Jury AICA Oorkonde 2015 Publicaties

v.l.n.r. Nat Muller, Wieteke van Zeil, Edna van Duyn

v.l.n.r. Nat Muller, Wieteke van Zeil, Edna van Duyn

De jury voor de AICA Oorkonde 2015 in de categorie Publicaties is onlangs samengesteld en bestaat uit de AICA leden Edna van Duyn, Nat Muller en Wieteke van Zeil.

De AICA Oorkonde wordt eind 2015 toegekend aan een in Nederland gemaakte publicatie, die zich in de jaren 2012, 13 en 14 volgens de Nederlandse AICA leden in meest gunstige zin heeft onderscheiden.
De shortlist, samengesteld door de jury, wordt 3 juni 2015 bekend gemaakt tijdens de Algemene ledenvergadering. In de maand daarna kunnen alle AICA leden stemmen op de tentoonstelling van hun voorkeur per e-mail.

De AICA Oorkonde wordt wisselend uitgereikt aan een publicatie, een tentoonstelling en een organisatie/instelling. In 2012 werd de AICA Oorkonde uitgereikt aan YVI Magazine, in 2013 aan De Hallen Haarlem en in 2014 aan Witte de With voor de tentoonstelling ‘The Temptation of AA Bronson’.

Over de juryleden:Edna van Duyn is onafhankelijk criticus en redacteur. Haar belangrijkste interesse ligt in de verwantschap tussen literatuur, filosofie, en hedendaagse beeldende kunst. Van 1984 – 2014 was zij hoofd Publicaties van De Appel arts centre; Nat Muller is onafhankelijk curator en criticus gevestigd in Rotterdam. Haar voornaamste interesses zijn onder meer: het snijpunt tussen esthetiek, media en politiek, mediakunst en hedendaagse kunst in en uit het Midden-Oosten; Wieteke van Zeil is kunsthistoricus, criticus en journalist. Zij schrijft sinds 2003 voor de Volkskrant over oude meesters en moderne mores, en soms over de actualiteit vanuit kunsthistorisch perspectief. In de zaterdagbijlage Sir Edmund belicht ze wekelijks een kunstdetail in de rubriek Oog voor Detail.

Temptation, shamanism, recognition

Niels van Maanen in conversation with AA Bronson


Ritual of queer rituals, 2 November 2014: Welcome by AA Bronson Photographer: Aad Hoogendoorn Courtesy of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art.


Artist, curator, writer, healer, mentor: AA Bronson (Vancouver, 1946) is many things. Together with Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal, he founded the art collective General Idea in 1969. The next twenty-five years the group would blur the lines between high art and popular culture and explore subjects ranging from advertising and consumerism to queer identity and the AIDS pandemic. After the untimely death of Partz and Zontal from AIDS in 1994, Bronson’s work took a more personal turn and became a meditation on loss, trauma and healing. Bronson is a role model to many young artists and often collaborates with them. His exhibition ‘The Temptation of AA Bronson’ at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam won the AICA Award 2014, which is awarded in turn to a Dutch organization, publication and exhibition by the Dutch art press. Niels van Maanen had the opportunity to sit down with Bronson just before the award ceremony.

How did ‘The Temptation of AA Bronson’ come about?

Defne Ayas, the director of Witte de With, approached me to curate an exhibition incorporating the themes of art and spirituality. She was familiar with my work at the Institute for Art, Religion and Social Justice, an organization at Union Theological Seminary in New York. I originally founded the Institute with the idea of creating dialogue between the worlds of contemporary theology and contemporary art. As we all know, there is a huge schism between the worlds of art and Christianity, although the art world has been friendlier to Buddhism. At the institute, I presented symposia, lecture series and exhibitions, including artists like Kara Walker and Marina Abramović.

When Defne contacted me, I told her I don’t think of myself as a curator. I’ve organized many exhibitions, but always by working closely with other artists. For the last few years, I have been showing my own work together with collaborations with younger artists, and also the work of friends. In short, my view is always completely subjective, while a curator is objective. To my surprise, Defne gave me complete freedom.


Chrysanne Stathacos, Evolve Dissolve, 2013 Performance The artist performed during the opening of the exhibition, creating the piece Rose Mandala Mirror (of Three Reflections). Chrysanne Stathacos, Rose Mandala Mirror (of Three Reflections), 2006 Glass, mirror, rose petals Dimensions variable, mirror 122 cm diameter Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Heike Strelow, Frankfurt Photographer: Aad Hoogendoorn Courtesy of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art.


The exhibition at Witte de With spanned two floors and included works and performances by thirty artists from eleven countries. Can you tell me about your intentions?

There were many things I was trying to do! (laughs) When I organized the exhibition, I was thinking about the history of how exhibitions are presented. The white cube has been the norm for a long time now. It is the style in which Witte de With usually works. In the sixties a more immersive style of exhibition disappeared with the late Surrealist exhibitions, which evolved out of the cabinets of curiosities with their unusual and extraordinary objects. I wanted my exhibition to be self-conscious about its own presentation, so I incorporated all three exhibition styles. The lower floor was in the usual white cube presentation, while the upper floor was in a more immersive form, with darkness interrupted by pin spots, and a layer of sage completely covering the floor. Interrupting the scenography on the upper floor was a corridor styled in the manner of a cabinet of curiosities. It included a lot of books and ephemera from my own collection, which hopefully gave hints of influences and references that illuminated the exhibition. That was the first layer.

