Alexandre da Cunha
Dewar & Gicquel
Ane Hjort Guttu
William J. O'Brien
A group show featuring fifteen international artists explores distinct artistic practices engaged with notions of conceptual craft and intuitive industry. It seeks to collapse the persistent dichotomy between the practical and the intellectual, and presents a range of works that refuse the binary of concept and form.
Curated by Zoe Gray, assisted by Amira Gad
Witte de With is pleased to announce the exhibition Making is Thinking. This group show featuring fifteen international artists explores distinct artistic practices engaged with notions of conceptual craft and intuitive industry. It seeks to collapse the persistent dichotomy between the practical and the intellectual, and presents a range of works that refuse the binary of concept and form.
An increasing division between making and thinking has marked European society since the Industrial Revolution. With the mechanization of labor, workers were separated into blue- and white-collar jobs, and today our education system privileges the creation of flexible "knowledge workers" over those with practical skills or manual know-how. It is possible to trace a similar division in art since Duchamp's introduction of the readymade in 1913, when the focus of avant-garde artistic practice shifted away from the process of making to the transformative power of the artist's vision. By the 1960s, his legacy was flourishing in the "dematerialized art objects" of conceptual art, and he remains an undeniable progenitor for contemporary practice. Nevertheless, today many artists are still making artworks and engaging with tangible materials. Their practice raises key questions: In our increasingly dematerialized world, how are we to engage with materiality? And how might thoughtful forms of making relate to our supposedly post-industrial society?
In recent years, craft has been held up to epitomize a set of social values that poses an alternative to the logic of industrial production, global capitalism and mass consumerism. This broad idea of craft incorporates many elements of Modernism, is informed by postmodernism, and offers a radical way for rethinking questions of work, both within and beyond the artistic field. Many artists are turning to this expanded notion of craft as a paradigm for making that seems to fuse previously oppositional positions—such as the trace of the artist's hand and conceptual reflection—and are exploring its potential for reconsidering broader questions of production.
Among the artworks included in Making is Thinking, several overlapping areas of interest are discernible: There is a fascination with the role of the amateur, occupied with absurdly time-consuming activities that verge on meditation (Wilfrid Almendra, Dewar & Gicquel, Teppei Kaneuji, Hans Schabus). There is an analysis of the process of creation, and its transformation into a new moment of creation (Hedwig Houben, Ane Hjort Guttu, Edgar Leciejewski). There is an exploration of sculpture's relation to the applied arts, a struggle between functionalism and formalism that avoids any hint of nostalgia (Julia Dault, Rita McBride, Eva Rothschild). There is a flourishing of decoration and beauty within the reassessment of certain Modernist tropes (Eva Berendes, Alexandre Da Cunha). There is the avoidance of conscious thinking and the emphasis on intuitive knowledge (William J. O'Brien, Koki Tanaka). And in many of the works there is a knowing humor or irony, which deflates the pious earnestness that can accompany discussions of craft.
Title: Making is Thinking
Writers: Zoe Gray, Gavin Delahunty, Alice Motard, Yoshiko Nagai, Solveig Ovstebo
Language: English. Published in instalments online at www.wdw.nl, free of charge.
• Wednesday 2 February, 7 pm: Lecture by Rita McBride, "Public Works"
• Sunday 27 February, 3-6 pm: Crafternoon, discussion afternoon with making.
• Every Wednesday and Sunday, 3 pm: tours for individuals in English or Dutch. Free excluding exhibition entry price. No reservation necessary.
• Tours are available for groups of 10-15 people. 60€ per group. firstname.lastname@example.org
• Tuesday 25 January, 10 am-5 pm: Masterclass by Julia Dault & William J. O'Brien. See www.wdw.nl/event for details.
• Throughout March: Workshop by Hedwig Houben at Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam.
• Witte de With Education offers "art confrontations", interactive tours for schools and universities. email@example.com
Goethe-Institut Niederlande, OCA, CulturesFrance, Maison Descartes, Austrian Embassy in The Hague.
Witte de With is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Culture and the City of Rotterdam.
Image: Ane Hjort Guttu, Static Dynamic Tension Force Form Counterform, 2009
C-print, 50 x 70 x 8 cm
Courtesy of the artist
Opening Saturday 22 January, 6-9 pm
Witte de With
Witte de Withstraat 50 - Rotterdam
opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.