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"Divination and magic are the two structuring motifs of Cultivating Probability. Foretelling the future is an act of magic yet magic is not always about predictions. Whereas in antiquity prophecy was a divine ‘gift’, in modernity the future is ‘calculated’. Hence, the regulative polarity that Marjolijn Dijkman’s installation exploits as film, sculpture and sound: the indeterminacy of the magical event vs. the determinacy of reason that calculates and predicts.

The fine exploitation of the border between determinacy and indeterminacy turns the installation into an opportunity to reflect on a relevant cultural problem, namely the different ways in which one can understand enchantment. On the one hand, there is the ‘primitive’ enchantment with magic as an unexpected happening or as the realisation of a premonition. On the other hand, there is the modern regime of magic as enchanting entertainment and persuasive seduction; the media is full of ‘unexpected’ encounters that fascinate – fascinum as phallic evil spell – and entertain, like magicians and bewitching spectacles."

Fragment from: 'Decommissioned Truths Marjolijn Dijkman’s Cultivating Probability' - Vlad Ionescu, 2017

Cultivating Probability



Cultivating Probability
is based on research into the way how people, in different times and cultures, try to predict and influence decision making processes and the future paths of specific situations.

Some of the objects in the installation are interpretations of ceremonial objects found in the collections of Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden and the Africa Museum in Berg en Dal in the Netherlands, that were made to predict – or ward off – the future. Others are influenced by historical as well as contemporary objects, rituals or technologies that are used to predict or influence the future around the world.

The sculptural objects part of Cultivating Probability speculate and unite attitudes and rituals from different cultures and periods of time into a kind of fictional anthropological display. The installation consists of a collection of diverse objects, which are spread throughout the exhibition space where some are susceptible to change and movement.

Materials: Wood / black engine grease / 90 x 90 x 70 cm; burned wood / Ink / 50 x 80 cm; handmade unbaked clay objects / metal binary tokens (approx. 2500 in total); metal dish / water / ink / robotics / diameter 1,20 m; full copper / 2 cm diameter x various lengths; burned yellow sand / tin.

Commissioned by 'Global Imaginations', Museum de Lakenhal & The National Museum of World Cultures, Leiden, NL