Secondly, I wanted to explore the idea of community in the exhibition. Because of my experiences during the AIDS period, I’m very aware that my community is both living and dead. This was reflected in the exhibition. There were the dead artists, like David Buchan, Robert Flack, and my partners in General Idea. And there were the living, many of whom are part of a loosely woven international community of queer artists.

Then, thirdly, there’s the idea of sex and spirituality as interwoven realities in our world. When you look at contemporary culture, you find that it’s almost only queer people dealing with this theme. I wanted to explore that phenomenon in the exhibition, which led me into an exploration of queerness. For example, the top floor featured the video projection ‘Dolly Shot’ by the trans artists Mr. and Mrs. Keith Murray. The sound of Dolly Parton’s song ‘I will always Love You’ was kept purposely loud, so that it dominated the entire top floor. And halfway through the exhibition, Carlos Motta and I presented a one-day symposium called ‘ritual of queer rituals’. This combined performance-as-ritual with academic lecture-as-performance and included performers such as Ron Athey and Sands Murray-Wassink together with academics such as the anthropologist Elizabeth Povinelli and the queer theologian Linn Marie Tonstad. Although some media described my exhibition as ‘queer’, I didn’t want to do an exhibition in which the sense of community was defined by sexuality. Marina Abramović probably had the largest installation in the show, but she’s not queer – not in the normal sense of the word anyway.

Finally, there is the title of the exhibition, ‘The Temptation of AA Bronson’, taken from the book by Gustave Flaubert, ‘The Temptation of Saint Anthony’. Flaubert’s book can be thought of as the first postmodern book, as it combines found materials from books of antiquity, books from Flaubert’s own age, as well as references to famous artworks. Flaubert worked on the book his entire life, publishing three versions in total. It was an early example of a Gesamtkunstwerk, in a sense. The book itself is a kind of total indexing of temptations, and includes segments on sex, monsters, pride and so on. The exhibition was loosely structured around this idea.

You lived and worked together for twenty-five years with Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal, your two partners in General Idea. Since the untimely deaths of Felix and Jorge due to AIDS-related causes in 1994, you’ve often collaborated with other artists. What is it that attracts you to the practice of collaboration?

For me, collaboration comes naturally. I don’t really know how not to collaborate. I’ve never done anything else. I dropped out from the School of Architecture at the University of Manitoba to found a commune, a free school and an underground newspaper with a group of eight classmates. That only lasted a year, but it set the foundation, a philosophy and a method of group decision-making that led to General Idea. The idea that art has to be created by an individual is bound up with the market place. It’s the myth of the artist as an individual genius turning out precious objects. You can’t sell collaborations, any art dealer will tell you that. Which is kind of unfortunate in my case! (laughs)


General Idea, Thirty untitled works from a series of Tantric drawings, 1989 – 1992. Each, 35.5 x 28 cm Courtesy of AA Bronson & Esther Schipper, Berlin Photographer: Aad Hoogendoorn Courtesy of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art.


Michael Buhler-Rose, Ryan Brewer, Richard John Jones, Bradford Kessler, Travis Meinolf, Scott Treleaven: you often collaborate with younger artists. I wonder how you see your relationship with younger generations. Do you feel a responsibility?

I find that younger people, especially young gay men, tend to seek me out. They come to me with questions: how to be an artist, how to be a gay artist, how to participate in the larger world without losing your identity? I see it as one of my responsibilities in life to respond to them. My generation was the first generation to come out. We established the gay organisations. We had nobody older to learn from. Many gay people of my generation died in the late eighties and early nineties, so I feel that for those of us who remain, mentoring should be an important part of what we do. We can keep the queer history of the last fifty years alive.

The night before the opening of ‘The Temptation of AA Bronson’, your ‘Invocation of the Queer Spirits’ was enacted privately by a small group of men at Witte de With. Since 2008 you’ve invoked the queer and marginalized histories of at least seven sites. How did these queer seances come into existence?

I did the first one at The Banff Centre in the Canadian Rockies. Banff offers seven-week residencies to artists and in 2008 I was brought in as a visiting artist for a weekend. Among the thirty participants, there was one gay artist: Peter Hobbs. He was going crazy and told me: ‘I can’t cope with all this straight energy around me.’ I said: ‘Let’s dream up something very queer.’ We came up with the idea of an ‘Invocation of the Queer Spirits’, invoking the queer spirits of the mountain to be present for him during the rest of the residency. We held the first invocation in a cabin in the woods and gave Peter some support from the dead, since he didn’t have it from the living.

A whole series of invocations followed. I was living in New York back in 2008 and I was getting fed up with the market place. Artists were under constant pressure to produce saleable work. I wanted to do something that fell completely outside of that. Performances, especially private ones with no documentation and no audience, provided me with that opportunity. Because of my move to Berlin in 2013, I’m now able again to produce objects without feeling that I’m under the thumb of the market place. I have a solo show coming up at Esther Schipper Gallery that will consist of paintings. And they won’t even be collaborations! (laughs)

How did the invocation in Rotterdam unfold?

Since the queer population of Rotterdam seems to have disappeared to Amsterdam, I decided to use the word queer in a more metaphorical way at Witte de With. The main idea behind the performance was to remember different populations of the dead that I feel have been marginalized in Rotterdam. I focused on the history of Rotterdam as a center of slave trade, but also on the history of people who died of AIDS.

