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Autonomy Project Symposium October 7-9 2011

August 7th, 2011 by Clare Butcher



The Autonomy Project Symposium addresses the position of art in society today. The notion of autonomy, once designed to specify art’s place within society, has become a means of occluding its public relevance. This has become very clear when recently Dutch neoliberals and populists proposed large cuts on culture, arguing that art is primarily a private affair and has no real public function. The inability of the Dutch art world to mount an effective counter campaign has thereby made explicit the fact that the confusion   concerning the public nature of an autonomous art comes not only from without but also from within.

The symposium wishes to address the current situation through the work of the French philosopher Jacques Rancière. He has been committed to describing the function of art’s autonomy within public life today. Through a mixture of lectures and workshops the symposium explores Rancière’s valuable contribution both from theoretical and practical perspectives.

Dates: 7-9 October, 2011

Location: Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven

Participating in the symposium costs €45 for 3 days or €15 per day (including lunch). Students are charged €25 for the whole weekend or €10 per day.

The symposium is in English



Exhibition by Increments – and Egypt’s revolution

February 17th, 2011 by Clare Butcher
Propaganda by Monuments exhibition poster

Propaganda by Monuments exhibition poster

After last Friday’s incredible events in Egypt – this journal-style account of my experiences trying to install an exhibition in the midst of such a radical movement may come a bit late. But I think that reflections once the dust settles must find their place amongst the debris. See the link to a South African online art journal where it is published:

Some musings from a curator accidentally caught in the revolution

Democracy sucks

January 1st, 2011 by Clare Butcher

The following is a piece about to be published in a South African online art journal, Artthrob ( but I thought I’d post it here for your feedback.

Democracy sucks: a review of Manifesta 8: the Region of Murcia (Spain) in Dialogue with northern Africa


“Democracy” has a long and complex conceptual lineage. Within western thinking it has been divvied up into a range of topoi – including the majoritarian, the partnership, and Chantal Mouffe’s recent conception of ‘agonistic’ democracy. Each of these versions relies on various constructs of individual versus general will. Majoritarian democracy is, according to Ronald Dworkin, the instatement of a particular law, person or process, based on the representative will of the greatest number of people – which by no means ensures that everyone is, in fact, represented. In partnership democracy (as the curatorial collective responsible for a part of the Manifesta 8,, would have us understand), ‘people govern themselves as full partners in a collective political enterprise’ where decisions can only be reached under certain preconditions, ensuring the equal interest for all involved. The recently opened Manifesta 8 in Murcia and Cartagena, Spain attempted an enactment of these very tensions between general and individual will, set within the framework of the site-specific, cultural machine of the biennial model. (more…)

Commitment issues

October 9th, 2010 by Clare Butcher

*the usual sneak-peek intro from the upcoming Your-space newspaper edition #4 and what will be happening in Your-space in the last months of this year. As always, open to comments and feedback. The questions raised issue from a valuably, ongoing conversation between myself and Steven. We’d gladly invite more contributors to this.


“The beauty of commitment” Nice title huh? Sounds compelling. It was in fact the theme of a discussion panel at the Liverpool Biennial which opened just some weeks ago. The panel consisted of a number of artists whose work takes place mostly in the “public domain”, as well as the biennial curator, Lorenzo Fusi. While I was not aware that it was possible for art to take place outside of at least some shape or form of public domain, there ensued a heated discussion about the way that art “should” be mediated when it occurs beyond the white walls of formal art spaces and the responsibility of the artist in all of that. Why only the artist? I asked. What about the myriad others within the network of artistic production, framing and circulation – that is to say, the arts educators, writers, cultural policy makers, politicians, not least curators? Is it an artist’s job to stand in front of their work and justify their decisions? Prove their commitment to their choices? The curator on the panel was suspiciously quiet during the entire debate. It made me wonder, whether it’s making an “artwork”, installing an exhibition or writing a press release, when do we commit, how do we show that sincerity and who is this “public” making up the public domain? There are as many different answers to this as there are art practitioners and some of those you will find in the projects presented in this edition of the Your-space newsletter. (more…)

