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?
Artist duo Bik Van der Pol is 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 socioeconomic
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. For WERE IT AS
IF, artists Bik Van der Pol also created a special sound piece, which is the result of
conversations with select artists, graphic designers and cultural agents from
Rotterdam as well as current and former Witte de With staff members. The
exhibition is complemented by several guest readings into the methodologies and
choices of display.