Maja Klaassens The view is total sea

May 13–Jun 24,  2023
Joys ⁠ accessible_forward
    Maja Klaassens, Little Saga, 2023. Courtesy of the artist
Maja Klaassens, Little Saga, 2023. Courtesy of the artist

This new body of work by multidisciplinary artist Maja Klaassens, born in Aotearoa/New Zealand and based in The Hague, unfolds across media including photography, video, text, sculpture, and painting. The exhibition approaches the familiarity and suspense bound to practices of framing, exploring how narrative techniques used in film and literature influence experiences, memories, and perceptions of place.

Maja Klaassens, Pebble Stack, 2023 (rocks, wood, acrylic; 8×1.2×1.5in). Courtesy of the artist

An essential component of storytelling, editing is a central theme and method of inquiry in Klaassens’ project. The editorial process addresses the layered complexities of lived experience, transforming them into legible stories. Editing involves emphasis, fragmentation, and distillation, which can alter the tone of the story itself. In Clementina (2022)—a snapshot of discarded San Pellegrino packaging foil lying on a shady terrace—the artist demonstrates how a seemingly insignificant detail can be pulled into focus, alluding to grander narratives that often remain concealed.

Maja Klaassens, Clementina, 2022 (chromogenic print, reusable glass straws, wood, aluminium; 13×9.25×0.75in). Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Jhoeko

The view is total sea experiments with literary and cinematic techniques of repetition, withholding, montage, and allegory to explore the way events are picked apart and put back together. Recurring motifs including rose thorns and dorsal fins appear throughout the gallery space, each embodying an act of severance in their own right. Photographs present sea caves as windows—some framing the ocean, others peering into an unknown darkness. In her new video work titled Villette (2023), Klaassens prioritizes B-roll footage, typically used to create atmosphere in service of a film’s main plot. Rather than using B-roll to usher along a narrative sequence, Villette creates an infinite backdrop, producing a sense of buildup and suspense that never ceases.

Maja Klaassens, Villette, 2023 (still from HD video, 16 min). Courtesy of the artist

The exhibition’s title borrows a quote from Iris Murdoch’s novel, The Sea, The Sea (1978), in which a narrator moves to an isolated coastal house with plans to write his memoirs. Instead, the protagonist becomes obsessed with dragging romanticized memories into the present. In the same way Murdoch describes the ocean through her protagonist’s window, Klaassens addresses mediated views of the outside world. Embracing the editorial impulse, her works float between reality and fantasy, illuminating the desires and anxieties behind the editorial impulse.

Maja Klaassens, Thorn, 2022 (ongoing series of unique sculptures; polymer clay, chalk pastel, magnet; variable dimensions). Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij

Curated by Danica Pinteric

Presented by Joys with support from the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Toronto

Maja Klaassens (b.1989, NZ) works across mediums to explore the influence of literature and film on our experience of reality. Klaassens holds a BFA from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (2014), and a MA in Contemporary Art History from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (2021). She recently presented her solo exhibition Orca at Dürst Britt and Mayhew Frontspace, The Hague, and has exhibited at Parts Project and Billytown, The Hague; ABC Klubhuis, Antwerp; At7, Amsterdam, and art fairs including Poppositions (BE), Juxtapose (DK), and Art The Hague (NL). In 2020, she received the Stroom PRO Research Grant.