Six of us gathered at Witte de With at eleven at night. Witte de With built a big box for us to sit in, and inside it we made a circle of sea shells collected at the North Sea coast. We were naked and shared food and alcoholic drinks. I started by reading the invocation, which I always prepare in advance, and invited the dead into the circle with us. Maybe you can think of it like a Quaker meeting: you sit in silence and when you feel called to say something, you say it. The idea is to only talk about the present moment in the present place. We usually stop when we feel that it’s over.

One of the participants has a background in the Radical Faerie movement, so he was pressing for group processing and self-evaluation. One of the other participants was much more performance-oriented. He didn’t really want to talk: he wanted to do things. So, in the beginning there was already a tension between thinking and doing. It felt like two performances coexisting at the same time. I have to say it was a relatively chaotic session.

How do you make sure you stay in the present moment?

Staying in the present is extremely difficult on a day-to-day basis, but usually not during a performance. Now that I’ve done at least seven invocations, with group sizes ranging from 3 to 7 individuals, I can say that there’s always someone who emerges as a scapegoat. It’s not something I expected to happen, but each time it does. During the last invocation, at this year’s Gwangju Biennial in South Korea, one participant even fell asleep.

The performance in Rotterdam was the first one during which we didn’t use butt plugs. There’s a kind of butt plug that you can leave in for hours and it is comfortable, but I couldn’t find them anywhere in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The thing about the butt plug is that it makes you present to your body: you’re in this body, in this moment, with these other people, who are in the same situation. I always decorate the butt plugs with rooster feathers, so that they look like rooster tails. It’s hilarious and sexy simultaneously.

I will tell you the truth: I found being in a museum context also made it more difficult to stay present. A museum is just not the same as an abandoned building or a forest, where I usually organize the performances. I thought the big box we sat in would make us feel separate from the museum, but the presence of the museum was very strong. The performance was not bad, but there wasn’t that kind of crazy freedom that there can be.


Carlos Motta, We Who Feel Differently: A Manifesto, 2012 Pad of posters, to rip off and take away Posters, 50.8 x 40.6 cm, vinyl, wall text, dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist Photographer: Aad Hoogendoorn Courtesy of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art.


Have you ever thought of making your invocations more inclusive, to leave categories of gender and sexual orientation behind?

The performance was originally invented as a way of escaping a situation dominated by ‘straight energy’, a residency otherwise composed of straight men and women involved in quite orthodox if conceptual art-making. A similar performance could be constructed that is open to all genders and all sexual orientations, but of course it would be different. The performances have included straight men and one person who identified as gender-fluid, but primarily it included queer men in the eighties sense of the word: men who see themselves as opposed to the beliefs and tactics of mainstream gay liberation.

I’ve always interpreted the invocations as a conscious choice to break away from heteronormative and homophobic society and establish an alternate, queer reality instead.

Yes, it’s a reality that is not rooted in the mainstream world. Gay liberation is about becoming part of society. The invocations are about creating a unique space outside of that society. Not all homosexuals are queer. Queer is the outsider.

The term queer has now been used in so many different ways, that it almost can’t be used at all anymore. In the last five years the term queer has also come to be associated with sexual fluidity in academic circles. I worry that when we use the term queer in that way we lose the ability to differentiate queer culture form gay liberation culture. I’m uncomfortable with that.

For at least two decades you have worked as a healer. Can you tell me more about this? Do you think of it as separate from your artistic practice?

I have been interested in ideas about healing most of my life. I had some training in Gestalt and group therapy in the sixties, and I have read enormously about everything from herbal medicine to palm reading! I took my first healing courses around 1990, but I didn’t start a professional practice until the end of the nineties. The treatments I give are massage-based, so it’s very physical, intuitive work. In fact, it’s a strangely sculptural activity. By placing my hands on someone’s body, I’m getting information about them. I become a kind of go-between, creating a conversation between the client and their body. When I started giving massages I thought of it as something completely different from my activity as an artist, but I quickly realized in many ways it was much the same.

So, I began to combine the two, although not very successfully, to be frank. In 2003 I did an exhibition where people could book a healing session with me at Galerie Frederic Giroux in Paris. The gallery had works in the form of advertising for my services. After people had a session with me they got a print. Unfortunately, the people who wanted a print didn’t want to have a session, and vice versa. So, that didn’t work. For a later exhibition, in 2004, at John Connelly Presents in New York, I created a spa in the gallery. The idea was that someone could book a healing session before the gallery opened or after it closed. But I threw my back out before the show, so I didn’t give any treatments. Instead, I was at home in bed.

I also did a project about healing For The New School in New York in 2005. I made a poster that advertised that the first ten people who came to me would get a free healing session, on the condition that I could photograph them before and after. Then I gave a public conversation with Gregg Bordowitz on the subject of art and healing, to which those ten clients were invited (Gregg was one of them). That show was a success: there was a big turn out. The amazing thing about the photos I took was that my ‘clients’ looked absolutely the same before and after! On the surface you couldn’t see anything at all. Sometimes their hair was a bit messy. (laughs)

Each healing session is completely different. People respond in totally different ways. Sometimes a massage leads to analytical thinking; sometimes it’s almost like an exorcism. There are also times when I simply can’t tell if something happened or not. But then often I’ll hear the next week, or years later, that I made a change in someone’s life. I have a very high success rate I’d say.


