In the exhibition ‘Surf Tribe’ the Belgian photographer Stephan Vanfleteren (Kortrijk, 1969) exposes a culture dominated by a deep respect for the ocean. Vanfleteren looks beyond the traditional surf spots of California and Hawaii and travels all over the world in search of people who live where the ocean meets the land. There he manages to capture the almost fluid community of ‘subjects of the mighty Surf Tribe’ whose only ruler is nature. They are not depicted in action shots while riding azure waves, but in serene black-and-white portraits shot in Vanfleteren’s own pure and gripping style.
The Kunsthal Rotterdam exhibition Action↔Reaction – 100 years of Kinetic Art presents an impressive historical overview of kinetic art, the abstract art movement from the twentieth century focusing on light and movement.
Ten years after his death, the Kunsthal exhibition ‘Hugo Claus, Con amore’ presents the Belgian master in all his facets: poet, novelist, painter, dramatist, film director, socially engaged artist and ‘crafty player’. The exhibition is curated by the film director, author and admirer Marc Didden – ‘not about Claus, but for Claus’ – and sketches an idiosyncratic and highly personal portrait. The exhibition includes original manuscripts, photographs, film and audio fragments, paintings and drawings, collections of poems and novels. Some of them are unique objects that are rarely shown, such as a sketchbook in which Claus made a superb series of new drawings at the end of his life when writing had become more difficult. Besides a selection of paintings and sketches by Hugo Claus, the exhibition also features works by artists who inspired him or who were his friends or associates, such as Karel Appel, Pierre Corneille, Asger Jorn, James Ensor and Léon Spilliaert. Visitors can also discover the original illustrated manuscript of Herbarium, the mythical collection of poems that Claus wrote in a single night for his lover at the time, the actress Ellie Overzier.
In 2009 American photographer Susan Barnett started taking pictures of people on the street with outspoken T-shirts. In contrast to most photographers, Barnett does not aim het camera at the face, but at the ‘printed back’ full of illustrations and mottos. This led to a special form of portrait art. Her fascination with T-shirts began when she photographed a young woman wearing a T-shirt with an African mask print. The sight told Barnett something about the young woman without the camera having to show her face. By now she has taken more than two thousand photos that represent a period full of political, cultural and social issues with slogans like ‘I Will Save the World’, ‘I’m Muslim Don’t Panik’ and ‘Eat the Rich’. The photo exhibition in the Kunsthal Rotterdam presents a selection of more than 65 of Barnett’s photos, in which the typology of the images changes in a fascinating way with the years.
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 […]
In a new body of work, including paintings and a film in three parts, the first premiering in this exhibition, Rosalind Nashashibi explores affective relations and community building. These works follow a non-linear narrative that weaves various intimate settings, some within shared domestic spaces, others in outdoor environments. Shot in Lithuania, London, and Edinburgh, the film features the artist and her children, as well as close friends, which she considers extended family. In the process of creating this new work, Nashashibi questions how a group’s sense of commonality is dissolved when there is an absence of communal experience and adherence to linear time. Through an open-ended discussion of space and time travel in the film, which is in part inspired by the creation and dissolution of group relationships in Ursula Le Guin’s The Shobies’ Story (1990), Nashashibi explores new modes of conviviality, considering the absence of having a nuclear family structure, without an imperative model in sight. For years, Raimundas Malašauskas has collaborated with Nashashibi and is here the guest curator of the exhibition. He has remarked that Nashashibi’s work is the dip of an eye scrolling for a footnote while it reads. Writing about Nashashibi’s new work, Malašauskas points that “by […]
This exhibition centers on Ana María Millán’s artistic research on the relations between digital cultures, gender and performativity. It premieres her animation Wanderlust (2017), commissioned by inSite/Casa Gallina and developed in Mexico City, as well as two other animations by Millán, one created in her native Colombia and another in Germany, where the artist currently lives and works. The exhibition also features a new series of watercolor paintings where Millán portrays the people and their invented gaming characters that were involved and are ultimately featured in her animations. Creating her work in close collaboration with video gamers and Live Action Role Play (LARP) communities, Millán approaches animation as a tool to invent, and at times simply claim, a meaningful space in this world. When taking on the medium of watercolor painting, she explores the fluid identity of these characters within the genre of fantasy, characteristic of gaming culture. This is Ana María Millán’s first solo-exhibition in the Netherlands.
A group exhibition with work by Dora García, Sharon Hayes, Emily Jacir, Mahmoud Khaled, Carlos Motta, Wu Tsang, and Akram Zaatari, as well as a letter by Quinn Latimer
At Witte de With, we have received some trailblazing letters as of late. Noted are missives that go from critiques of our institution’s name to suggestions for why and how we ought to be more inclusive or hospitable. We also receive letters stating how this or that project we’ve done has been influential. Indeed, in most art institutions, epistolary exchanges are part of the work culture. And this is likely to happen more often at institutions that engage people from different parts of the world, not solely from its immediate surroundings. Within this scenario, a time difference is accounted for in one instance or other, even within the most basic of epistolary exchanges. However objectively or subjectively it is experienced, and regardless of whether it is framed as a historical, chronological or technical measure, time is pointed, expressed, felt. No less, these exchanges tend to draw on cultural or geographical divides between correspondents. In this kind of epistolarity, explanation of a spatial-temporal context seems compulsory, more than simply necessary. Consequently, an epistolary underlying expression “of the times” is articulated not only in a given latency or immediacy between sending and receiving dispatches—which, since the emergence of postal service has significantly […]
At Untitled, curatorial and educational goals are intertwined. With art installations and events, as well as a bookstore and an initiative dedicated to collective learning, this long-term project in our now freely accessible ground floor gallery will continuously evolve. The project is designed as a Matryoshka doll, where one work holds another work, which holds another work and so forth. To offer this multi-layered experience, Untitled uses a variety of display mechanisms and presentation formats. Each of these involves different exhibition time-periods, and engage with different attention spans in terms of how they’re experienced.