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In the late 1960s, during his 30s, the artist and graphic designer Marcos Kurtycz left Poland and took refuge in Mexico, where he lived until his death in 1996. Kurtycz’s mail art “bombs” and metaphoric “bombings,” begun in 1981, are the focus of a display guest-curated by Mauricio Marcín for Untitled at Witte de With. Kurtycz’s Bombs consisted of packages sent by the artist to institutions internationally, and which included drawings, letters, and other printed matter critiquing the academicism of their time. These missives were sent to institutions that, for Kurtycz, were imposing Eurocentric perspectives unto aesthetic production in Latin America. He called these institutions out for creating “aesthetic belts” and importing “imperialist tendencies” that were alien to, or simply unconcerned with, the histories and realities of the region. For Marcín, Kurtycz’s Bombs stand apart from the common understanding that mail is a communication tool that brings interlocutors closer; and that, instead, the artist uses mail art as a weapon that can set the art canon on fire. This display of Kurtycz’s Bombs is sited in one of the two vitrines of Untitled at Witte de With, and this presentation marks the first occasion of their exhibition in the Netherlands.

In 1991, New York artists John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres were commissioned to carry out a public art project in Rotterdam, to be presented in conjunction to their exhibition South Bronx Hall of Fame at Witte de With. To create it, they engaged eight residents of the city’s Cool district, which is also the neighborhood of this institution. In their effort to make art that portrays people in everyday life situations—rather than, say, heroes represented in public monuments or statues—the artists created bust portraits of each of the eight people and hung these sculptures in building facades throughout Cool. Some of the portrayed participants were young then; some older in age. Some of the sculptures figuring them remain in their original site; some were eventually removed. Earlier this year, we reached out to the former participants to see where they were then in life, and where they are now. Not all continue living in Cool, but all are still based in Rotterdam, for the exception of one, who has passed away. We also went to seek out the remaining sculptures on-site, and brought along with us the photographer who originally documented the process and project in 1991. Untitledfeatures a display of archival images […]

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