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A little more retro

January 18th, 2010 by Clare Butcher

By Clare Butcher

Below is an introduction for an upcoming show I’m working on at the Aarhus Art Building in Denmark, The Good Old Days. It showcases the work of four artists from my own generation and while that’s perhaps not the most original way to build a show, for me, it’s revealed some urgent matters for contemporary practice, which seeks a relevant political action based on situated, re-constituting of recent history.

Lara Baladi, Lucia Nimcova, Nandipha Mtambo and Agnieszka Polska

6 February to 17 March 2010

Day by day


The Who wrote a song in 1965 that entered Rock ‘n’ Roll history and influenced the development of Punk Rock in the UK. My Generation is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy: as it names and gives voice to the young, mobile, irreverent g-g-g-generation of Western Europe and the United States.

Transparency Series

January 18th, 2010 by Clare Butcher

By Clare Butcher

With the development of Web 2.0, and I’ve been told now, 3.0, culture there comes a need to reevaluate, or indeed, truly evaluate for the first time, how a museum of the 21st century might actually integrate the culture of the Online into its daily, and perhaps minute by minute affairs. We are holding a number of internal seminars, entitled the Transparency series, at the museum to unpack the issues of publicity, discretion and experimentalism in our hyper-reality. The first will be led by Angela Plohman, director of Baltan Laboratories, Eindhoven. Following are some links to a few relevant readings in connection with the content of the workshop.

Virtueel Platform

Through the Looking Glass – Museums and Internet-based Transparency

Keyword: hokum

November 10th, 2009 by Clare Butcher

Some sharp words from Robert Smithson:

Cultural Confinement

Cultural confinement takes place when a curator imposes his own limits on an art exhibition , rather than asking an artist to set his limits. Artists are expected to fit into fraudulent categories. Some artists imagine they’ve got a hold on this apparatus, which in fact has got a hold of them. As a result, they end up supporting a cultural prison that is out of their control. Artists themselves are not confined, but their output is. Museums, like asylums and jails, have wards and cells- in other words, neutral rooms called “galleries.” A work of art when placed in a gallery loses its charge, and becomes a portable object or surface disengaged from the outside world. A vacant white room with lights is still a submission to the neutral. Works of art seen in such spaces seem to be going through a kind of esthetic convalescence. They are looked upon as so many inanimate invalids, waiting for critics to pronounce them curable or incurable. The function of the warden-curator is to separate art from the rest of society. Next comes integration. Once the work of art is totally neutralized, ineffective, abstracted, safe, and politically lobotomized it is ready to be consumed by society. All is reduced to visual fodder and transportable merchandise. Innovations are allowed only if they support this kind of confinement. (more…)

Continuing that labour conversation?

November 3rd, 2009 by Clare Butcher

Posted by Clare Butcher

An interesting article I recently came across in the last edition of the Open cahier published by SKOR and the NAi – by Pascal Gielen: “The Art Scene. A Clever Working Model for Economic Exploitation”

Tired Curators Talk

October 26th, 2009 by Clare Butcher

The following is an intimate exchange between two tired curators responsible for the coup which took place this last week (17th-25th October) in the Oudbouw of the Van Abbemuseum. The ‘Take On Me/Take Me On’ project comprised of various elements: four rooms featuring ongoing design projects by Orgacom, Conditional Design, Acclair and Metahaven; the TAKE A SEAT space which hosted various engaging and public discussions throughout the week between an audience and the design project facilitators; and a documentation station which replayed footage from the various events and presented printed matter such as the ‘Daily Whatever’ – an almost propagandistic style newspaper discussing broader issues raised during the week published each day of the exhibition (but not limited only to the exhibition’s duration!)


