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Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Presents Gabriel Lester Suspension of Disbelief

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is staging the first major solo exhibition in a museum setting by Gabriel Lester, one of the most promising artists of his generation. You can visit the Suspension of Disbelief exhibition from 12 February. Lester’s total installation is composed of ten works produced specially for this presentation alongside a few earlier pieces. His exhibition is, as it were, a collection of magical beliefs.

After realising important projects and exhibitions in São Paulo, Stockholm, London and Istanbul, the Dutch artist Gabriel Lester (b. 1972) will be exhibiting his work in Rotterdam from 12 February to 8 May 2011. His Suspension of Disbelief exhibition occupies two galleries, its dozen or so works revolving around concepts such as fortune and misfortune, expectation, superstition, rituals, magical beliefs, prophecies and, in particular, fate and destiny. For the exhibition at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Gabriel Lester has specially created an immersive total installation in which all these concepts play a part.

Literary term
The title ‘Suspension of Disbelief’ was originally a literary term that found its way into cinema in the course of the 20th century. It concerns the readiness of the public to accept a film as true, even though it contains elements that are highly improbable. With this title Lester is alluding not only to the significance of cinema in his work, but is also using the term in the sense of ‘wanting to believe in’ and ‘accepting’ the illusion.

Magical beliefs
One of the works, the light installation ‘How to Act’ (1999) plays a cinematographic game with light and sound and the expectations this arouses. Life’s big themes, such as prosperity, adversity, joy and sorrow, feature as an imageless projection before the viewer.

In the film ‘The Big One’ (2011), the counterpart of ‘How to Act’, the suggestion is provided by footage of a gathering of people who have assembled for a ritual invocation of fate.

The film represents the gravitational pull of magical belief, the need to attribute value to non-existent connections. In another film in the exhibition, ‘Cleromancy #2’ (2010), Lester stages a lottery draw like those seen all over the world in a well-nigh abstract interplay of colour and movement.

Intangible world
Fate – the unknown and uncertain future – plays a prominent role in Suspension of Disbelief. Lester is interested in the human idiosyncrasy of wanting to have a grip on the intangible world. ‘Magical belief’ is one of the ways to survive in the unpredictable universe. The installations, sculptures and films show various instances of people trying to fathom out fate. In his ‘Suspension of Disbelief’ presentation, Lester immerses the public in an experience that is as conceptual as it is sensual.

Lester has a cinematic way of working: he isolates elements such as light, scenery, music and image and subsequently moulds them to his will using techniques such as montage and framing.

Various activities are being organised in connection with the exhibition, including a lecture by Gabriel Lester about magical beliefs on Sunday, 13 March in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. To see the newest films and videos, visit:

Image: Gabriel Lester, “Children at the Wheel. From the artist’s collection.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museumpark 18-20
NL-3000 CG Rotterdam
The Netherlands

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