Elijah Burgher, Enclosure for prospective ritual action, 2013 Acrylic on canvas drop cloths, overall 353 x 407 x 407 cm Courtesy of the artist & Western Exhibitions, Chicago Photographer: Aad Hoogendoorn Courtesy of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art.


In 2008 you were made an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 2011 you were named a Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. You’ve received many awards during your career – right now you’re in Rotterdam to collect the AICA Award 2014 – and you hold two honorary doctorates. What does all this institutional recognition mean to you?

It is very easy to take awards too seriously and to get full of yourself. I think people get caught up in their ‘accomplishments’ and that cuts them of from reality and life. I try to make myself ‘accessible’ and I think that is relatively unusual for artists of my generation.

Receiving appointment into the Order of Canada was a wonderfully strange experience. It seems like a very formal, silly type of thing, but it gave me a moment to reflect on what it means to be Canadian. That somehow became much more important than having my accomplishments acknowledged. There’s a very bizarre, emotional thing about being Canadian. Maybe it’s the same in every country. (laughs)

Being awarded in France was a very different experience. It came out of nowhere and I wasn’t expecting it at all. There was a ceremony at the residence of the Canadian ambassador in Paris. It is an extraordinary house with enormous chandeliers and acres of gold leaf: I had never been in such an impressive house before. Receiving the insignia meant a lot to me, because my two partners Felix and Jorge were also being acknowledged. The honour was for the three of us. I wish Felix and Jorge could have been there.

So, my relationship to institutions is complex. On the one hand, I am a university dropout who has spent most of his life focussing on work that falls outside of the institutional framework. On the other hand, I have invented institutions, such as the Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice, and I am also appropriated by institutions occasionally: I have taught at UCLA, the University of Toronto, and the Yale School of Art. I am comfortable with whatever it takes to be active, present and engaged in the world, while doing my best to leave behind the expectations that others put upon us, and become increasingly myself, whatever that might mean. (laughs)

Laudatio AICA Oorkonde 2014

Onderstaande laudatio werd uitgesproken door Laurie Cluitmans tijdens de uitreiking van de AICA Oorkonde 2014 aan Witte de With en AA Bronson op 9 december j.l.

Laurie AICA

Laurie Cluitmans


Dear AICA members,

Dear Defne Ayas,

Dear Sarah van der Tholen,

Dear AA Bronson,

Dear Marina Abramović,

Dear Nils Bech,

Dear Ryan Brewer,

Dear David W. Buchan,

Dear Michael Buhler-Rose,

Dear Elijah Burgher,

Dear Oisin Byrne,

Dear Nicolaus Chaffin,

Dear TM Davy,

Dear Michael Dudeck,

Dear Robert Flack,

Dear General Idea,

Dear Matthias Herrmann,

Dear Reima Hirvonen,

Dear Derek Jarman,

Dear K8 Hardy,

Dear Mike Kelley,

Dear Bradford Kessler,

Dear Terence Koh,

Dear Sebastien Lambeaux,

Dear Gareth Long,

Dear Carlos Motta,

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Keith Murray,

Dear Sands Murray-Wassink,

Dear Tom de Pekin,

Dear Chrysanne Stathacos,

Dear Scott Treleaven,

Dear Jeffrey Vallance,

Dear Louwrien Wijers,

Dear All,


We are gathered here today in honour of the exhibition ‘The temptation of AA Bronson’ that took place from the 5th of September 2013 to the 5th of January 2014, here at Witte de With. Although the title directly referred to AA Bronson, the long list of artists from this introduction, makes it clear this was not “just” a solo exhibition, but also not “just” a collaborative effort. Somehow, in this exhibition, there seemed to be a different sense of commitment between all the artists involved, based on a deeply and mutually felt empathy.

Within the context of this laudation and gathering today, organized by AICA – which is of course the association for art criticism in the Netherlands – it seems only fitting to have this award ceremony accompanied by some local art critical thoughts. Simultaneously with this laudation, an art critical debate is taking place in Amsterdam. With its evocative title It’s very political: engagement in the arts, the debate hints towards a discussion that is most likely as old as our modern notion of art: the assumption that arts and culture have withdrawn from society and now no longer have any influence. The central character of the debate claims not only that art no longer has any influence on society, but also that art no longer surprises, that engaged art has become an exercise of leftwing political thinking and most of all that ‘the world won’t listen’. Somewhat ironically, it brings to mind the legendary album of The Smiths ‘The world won’t listen’, or the, in my mind equally legendary, eponymous film by Phil Collins. Needless to say, these claims sparked, or ‘re-sparked’, a debate in Dutch newspapers, and are now brought to the stage by the Akademie van Kunsten. Considering that most of these initial written words of wisdom on the topic came from respected men, middle aged, with the right Dutch accent, (who by the way didn’t write about this exhibition), I feel a need to respond.


