May 10, 2016 - Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art - Bik Van der Pol: WERE IT AS IF / Marwa Arsanios: What representations? / Ahmed Bouanani: I want to possess in this world that which brings joy to the eyes…
May 10, 2016

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art

A draft floorplan for the exhibition Contemporary Arab Representations—Beirut/Lebanon, 2002. Source: Witte de With archive

Bik Van der Pol: WERE IT AS IF
Marwa Arsanios: What representations?
Ahmed Bouanani: I want to possess in this world that which brings joy to the eyes…
May 27–August 21, 2016

Opening: May 26, 5–8pm

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art
Witte de Withstraat 50
3012 BR Rotterdam
The Netherlands
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As Witte de With confronts its collection of traces from past decades of exhibition-making, the center hosts a series of artistic and curatorial approaches to source materials from institutional and personal archives. The first commissions in the series of WDW25+ variously deconstruct and engage with canonical moments in its own history and provide a platform for previously unacknowledged cultural histories and figures whose presentation will loop back into and supplement Witte de With’s archive.

Bik Van der Pol
WERE IT AS IF
with a tour by Bik Van der Pol on the opening day Thursday May 26, 5pm
with exhibition readings by: June 9: Samira Ben Laloua; June 30: Lex ter Braak; July 21: Maziar Afrassiabi; August 5: Wouter Davidts.

What is hidden, forgotten, cast away, or overlooked in the day-to-day operations of a cultural institution? How does one make tangible the container of knowledge that envelops the factual succession of exhibitions and publications? Can artists become active and responsible co-creators of institutions, their politics, and representations?

Artists Bik Van der Pol are invited by Witte de With Director Defne Ayas to highlight what might otherwise become lost in both the history of the institution as well as art’s history in the city of Rotterdam. Paying close attention to the socio-economic and political context in which the institution was created, Bik Van der Pol’s process carried out in close dialogue with artists and staff members examines and actively exposes that which lies concealed in the folds of history. Equating seemingly-in-the-fringes material—leftovers, support structures, plans, notes, stories, and witness reports—to the level of artworks, and so exploring the viability of approaching "archival document" as "art," and "art" as "source material," the artists revive histories preserved in the documentation of exhibitions, while reenergizing the work of artists such as John Ahearn, Ken Lum, Antoni Muntadas, Eugenio Dittborn, Eleanor Bond, John Knight, and Allan Sekula. The exhibition is complemented by several guest readings into the methodologies and choices of display.

Marwa Arsanios
What Representations?
with a roundtable discussion on the opening day Thursday May 26, 3–5pm
with participants Hisham Ashkar (academic, Lebanon), Tony Chakar (architect/writer, Lebanon), Ghalya Saadawi (writer/academic, Lebanon), Hanan Toukan (academic, Lebanon).

The project sees Marwa Arsanios (artist and co-founder of 98Weeks Research Project) critically engage with "Contemporary Arab Representations," a series initiated by former Director Catherine David at Witte de With from 2001 onwards to present the activities of cultural and intellectual actors across the Arab world. Considering the series as one part of an ecology of artist, institution, market, and real estate in post-war Lebanon, Arsanios explores how the canon is formed and written into history; what informed this situation at the time ('90s onward), why and how do artists get written out of certain histories? 

Ahmed Bouanani
I want to possess in this world that which brings joy to the eyes… 
with a screening and talk on Saturday July 16, 3–6pm

Expanding archival approaches, Omar Berrada and Touda Bouanani curate a presentation of the as yet unformalized archive of influential writer, filmmaker and illustrator Ahmed Bouanani (1938–2011, Morocco) including unpublished manuscripts, drawings, and screenplays, alongside screenings of his films translated into English for the first time. Artist Ali Essafi’s work further considers the role of the archive in North African film from the post-colonial era.

Credits: 
Director: Defne Ayas
Curators: Natasha Hoare, Samuel Saelemakers 

WDW25+ is a staff-wide endeavor with an expanded team that includes archeologist Marjolijn Kok and 2016 Curatorial Fellow Marie Egger.

WERE IT AS IF is supported by the Mondriaan Fund. WDW25+ is in part supported by the J.E. Jurriaanse Foundation.

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Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art
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WERE IT AS IF
Marwa Arsanios
What representations?
Ahmed Bouanani
I want to possess in this world that which brings joy to the eyes…
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