Remy Jungerman, Flattened Toad Force (2000)
Transformation and (failed) communication are important themes in the work of the Surinamese-Dutch artist Remy Jungerman. In particular, he focuses on the communication rift that can originate between different cultures or by living in a different culture from your own. His background, the multicultural Surinam, plays a considerable part in his work.
In the installation Flattened Toad Force, a jungle of wires connects satellite dishes to each other in a non-functional way. There is a rostrum with microphones. The wires are not plugged in and are caught up in a hopeless tangle. The wall sculpture displays a motif that keeps coming back in Jungerman’s work: the flatened toad. Jungerman is fascinated by the toad – an amphibian that features in many Surinamese stories and myths – and especially by its capacity to survive in different environments and to transform itself.
The choice for adventure and transformation is essential to get a flagging dialogue going again and to encourage communication. To Jungerman, the toad that has been flattened by the wheels of a vehicle is the perfect metaphor for people who have dared to take the risk of undergoing a transformation. Venturing to cross the road – like Jungerman did when moving from Surinam to the Netherlands – invariably shapes and transforms a person. ‘What fascinates me about toads is their shape and their ability of camouflage. We people are just like flattened toads, one-dimensional, one colour. We can no longer camouflage ourselves, no longer adapt.’
The possibility of transformation is given a very concrete expression in Jungerman’s use of materials. The artist always works with existing materials and reuses his materials to make new work. The new context in which it is used also changes its meaning.
Jungerman made the installation Flattened Toad Force for his eponymous solo show at Museum De Paviljoens in 2000. It is the first complete installation by Jungerman that was purchased by a museum. Two years before that, his work Bread (1998) had already been added to The Almere Collection. In 2003, Flattened Toad Force was in the exhibition Black My Story.
Remy Jungerman, Flattened Toad Force
Remy Jungerman, b. 1959, Marowijne, Surinam
Flattened Toad Force, 2000
Installation, mixed technique
(rostrum, satellite dishes and flag)
purchased in 2000, Museum De Paviljoens