Minneapolis Utopia

July 30th, 2010 by Clare Butcher
Walker Open Field

Walker Open Field


I’m in Minneapolis right now and have been anxiously anticipating my first encounter with the the Walker Art Centre. Having followed their programme, blogging, Herzog & de Meuron’s architectural feats – it was time for the personal experience. For the whole summer this summer, their public programming has taken a major risk, calling it an experiment in public space, and basically “loaned” their gigantic backyard space to museum users to do with what they will – creatively. The Walker Open Field project creates a kind of “common” where anyone from violin students to yoga instructors to anarchist reading groups can meet and share knowledge and time. I thought – nice idea in theory, but would it really work in practice? And it seems to. With very little control from the top. A simple kiosk at the front entrance tells you the daily programme (which you can also find detailed online) and you can also pick up some reading material, board games or an iPad from inside the museum. One local chef has also set up a grill bar serving veggie burgers and sauerkraut with local beers. Idyllic.

Well, maybe not. One group who are participating in the Open Field is a collective called, Red76 who are known for setting up Anywhere/Anyplace/Academies (AAA) using surplus building, shipping, storage materials. And this idea of recycling also applies to ideas – their discursive programme is entitled ‘Surplus Seminars’ where they revise old ideas in new ways, giving an ephemeral, do-it-yourself (truly American!) context.


Review ‘Double Infinity’ (Van Abbemuseum and Arthub Asia) at the Dutch Culture Centre Shanghai

May 6th, 2010 by Clare Butcher

Originally published in ‘City Weekend’, Shanghai, Art Affairs section by HUNTER BRAITHWAITE 6/5/2010

“Double Infinity” engages the Expo’s utopia complex with a solid lineup of artists, performances and lectures.

Shanghai-based art collective Arthub reinterprets pieces from the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, a modern art museum renowned for its collection of El Lissitzky, the Russian designer, architect and photographer. This show poses questions about whether the meaning of work changes once it enters transnational space. (more…)

Demo and Cammo

April 17th, 2010 by Clare Butcher


My text is a working draft for the upcoming Your-space newspaper – I apologise for self-plagarism here but felt the content was an appropriate update for Kitchen readers!


A lot seems to have happened between the last issue of the Your-space newspaper and this one. With the launch of Your-space’s Free Vrij Film programme with the Van Abbemuseum; a ‘Demonstration Aesthetics’ workshop and installation by the Swedish artist, Erik Krikortz with invited participants from Eindhoven, Breda and Tilburg; and volcanic irruptions in Iceland shutting down travel in and out of Europe – there’s a lot to take stock of.

While these events don’t seem to have much in common, in fact, they couldn’t be more alike. Each, in its way, stages a disruption in the regular rhythm of everyday life which we so easily become complacently complicit with. Let me explain what I mean by way of an example, an example that finds me writing this editorial note on a very long train ride from Bratislava to Eindhoven. The fact that all flights between the two locations have been cancelled is perhaps of secondary importance. But trains are good. They give you time to think and look out the window. Also to look at your neighbour. Who may or may not be a young German man in military gear on weekend sabbatical from his national service. (more…)

Kitchen politics

April 4th, 2010 by Clare Butcher

If anyone thought that the name, The Kitchen, was merely a happy coincidence – the politics of food is something, though I’m almost loathed to admit, with which Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution USA seems to have hit a nerve.Please see the food flash mob

Here come the micro bloggers

February 18th, 2010 by Clare Butcher

By Clare Butcher

The museum blog of the 21st century? For anyone wondering:

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send “updates” (or “tweets”; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter web site, via the Twitter web site, short message service (SMS), instant messaging, or a third-party application such as Twitterrific or Facebook.

Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them.

- Source Wikipedia

Taking responsibility for being open

January 25th, 2010 by Clare Butcher

By Clare Butcher

“Taking responsibility for being open” – these were the key words of Angela Plohman’s workshop held at the museum on 20 January, as part of the Transparency series we’re putting together. It was the very term “Transparency” that Angela first ploughed into (no pun intended) regarding the dangerous duality of being open while also generating a set of ethics for oneself in how and when and why information is communicated and feedback is invited. (more…)

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