Accented expression

October 12th, 2009 by Clare Butcher

By Clare Butcher

The following is a role-play I just delivered here in Gothenburg at Art Monitor’s ‘The Art Text’ conference, organised by the Faculty of Fine Art, University of Gothenburg, Sweden with Johan Oberg, Mika Hannula, Henk Slager and Emma Corkhill. It was a real melange of contributions from artists, artist-researchers, art writers, fiction writers, performances etc. Really reinvigorating what the Art Text could and should be, while uncovering all manner of grey zones concerning what research is and how much autonomy we have within pedagogic models in terms of the expression and materialisation of that research. *One interesting example of this, the Future Reflections Research Group from Chelsea.

My contribution was a little more discursive in terms of the murky waters my writing is wading at this point. It’s a dialogue between myself and my many voices that picks up on a number of similar polyglot projects. Perhaps this speaks to the wadings of others…

A Role-play (X and Y)

For, “The Art Text”, October 9 2009. Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts, University of Gothenburg, Sweden – Dickson Palace.

X: there’s a bad joke they used to tell on South African radio (more…)

Uwaga Warszawa

May 17th, 2009 by Clare Butcher

The following is a report I wrote after visiting Warsaw and Gdansk a few weeks ago. We went there in a de Appel Curatorial Programme capacity and visited a full list of museums, art spaces and practitioners running small initiatives. I feel in relation to the blog-conversation round the Ljubljana conference, this is perhaps another interesting layer to the multiplicity of appropriate responses to art histories in the making.

“Uwaga Warszawa”

These were amongst the first words of Polish I heard and remain the few in my non-existent vocabulary. My usual attempt at clustering a handful of useful equivalents of “please” “thank you” “hello” “goodbye” “where’s the bathroom?” slipped through my fingers. The harder I tried to grasp “Na zdrowie” (the Polish “proost” or “cheers”) the more elusive the phrase and other strange sounds proved for my limited native English palate. The “sssshhhhs” and and “zjls” and “wizcs” on signage around Warsaw appear in a typeface developed in post World War II years – a simple sans serif font, slightly angular, designed purely functionally – being easily readable from a distance. The thick-set black letters on creamy lit-up boxes on train platforms and traffic signals are so distinctive, like the sounds of the words they give utterance to. (more…)

Representing representing

March 1st, 2009 by Clare Butcher

Currently at the Foto Museum, Rotterdam the exhibition ‘Questioning History’ presents an interesting moment for the institute itself to reflect on their own position on the archive/the collection and its relationship to photography. The show includes artists (not exclusively photographers) directly negotiating events and moments in recent history as well as utilising the object as simultaneously reflective and representational. Perhaps the most interesting instance of this, in terms of the current ‘De Keuken’ discussion, is Vid Ingelevic’s ‘The Metropolitan Museum of Edward Milla’ (2007) which recreates the Milla’s 1951, ‘Up at the Photographer’s: Fifty Years of Museum Photography’ in which Milla presented the snapshots of Met photographers within the context of the museum itself.


Even curators…

February 4th, 2009 by Clare Butcher
JÜRGEN STOLLHANS at the European Kunsthalle, Koln

JÜRGEN STOLLHANS at the European Kunsthalle, Koln

Dijks and polders

January 19th, 2009 by Clare Butcher

After weeks of riding around the North of Amsterdam in varying mixtures of the following elements: rain/wind/snow/sun/wind/rain/mist/frost – I am beginning to understand at least one increddibly important aspect of the Dutch terrain (both physically and metaphorically) that with every dijk there comes a polder and vice versa. As we have been researching the history of the area in an attempt to familiarise ourselves with its current state(s) I’ve realised that, as other groups of people may map their time, the development of their society, by monarchys, by changes in government, by years up to or after a certain significant/catastrophic event – these neighbourhoods gauge theirs by the manipulation of the landscape around them. ‘Oh yes,’ you will often hear, ‘that was before they constructed that dijk’ or ‘Well, this would never have been the case had they not reclaimed this section of land from the sea’. No mention of the collapse of the shipping industry in the 80s which left almost the entire town unemployed, or the flood in the 1960s which meant that residents had to be boated out and scattered to relatives across the country. It’s all about dijks and polders.


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