering, digging, collecting, wiggling, holding, grasping, maintaining…


Within Kate’s practice is a curiosity towards the manoeuvres we make singularly and collectively within our environs. Drawing from her upbringing on a horticultural farm in Australia, her activities at communal gardens in Rotterdam and gardening adventures carried out solo and with friends, she is presently considering how gardening practices can facilitate moments of exchange, reciprocity and relationship fostering. She is interested in the divergent stories and knowledges that embed themselves in these moments, where actions, spoken words, reflectivity, history and memory intermingle. Different perspectives being woven together, sat alongside each other across temporalities, seeding thoughts in a sometimes clear, other times murky pool of navigation. Her works take form through means of present gestures and gathering and reflecting sensibilities, existing materially at times through painting, installation building, sound, writing and ceramics. 


…talking, negotiating, messying, deciding, explaining, receiving, accepting, affecting, frictioning, doing, busying, slowing, coffeeing, planting, lingering

“A set of conditions, constantly being updated”

By unfolding unclear spaces as zones of possibilities, the installation operates as a orientation device that positions the audience to encounter the in-betweenness of a border crossing zone and surveillance mechanisms employed to administer ambiguous semi-informal spaces of existence. Meanwhile legality cannot slim into the most quotidian spaces of negotiation, other gestures expand local limits and are performed by agents that claim the territory because they own it.

This zone not only belong to the borderlands as a geographical space but to other unclear arenas like a port, a migration card, or a legal treaty, and is informed by images sent on a police chat and poetic language for abstracting territories found on legal treaties. These observations become an amalgamation of feelings, details, systems, and images that are held together by the resilience that bodies encounter there, developing wrappers and performing self-governance in its materialities. But what are the conditions of this meeting? How does the currency of this zone get fixed? The answer is always-already twice, an unsharpened edge effect.

The set of conditions is proposed here as a double-vision zone composed by elements that embody the failure of its administration, addressing contingent relations of materialities within their surroundings and mediators. These relations are plural and positioned in different times as layers, nevertheless they remain the same: a permanent conflict between what is concealed and what is revealed.



The struggles I encounter daily to achieve personal and economic stability are guiding my research and influencing my attitude towards making new works. By acknowledging my roots as a Southern Italian woman and appreciating  its values, 

I am finding the strength to speak out loud about the urge I have for constructing my own personal world. An environment which is created halfway between facts and nostalgic feelings with the desire to form alternative spaces from where I can operate and forge connections with my close surroundings.

Hair salons are those spaces that host verbal communications; most often these places become the reflectors for people seeking  a new look- a new identity.

The hairdresser is one of these “social jobs” like the bartender, taxi driver and so forth where people share their stories in a very casual way often not even being aware of exposing themself to a semi-stranger.  La Grazieria is an installation that reflects upon places of belonging related to migration and cultural heritage.

Soft Corners of Concrete Marble Possibilities is a series of works that refer to architectural anecdotes. I deliberately and sometimes subconsciously borrow their visual appearance from repeating moments in my day. Walking from the station to the studio, from the studio to the workshops and from the workshops home. My home that was under construction influenced my sculptural language and interest in standardized infrastructures that manipulate our movement. I remake and reuse materials I moved to build an infrastructure. I look for characters in the objects or materials when I display and displace them to form a new contextual collaboration.

Samboleap Tol (1990) is a Khmer Dutch artist and researcher based in Rotterdam. Tol is concerned about the wellbeing of diasporic people. Throughout her work, she wonders what has been left behind in ‘the motherland’ and what has been gained in ‘the new world’. She examines holders of knowledge (such as manuscripts & objects), community leaders of the past and present, and their abilities to transfer timeless knowledge to the ones in the future: us, and our children. She questions what it means to ‘stay ourselves’ by asking: what constitutes our origins, our losses and what have we done to reconstruct them ourselves?

“What would our grandparents, had they not been colonized, have given to us as advice?”

Samboleap is a research associate at The Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN), University of Arts London. She has exhibited across London, including Tate Modern and South London Gallery, and has given artist talks at Camberwell University of the Arts, Framer Framed and more. She studied Fine Arts at Central Saint Martins and Media at Erasmus University & University of Sydney.


Dharma Songs

Growing up in Rimini, Italy, my mother would leave the house at 6 am to start work at the local pasta factory. She’d return home at 5pm. 25 years later, she’s still working the same job. Throughout the years, her body reshaped, her health too. Over time, what became congealed into her body? My work addresses the female body in relation to labour. What does it mean, both historically and in the present, for women to embody and drive the struggle against their exploitation and suppression? I re-contextualise archival material to critically reflect on history and its continued relevance to contemporary conditions of structural inequality and precarity. Through the mediums of performance, painting and sculpture I bring together the personal and the political, using my family’s experience as a backdrop to explore the contemporary working-class.

Andrea Celeste La Forgia (1995) lives and works in Rotterdam. Recent exhibitions include I Must Be Living Twice at Palazzo Massimo (Venice, IT), John Moores Painting Prize at the Walker Art Gallery (Liverpool, UK) and The Independent at MAXXI (Rome, IT).

About Networks

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