To engage is something heartfelt, urgent, not just now, but also in parallel temporalities, and it is a desire that modestly returned in the many discussions between this year’s AICA jury, consisting of Jhim Lamoree, Nanda Jansen and myself. One thing that became clear from those discussions is that we were all somehow grounded in different little pockets of the world, with different voices and different engagements. These discussions led to a selection of exhibitions that nonetheless shared our preoccupations: exhibitions that not only address, but also somehow artistically sublimate the controversies of the time we live in, the society we are part of:


  • The strong, politically subversive and provocative exhibition ‘Fear at the core of Things’ by Christoph Schlingensief in BAK, Utrecht;
  • The visual and conceptual entanglements between a political system and art, its hopes and disillusions, in the exhibition ‘Lissitzky – Kabakov, Utopia and Reality’ in the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven;
  • The interweaving of historic and contemporary craftsmanship with notions of labour in ‘Hand Made’ at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam;
  • The life of artworks, its meaning caught between past and future, in the collection presentation ‘Once upon a time…The collection now’, also in the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven.
  • And, of course: ‘The temptation of AA Bronson’, here at Witte de With, Rotterdam.


I first met AA during an evening at the art space Rongwrong in Amsterdam, after he had just given a lecture at the Studium Generale at the Rietveld Art Academy. During the lecture that afternoon, AA discussed 45 years in 45 minutes; he talked about his love for books and magazines, the usage of low cost materials and viral projects, the early days of General Idea and his partners for 25 years Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal. He spoke of the self-portraits of General Idea, moving from slightly ironic puns and poodles, to the harsh reality of a crisis that politicians refused to acknowledge or recognize. And then, the question that silenced the audience: How to be an artist after a sharing of 25 years of both art and everyday life, had so abruptly ended? AA ended his lecture with how he became a healer and how his healing practice became part of his art. Something we somehow inexplicably thought to sense that night at Rongwrong.

The friendships, community, collectivity and human caring AA spoke of, with such intimate tone of voice, resurfaced when I visited the exhibition ‘The Temptation of AA Bronson’ in Witte de With. Feeling both stimulated and deeply moved, I was somehow caught off guard by some of its oversights and confused when trying to pin point these affects back to the exhibition, as art critics tend to do. This was clearly no average solo show nor an average retrospective. Was AA present as artist, as curator, as subject, as catalyst?

He invited all the aforementioned artists, younger and older friends, and some friends that are sadly no longer with us today. It somehow felt so natural to see artists like Louwrien Wijers and Sands Murray Wassink here in this context. Before this exhibition, they had talked often about AA and how his presence as an artist and human being had been so very important to them. Somehow, this exhibition banned the terminology of the artist as curator or notions of collaboration. All artists where present with their own identity and voice, yet spoke and speak to each other and the visitor on a deeper level.

Actually, AA’s presence in Witte de With started on the 14th of March 2012 at the time of the waning half moon. He performed a ritual blessing, with no audience at a secret location, to inaugurate Defne’s new program here. Although the exhibition ‘The temptation of AA Bronson’ is no longer here, it feels as though it has shaped the walls of Witte de With. I can still almost smell it; I can still almost see it; the impressive collection of queer zines from Punk times to now; the clinical beds of Marina Abramovic inviting us for a sense of concentration and isolation; the tantric and evocative drawings of General Idea; the beautiful collection of perfumes of Sands Murray Wassink; the mandala of rose petals, carefully laid out by Chrysanne Stathacos; the daunting performance of a man, his body painted, tied to a dog leash; the two large white boxes offering a hint of an unknown ritual that seemed to had taken place just before.

On the top floor an abrupt change in atmosphere: the strong scent of sage suffusing the body immediately and unremittingly; classic vitrines displaying The Ancestors: AA’s personal archive of books and curiosa; in the background Dolly Parton singing ‘I will always love you’ in a video work by Mr and Mrs Keith Murray; the black walls covered with texts from Gustave Flaubert’s The Temptation of Saint Anthony; and then: the strange realization of the mirroring of life and death, literally in the darkened exhibition space.

The body, spirit, sex, religion, death, rituals and magic, collaborations and collectivity, all brought together in magic seals, crystals, mirrors, nudes and bodily juices. Objects merged with environments, archives and performative presences that could still be felt without the activating body. Together they invoked perceptions, experiences and recollections as auditory, tactile, aromatic and somatic as they are visual. Speaking to both the mind and body of the visitor, directly through the senses. Its meanings diffused, they resisted capturing, and as Deborah Cherry once wrote: ‘any certainty that the sensory affect will have a further effect’. The exhibition somehow touched on different memories too, that did not necessarily have to be personal. It brings to mind other social and historical relations. The artworks of many young upcoming artists and the works of artists that are no longer with us, together brought to life those social and historical memories, and clearly showed how they still exist in the present. Somehow it felt, as if the exhibition itself had exercised some kind of healing session over its visitors and both mourned and redeemed the alternative bodies of history.

‘The Temptation of AA Bronson’ brought a feeling of generosity towards all the participating artists and artworks, woven together by temptations, as the title suggests. Gustave Flaubert based his work La Tentation de Saint Antoine on the story of the third-century saint who lived on an isolated mountaintop in the Egyptian desert. It reads as a night during which Anthony is besieged by carnal temptations and philosophical doubt. Somehow the work shows, by its very eccentricity, not to say absurdity, the way writing for Flaubert was, for all its obvious external concerns, it was a profoundly personal matter and struggle for perfection. A struggle perhaps reflected in the fact that he wrote three different versions, the last of which he published in 1874.

