With the exhibition ‘Doppelganger’, Kunsthal Rotterdam is presenting a site-specific installation by the Dutch artist Willem Besselink. The exhibition – part of the ‘Kunsthal Light’ programme – reflects the artist’s thought process. For this installation Besselink drew his inspiration from the architecture of the Kunsthal, designed by Koolhaas, and from the building structures and materials of HAL 6 in particular. Some details of the building, such as the angle of inclination of the floor and the turned supports of the roof structure, form the points of departure for this installation (1:1 scale) that will radically transform and emphasise the structure of the space. Visitors will suddenly find themselves standing amongst some of the building’s architectural structures that they would normally have passed without noticing.
This presentation in the two vitrines in Untitled is the third in a series based on the rich exhibition archive of Witte de With. The long-term projectContemporary Arab Representations ran from 15 September 2002 until 2 November 2003.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan, a solo exhibition presents a new co-commission by the Beirut-based artist and ‘private ear’. Featuring three newly designed sound instruments, over ninety sourced objects and an audio work, Earwitness Theatre (2018) explores the political effects of listening through the hallucinatory world of the ear-witness. The new commission is presented alongside Abu Hamdan’s recent film Walled Unwalled (2018), which together develop the artist’s ear-witness investigation into the Syrian regime prison of Saydnaya, which the artist was invited to carry out in partnership with Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture, Goldsmiths University, London, as part of a broader enquiry. Abu Hamdan’s exhibition is commissioned and produced by Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in partnership with Chisenhale Gallery, London; Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; and the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane. It will ibe presented at the partner venues throughout 2019.
Firelei Báez was born in 1980 in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, and currently lives and works in Newa York. With a convergence of interests in anthropology, science fiction, black female subjectivity, and women’s work, Baéz is interested in how culture and identity are shaped by inherited histories. Approaching selfhood as malleable, her work serves as a defense against culturally predetermined ethnic stereotypes as maintained and perpetuated by dominant narratives. Drawing attention to the incomplete nature of our communal stories, Baéz creates alternate environments in which cultures, disparate or alike, can commune. In this exhibition, a new body of work is presented featuring three paintings and a large-scale installation manifest from the artist’s research on the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) and its enduring significance.
An exhibition with an audio script by Sarah Demeuse and Wendy Tronrud, as well as a soundtrack by Mario García Torres in collaboration with Sol Oosel
“I would prefer not to,” is a famed and much repeated line in Herman Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street (1853). Bartleby is the character of this fiction piece, first published in two-parts and later compiled as a single story. As an office desk worker who had worked in the dead letter office, which administers undeliverable mail, Bartleby sees no way out of the system. Dropping out of a system—for example, the one of the so-called art world—has been a recurring move for many who have little to no expectations of, or common beliefs in, a normative, and especially urban, environment. An exhibition with an audio script by Sarah Demeuse and Wendy Tronrud, as well as a soundtrack by Mario García Torres in collaboration with Sol Oosel explores various cases of dropping out. In a deserted gallery environment, illustrated through the color scales of dawn, morning, high noon, twilight, and night, two sound pieces are available. On the one hand, an audio-script is accessed through wireless headphones; on the other, a music soundtrack is featured as the exhibition’s lyrical ambience. The exhibition is considered an emotional cartography of dropping out. Demeuse and Tronrud’s script asks what force fields—economic, gender, race, […]
The exhibition “Objectivity. The Art of Useful Things” in the Kunsthal, Rotterdam, presents the result of the collecting mania of British design teacher and architect David Usborne (1939, London). He has a fascination for the form and aesthetics of objects that have been rendered functionless over time. Industry is constantly designing and developing new products, a process whereby others lose their purpose. As a collector, Usborne visits many second-hand markets, casting a predatory eye over thousands of objects, searching for interesting combinations of form, material, elegance, and mysterious uselessness. The circa 140 objects selected for the exhibition form a real modern-day cabinet of curiosities. Some products exhibit a similarity to animal or human appearances, while others seem to be art objects. Most symbolize to a useful function from a foregone era, whereby we ask ourselves what their purpose could have been?
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.
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 […]
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.