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For the blind man in the dark room...

De Appel Boys' School, Amsterdam

On the occasion of the inauguration of the new exhibition venue 'de Appel Boys' School' de Appel presents a group exhibition celebrates the experience of curiosity and speculation as a form of knowledge. In this exhibition, viewers stop being passive receivers of information and become active participants in a playful spirit of inquiry.

comunicato stampa

Participating artists:

Anonymous, Dave Hullfish Bailey (US), Marcel Broodthaers (BE), Bryssinck en Peeters (BE), Patrick van Caeckenbergh (BE), Sarah Crowner (US), Mariana Castillo Deball (MX), Eric Duyckaerts (BE), Ayse Erkmen (TU), Hans-Peter Feldmann (DE), Peter Fischli & David Weiss (CH), gerlach en koop (NL), Rachel Harrison (US), Giorgio Morandi (IT), Matt Mullican (US), Bruno Munari (IT), Nashashibi/Skaer (UK), Falke Pisano (NL), Jimmy Raskin (US), Frances Stark (US), Rosemarie Trockel (DE) and David William (US/UK)

Curated by Anthony Huberman, chief curator of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (US), i.c.w. Ann Demeester (BE)

‘I know that I know nothing.’

‘A mathematician is like a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there.’
Attributed to Charles Darwin

On the occasion of the move to ‘de Appel Boys’ school’ on the Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat 59 in the Pijp district of Amsterdam, de Appel put on the group exhibition, “For the blind man in the dark room looking for the black cat that isn’t there”. This group exhibition celebrates the experience of curiosity and speculation as a form of knowledge.

The title was taken from a remark attributed to Charles Darwin (1809- 1882), the father of the theory of evolution, who apparently compared mathematics to research by a blind man. In his scientific discipline Darwin attempted to categorise the natural world in a comprehensible way, while he maintained that mathematics was merely concerned with abstractions and was not related to reality in any way. In contrast with Darwin, this exhibition chose to take the part of the proverbial blind man who had the courage to seek in the dark for what may be unfindable. It is an argument for curiosity and speculation as a way of understanding the world and acquiring knowledge. Artists can help us with this. In contrast with science and philosophy, art teaches us that it can be productive to occasionally let go of the knowledge and certainty that have been acquired.

An extensive installation by Matt Mullican, consisting of drawings, flags, diagrams, rubbings, photographs and prints, demonstrated the artist’s completely subjective ‘theory of everything’. Many of the works in the exhibition presented persistent or paradoxical searches for knowledge, while in a series of slides Bruno Munari tirelessly tried to make himself comfortable in an uncomfortable chair. In an audio recording dating from 1970, Marcel Broodthaers asked his cat questions about painting. In a romantic Swiss alpine landscape Peter Fischli & David Weiss reflected on existential questions, morality and aesthetics, dressed as a bear and a rat.

The contributing artists each pursue a better understanding of the world, but also insist that an artwork isn't an explanation and that art is not a code that has to be unlocked. Art is not only and exclusively accessible to the initiated, as long as you can accept that it does not always have to be explained or understood straightaway. Artists sometimes ask us to perceive things in a different way and not to be afraid to leave well-trodden paths. The exhibition presented a number of bold dogmas which revealed that a particular attitude is more important than factual knowledge: be curious, keep on thinking, and don’t always try to understand everything.

The exhibition was curated by Anthony Huberman, the chief curator of the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis in the USA, in collaboration with Ann Demeester (director of the Appel). Following presentations in the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis, the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, and the Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art, the exhibition will be given a new form in the Appel. This stage in the relay concluded with an exhibition in the Culturgest in Lisbon. A book was published with the exhibition, written by Anthony Huberman, composed and designed by Will Holder, and with contributions from Marcel Broodthaers, Sarah Crowner, Eric Duyckhaerts, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Fischli & Weiss, Giorgio Morandi, Rachel Harrison, Rosemarie Trockel and Patrick van Caeckenbergh.

Events in the context of the Exhibition:
(Free entry with an entrance ticket for the exhibition, reservation required via

13 Febr. From 5 pm onwards:
Lecture by curator Anthony Huberman
Film Screening Performance Bryssinck & Peeters

21 February and 21 March, 5 pm
Free Guided Tours throughout the exhibition

28 March Finissage
2pm. Mariana Castillo Deballs 'piñata bashing ceremony';
3pm. Guided tour of the exhibition;
4pm. Sunday school: one work from the exhibition becomes the subject of a close reading by an expert viewer

Image: Ayse Erkmen, "Coffee", 2006, Video, 25 min.

For more information please contact Hiske Zomer via or +31(0) 20 6255651

The inauguration of 'de Appel Jongensschool' & Opening of the Group Exhibition: 12 February 2010, 6 pm.

'de Appel Boys' School'
Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat 59, Amsterdam

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dal 12/4/2012 al 11/5/2012

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