‘The temptation of AA Bronson’ opened up new ways of thinking about modern subjectivity. As an exhibition created by a very particular subjectivity it made personal histories, gestures, fears, energies, desires and of course temptations collapse. Exactly because of this subjectivity, it demands a different way of relating to it, it demands from us art critics, a different vocabulary that goes beyond the standard notions of retrospective and collaborative practice, beyond the sensory impulse and immersive environments. Beyond one subjectivity. Beyond one world. And so it is with this that I would like to end this laudation: We are listening, and we do care. Congratulations AA Bronson and Witte de With.

AICA oorkonde 2014 uitgereikt aan Witte de With en AA Bronson

Robert-Jan Muller, voorzitter AICA Nederland, Defne Ayas, directeur Witte de With, kunstenaar AA Bronson, Laurie Cluitmans, jurylid

In een feestelijke sfeer werd dinsdagavond in Rotterdam de AICA Oorkonde 2014 uitgereikt aan Defne Ayas, directeur van Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art en de kunstenaar AA Bronson door AICA voorzitter Robert-Jan Muller. De jaarlijkse Oorkonde werd door de AICA Nederland leden toegekend aan Witte de With als bekroning van de tentoonstelling ‘The Temptation of AA Bronson’. De toekenning was de uitkomst van een serie van vijf nominaties, vastgesteld door de jury bestaande uit Laurie Cluitmans, Nanda Janssen en Jhim Lamoree. Cluitmans sprak de lofrede uit, die later op deze website te lezen is. Naar aanleiding van de toekenning voerde kunstcriticus Niels van Maanen een interview met AA Bronson. Zijn artikel naar aanleiding van dat gesprek wordt eveneens binnenkort hier opgenomen.

AA Bronson met de AICA Oorkonde 2014

AA Bronson met de AICA Oorkonde 2014. Foto: Aad Hoogendoorn


Het bestuur van AICA Nederland nodigt u van harte uit voor de uitreiking van de AICA Oorkonde 2014 aan Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in aanwezigheid van AA Bronson op dinsdag 9 december 2014. De officiele uitreiking vindt plaats in Witte de With, Rotterdam.

Chrysanne Stathacos, The Rose Mandala Mirror (of Three Reflections)

Chrysanne Stathacos, The Rose Mandala Mirror (of Three Reflections)

AICA Nederland kent de AICA oorkonde 2014 toe aan de tentoonstelling ‘The Temptation of AA Bronson’ die van september 2013 tot januari 2014 te zien was bij Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art.


16.30 – 17.00
Inloop en ontvangst

17.00 – 18.00
Welkom door Defne Ayas, directeur Witte de With
Welkom namens AICA door Robert-Jan Muller, voorzitter AICA Nederland en voorlezing van het juryrapport
Laudatio door Laurie Cluitmans, jurylid AICA Oorkonde 2014
Uitreiking AICA Oorkonde 2014
Dankwoord Witte de With en AA Bronson

18.00 – 19.00
Aansluitende borrel. Er is tevens gelegenheid tot het bezoeken van de tentoonstelling ‘Dai Hanzhi: 5000 Artists’.

Adres Witte de With: Witte de Withstraat 50 3012 BR Rotterdam

U wordt verzocht uw komst per e-mail te bevestigen: reservations@wdw.nl

Genomineerden Prijs voor de Jonge Kunstkritiek 2014 bekend


De genomineerden van de Prijs voor de Jonge Kunstkritiek 2014 zijn bekend gemaakt. Op donderdag 11 december worden de winnaars van de categorieen Essay (prijs: Euro 2.500 persoonlijke mentor) en Recensie (prijs: Euro 2.500 persoonlijke mentor) gepresenteerd in het Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Voor deze vierde editie ontving de organisatie 28 inzendingen in de categorie Essay, 25 inzendingen in de categorie Recensie en 5 inzendingen in de categorie Visuele Kritiek. De jury nomineert in totaal 6 auteurs:


Laure van den Hout, 1986

Sarah Kesenne, 1980

Fabienne Rachmadiev, 1985


Laurens Otto, 1988

Richtje Reinsma, 1979

Sam de Wilde, 1982

Omdat de kwaliteit van de inzendingen in de nieuwe categorie Visuele Kritiek niet aansloot bij de ambities van de jury is besloten geen prijs uit te reiken in deze categorie. De Visuele Kritiek werd in het leven geroepen in het kader van vernieuwing en verrijking van de klassieke vormen van kunstkritiek. Uiteraard willen we dit initiatief wel verder stimuleren en blijven we investeren in deze nieuwe vorm. Vandaar dat een deel van de prijsuitreiking in het teken zal staan van de Visuele Kritiek.

Tijdens de feestelijke prijsuitreiking op donderdag 11 december a.s. in het Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam worden de winnaars bekendgemaakt. De uitreiking begint om 17.00 uur en vindt plaats in het Teijin Auditorium.
Reserveren is verplicht: stuur een e-mail met uw volledige naam, e-mailadres en telefoonnummer naar reservations@stedelijk.nl onder vermelding van ‘Uitreiking Prijs voor de Jonge Kunstkritiek 11 december 2014′.
Toegangsprijs: Euro 2.50 plus geldig toegangsbewijs voor het museum.

