an other world
15/12/23 - 20/01/24| EXHIBITION
Above the Couch| Angelica Falkeling
Opening Friday, December 15, 18h-21h
Closing & artist talk: Saturday, January 20, 16h
Visiting days and hours: Friday, Saturday, 14h-18h and by appointment
The space is closed during the holiday break: December 23, 2023 - January 4, 2024.

thump, bump, plunk, flop
thump, bump, plunk, flop
I squeeze wet clay into a firm little ball. I take aim and throw it as hard as I can against the wall.
The noise of art therapy next door.
thump, bump, plunk, flop
thump, bump, plunk, flop
It is the sound of wet clay being thrown at a wall, focused anger.

This exhibition, entitled Above the Couch, consists of a series of drawings I started to create of memories that I have strongly avoided and feared. I sometimes trembled when trying to feel and think about them. Some of these memories are also so mundane that it has been hard for me to access what made them so terrifying and why their environments felt so unsafe.

The mental health professional I have been working with while making the drawings has not necessarily guided me in their making but rather just been open to the different ways one potentially can unlock shit no one longer wants to carry and start stirring the pot. Together we drew a large rough map of the layout of the house and garden where I grew up. By covering up rooms with a piece of paper, I could start to physically and emotionally regulate, and therefore stay within my window-of-tolerance. I could then start to pick rooms and textures from this sketch and draw the scenes individually. Each of these sessions would give me nightmares. After being mentally sick, experiencing flashbacks, hallucinating, hearing voices, running through psychotic episodes, comes the aftermath of recovering from the exhaustion these trauma symptoms cause.

Going through all of this, I have found zero interest in artistically criticizing mental health and individual psychotherapy as symptoms of internalized colonial capitalism (which I might desire at another point in life, who knows). I would rather focus on what brought me joy. Several physical activities such as handstands, roller skating and lifting weights did. Artworks and exhibitions I encountered on the topic felt too distanced or caught up in their own loop - the beautiful thing with art-therapy focused image making is that it holds connected conversation during its making-, so I decided to linger with the idea of gradually sharing these drawings with you, feeling unsure what they have become but sure they will continue to travel.

For the last couple of months, I have cared for them through textile handicrafts and I have been convincing myself that hanging an image on the wall is ok, because hanging pictures on the walls are what I professionally fear the most - Johan and Dick, I finally won the bet, here is my first ‘painting show’.

The exhibition Above the Couch is accompanied with a text written by artist, art-therapist and editor Cannach MacBride.

Above the Couch is the second part of On Mending, a three part project that explores the theme of healing as a collective experience or practice. The works in the programme explore alternatives to healing by encounters with plants, migration histories and art therapy. As all three projects that are part of On Mending deal with pain, trauma and grief, they point to relevant questions about how to occupy uncomfortable situations rather than deny their existence.


Angelica Falkeling is a white queer Scandinavian artist, costume designer, craft enthusiast, educator, performer, occasional musician, seamstress, and writer based in Rotterdam with a Master of Fine Art from the Piet Zwart Institute (2017), a Bachelor of Fine Art from Malmö Art Academy and the International Academy of Art Palestine (2014). They often collaborate with others, approaching fiber arts as a material and relational practice. Their seamstress background serves as a web, browsing textile craft techniques; crochet, embroidery, knitting, and sewing into their sculptural practice. They depart from the dressed body and textiles as what makes spaces livable. They connect vulnerability, hard (metal) and soft (textile) materials, and skilled and unskilled labor as joint sequences in installations. In a broad sense their research focuses on garment history, tacit knowledge and performing fun. Their work has been exhibited and performed at Textielmuseum Tilburg, Het Nieuwe Instituut, CCA Glasgow, Rib Rotterdam, SIGNAL Malmö, Temporary Gallery and Tensta Konsthall.

Cannach MacBride is an artist. At the moment they are mostly doing writing, editing, and learning events but they make performances, installations, videos, and sound. They worked in the care industry for many years both alongside their practice and during long periods when they couldn’t identify as an artist. From 2008–2014, they trained and worked as an art therapist in Scotland. This taught them a lot about art, knowledge paradigms, and healthcare systems and cultures. It was while working as an art therapist that they first accessed formal mental health services for themself.

From 2018–2020, Falkeling and MacBride were part of a collective that ran a queer community center in Rotterdam called Tender Center.

Supported by Gemeente Rotterdam.
Photos by Jake Caleb.

***Follow the link below to listen to Angelica Falkeling in conversation with Jake Caleb***