Beyond An Institution That Is

Aware that an exhibition will never truly fit within a book, this publication is conceived as a continuation and expansion of Bik Van der Pol’s exhibition project ‘WERE IT AS IF‘, commissioned by Witte de With in 2016 (27 May – 21 August 2016)  as a long-term investigation into the history and physical archive of the institution.

Paying close attention to the socio-economic and political context in which the institution was created, and departing from the belief that cultural institutions and their legacies are as much made up of stories, ephemeral objects, and subtle traces, Bik Van der Pol’s process can be likened to a long term forensic investigation that examines, tests and actively exposes that which lies concealed in the folds of history.

Simultaneously unveiling and adding layers of information and interpretation, the contributing authors along with Bik Van der Pol each seek to answer what traces are left, what echos remain (un)heard, and how these affect the future of contemporary art, both focussing on the specific case of Witte de With, the city of Rotterdam, and today’s global social and economic predicament.

This publication is supported by Mondriaan Fonds and follows the exhibition WERE IT AS IF by artists Bik Van der Pol at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (27 May–21 August 2016), curated by Defne Ayas and Samuel Saelemaker.

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