De Prijs voor de Jonge Kunstkritiek 2014 is een initiatief van Het Mondriaan Fonds, het Stedelijk Museum, de Appel arts centre, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, STUK Kunstencentrum en Vlaams-Nederlands Huis deBuren. De tweejaarlijkse prijs staat open voor jong talent tot 35 jaar en wil hen de mogelijkheid bieden zich verder te ontwikkelen en ze een extra duwtje geven in de richting van een professionele carriere.

Voor meer informatie kunt u mailen naar info@jongekunstkritiek.net


AICA Oorkonde 2014 voor ‘The Temptation of AA Bronson’ in Witte de With

Chrysanne Stathacos, The Rose Mandala Mirror (of Three Reflections)

Chrysanne Stathacos, The Rose Mandala Mirror (of Three Reflections), in de tentoonstelling ‘The Tempation of AA Bronson’










AICA Nederland (Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art) kent de AICA Oorkonde 2014 toe aan ‘The Temptation of AA Bronson’, een tentoonstelling in Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, die te zien was van 5 september 2013 tot 5 januari 2014.

Uit het juryrapport: ‘De kunstenaar AA Bronson (1946) trad in deze opengebroken solotentoonstelling niet zozeer op als curator, maar als een samenbrengende kracht die samenwerkingsprojecten en individuele kunstwerken van een jongere generatie kunstenaars en vrienden met elkaar verweefde. Zowel qua vorm als qua thema’s is ‘The Temptation of AA Bronson’ een hybride project, waarin dood, lichaam, geest, seks, rituelen en magie op een allesomvattende manier samenkomen in een tentoonstelling vol pijn en hoop. Bronson leek een eerbetoon te maken aan zijn overleden partners van General Idea en haast een publieke helende sessie te leveren. AA Bronson geeft een tegelijkertijd kritische, intense en speelse blik op wat kunst kan betekenen om de moderne menselijke conditie te doorgronden en misschien zelfs iets draaglijker te maken.’

Defne Ayas, directeur van Witte de With, zegt in een reactie op de toekenning: ‘We zijn trots en vereerd door deze erkenning en willen AICA Nederland graag bedanken. Deze tentoonstelling van AA Bronson verkende ritualisme, religie, alternatief drukwerk en queer mystiek. Zowel onze vakgenoten als het publiek reageerden bijzonder positief. We hebben Bronson leren kennen als een buitengewoon tentoonstellingsmaker en bovendien bood hij ons een complex tegengif voor de melancholie die heerst in geseculariseerde kunstinstellingen.’

De AICA Oorkonde wordt jaarlijks toegekend aan afwisselend een Nederlandse instelling, publicatie of (dit jaar) een tentoonstelling. De huidige toekenning betreft tentoonstellingen in de jaren 2011, 2012 en 2013.

De shortlist-jury bestond dit jaar uit de AICA-leden Laurie Cluitmans, Nanda Janssen en Jhim Lamoree. De stemming werd gehouden onder de 185 leden van AICA Nederland, waaronder kunstcritici, museumconservatoren en museumdirecteuren.

De vier andere genomineerde tentoonstellingen waren Christoph Schlingensief: ‘Fear at the Core of Things’, BAK, Utrecht; ‘Lissitzky-Kabakov, Utopie en werkelijkheid’, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; ‘Hand Made, lang leve het ambacht’, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; ‘Er was eens… De Collectie nu’, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. De uitreiking van de AICA Oorkonde 2014 vindt komende november plaats.


Flinterdunne observaties in het Rijksmuseum

IMG_6069 Het Rijksmuseum spreekt deze zomer zijn bezoekers aan via de teksten van filosoof Alain de Botton. Maar, vraagt Edna van Duyn zich af, spreken de kunstwerken al niet hun eigen waarheid?

door Edna van Duyn

Een klassiek werk in neon uit 1967 met de spiralende zin THE TRUE ARTIST HELPS THE WORLD BY REVEALING MYSTIC TRUTHS: Bruce Nauman suggereert hier, zo heb ik het altijd begrepen, met ironie, dat deze mystieke waarheden niet meer zijn dan het subtiele verschil tussen betekenis en illusie. Hijzelf als ‘echte’ kunstenaar is aan het woord, de vorm valt samen met wat er beweerd wordt. 2014: neonletters aan de gevel van het Rijksmuseum, ART IS THERAPY. Wie spreekt hier? De museumdirecteur, de gastcurator en de ontwerper geven het Rijks een opvallend nieuw label. Art as Therapy (het boek van de populaire filosoof Alain de Botton (1969) en kunsthistoricus John Armstrong (1966) waarin directeur Wim Pijbes zich kennelijk kon vinden) beschrijft een nieuwe functie van een museum: de spirituele tegenhanger van de sportschool waar je aan je innerlijk werkt. In de entree, de hal en bij kunstwerken zijn post-its aangebracht met teksten over ons mensen in samenzweerderige wij-formuleringen. Niet een kunstenaar is aan het woord. Het gaat hier om de interventies van Alain de Botton. Zijn ‘mystieke waarheden’ hebben betrekking op rubrieken als geheugen, geluk, geld, politiek, seks die in geselecteerde kunstwerken aanschouwelijk gemaakt zouden worden. Zij krijgen een extra perspectief en zijn zogenaamd losjes ernaast geplakt, maar te negeren zijn ze niet, vrijblijvendheid: ho maar. Kan je kiezen uit een saai tekstbordje en de post-it? In theorie wel. Een voorbeeld voor wie het niet heeft gezien, bij De Nachtwacht: ‘Je staat in een menigte en je kijkt naar een schilderij van een menigte. Maar er is een verschil. Jouw menigte is anoniem en er kan niets goeds uit voortkomen. Het liefst zou je hier alleen zijn. Terwijl het kameraadschap op het schilderij licht brengt op een donkere regenachtige dag.’ De Botton, van wie afgelopen voorjaar in Amsterdam een filiaal van ‘The School of Life’ opende waar mensen met levensvragen kunnen aankloppen, scheert in zijn interventies alle -lezende- bezoekers (en dat zijn er heel veel, maar kennelijk nog niet genoeg?) over een kam met jammer genoeg flinterdunne inzichten en triviale veronderstellingen. Om te kunnen openstaan voor de wellicht intrinsiek helende, want onthullende, verbeeldende werking van het kunstwerk zelf (dat gelukkig maar al te vaak raakt aan andere gevoeligheden) dient eerst het pedante, beledigende toontje van de geeltjes afgeschud te worden. Critici Adrian Searle van The Guardian en Wieteke van Zeil van de Volkskrant hebben dit project uitputtend gefileerd. Of wordt een bezoek aan het museum hierdoor verrijkt, zoals De Correspondent schreef? Zijn er onder u die deze aanpak toejuichen? Zou een goede editor/curator uitkomst hebben geboden? Was een audiotour niet voldoende en minder storend aanwezig geweest? Of zou de hulp niet van een ‘buitenstaander’ moeten komen, maar van de ‘mystieke waarheid’ van het kunstwerk zelf? Rijksmuseum Amsterdam 25 april-7 september 2014 Art Is Therapy Catalogus: Alain de Botton & John Armstrong; 69 besproken kunstwerken, paperback, gecombineerde editie Nederlands, Engels. Vormgeving Irma Boom http://www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/3360/musea-en-galerieen/article/detail/3646456/2014/05/02/Alain-de-Botton-in-het-Rijksmuseum-Een-drievoudige-belediging.dhtml http://pfauth.com/kunst/ga-vooral-zelf-kijken-naar-alain-de-bottons-post-het-rijksmuseum/ http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/apr/25/art-is-therapy-alain-de-botton-rijksmuseum-amsterdam-review

Waarom Manifesta blijft volgens Hedwig Fijen

De vliegtuigcrash in Oekraine was de druppel, betoogde Rutger Pontzen in de Volkskrant: Manifesta 10 moet zijn biezen pakken en Rusland verlaten. Hedwig Fijen, directeur van de biennale, schrijft nu waarom ze er juist blijft.

Kristina Norman, Manifesta 10.

Kristina Norman, Manifesta 10.

Klik op de onderstaande link om het artikel te lezen

Beste Rutger Pontzen door Hedwig Fijen V de VK 29.07.2014

Dient Manifesta zich nu wel terug te trekken?

‘Als het oorlog wordt, dan trekt Manifesta zich terug uit Rusland’, zei Manifesta directeur Hedwig Fijen tijdens het openbare AICA debat in Amsterdam op 24 april jl. over het plaatsvinden van de tentoonstelling in St.Petersburg.


Francis Alys, Lada Kopeika Project (2014) Commissioned by Manifesta 10, St. Petersburg with the support of the Flemish authorities.

Nu is er een vliegtuig van Malaysia Airlines neergehaald en zijn er 298 mensen omgekomen, waaronder 194 Nederlanders. ‘Mogelijk een oorlogsmisdaad’, zei Navi Pillay, de Hoge Commissaris voor de Mensenrechten van de Verenigde Naties, maandag in Geneve. Een daad van agressie door Rusland en Poetin met Nederlandse slachtoffers? Het is nog steeds niet zeker, maar, zoals Rutger Pontzen afgelopen vrijdag in de Volkskrant schrijft in zijn Open brief aan Hedwig Fijen, ‘wie ook precies de trekker heeft overgehaald om het dodelijke projectiel af te vuren, zonder de Oost-Oekrainepolitiek van Poetin had het Maleisische vliegtuig gewoon zijn bestemming gehaald’.

Duidelijk is ieder geval dat Poetin zijn pro-Russische medestanders er niet toe heeft bewogen om de crash-site, al was het maar uit compassie met de slachtoffers en hun nabestaanden, tot een veilige omgeving voor onderzoeksteams te maken.
Fijen heeft haar gastheren Poetin en Hermitage directeur Piotrovski, die zegt de politiek van zijn president te ondersteunen, geen woord van kritiek laten horen.
In november afgelopen jaar verzocht AICA Nederland Manifesta per brief om de locatie St.Petersburg te heroverwegen in het licht van de recent ingestelde ‘anti-homo’ wetgeving. Inmiddels gaat het om een zaak van 298 doden.

AICA wil nu haar leden direct aan het woord laten naar aanleiding van de brief van Rutger Pontzen, waarin hij Hedwig Fijen oproept Manifesta te stoppen. Is de tijd van ‘vrijblijvend gediscussieer’ voorbij, zoals Pontzen stelt? Heeft de kunstkritiek met zijn welwillende recensies van Manifesta hier een steek laten vallen? En wat te zeggen van de deelnemende kunstenaars van wie we ook nog geen geluid hebben gehoord?
Lees het stuk van Pontzen hieronder en geef uw reactie!

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