Witte de With | Center for Contemporary Art


Hey guys, guess what? I’m turning 25, and you’re all invited! And I mean EVERY SINGLE ONE of you.

All the right stars are aligned for my birthday today, January 27th. We celebrate with family first, Dutch cake with coffee, you know. Adriaan is beaming in from Singapore (thanks Keng Sen!); Kees and Jack arrive with Saskia.

My old-new friend Willem will unveil an astrological birth chart, made for Piet Mondrian for his birthday in 1911. Come today and every day, especially from 2.15 pm to 2.30 pm. Then you can also see where I stand in relation to the sun.

I’m not just tooting my own horn here.

For I am more than just an institution; I am a body. Ever since I got born on a cold winter’s day in 1990, with lines waiting outside, to take a good look at Guillaume’s shopping mall, I’ve been talking and writing A LOT. And showing my friends’ art work, of course. You see, I’ve never really subscribed to the idea that politics and culture are two separate things. So talking, and showing (which is but another way of talking) is a big deal in the house of me. Exhibitions, symposia, lectures, forums… I even publish stuff. And the rad thing is … I’m still totally young and hot!

It is true that some of you know me much better than others. There are maybe a few hundred or even a thousand of you that have actually been inside me at one time or another. (Get your mind out of the gutter! I get a new boyfriend every three to six years, okay? Although I have been known to experiment with girls (hint hint!). Among those, quite a few of you have tampered with my inner workings over the years, have taken on the role of voices inside my head, rerouted my circuitry in ways that have given me and the others lots to think about, new directions in which to flow, and maybe even a little bit of pleasure here and there, too.

As my friends can tell you, I’ve always been a wild one. We already started partying last week. (I know, I know, I’ve always been a forward-thinking gal, LOL.) You know, because art totally isn’t its own thing anymore; what does it have to do with gas, wheat, minerals, and cotton? What about real alternative sources, such as the sun? Anton said: “Fly on rays of cosmic energy, baby. That way, we can even revive the dead.” (WTF??) Lucky me, Nina, Céline, Mikhail, Nicholas, MAP Office (Happy 20 Hongkies!), and Marlie all showed up. Natasha will light up the oil for Aladdin’s lamp the next few weeks. Oil as mythical substance, ooh la la! Shell baby!

The party will keep rockin’ until 3 January 2016. Later in the year, we’ll be checking out Planetary Computation and Asymmetrical Warfare. (Art as bots? Art as ornament and object of gamble? OMG, I’m so excited!) We’ll Google with Doug via Paris. We’ll dig Baldwin in Seattle, Savannah, and Istanbul. We’ll yam with Nana, Sienna & Co. And have a real Roast in the fall with frenemies. (Haters beware!)

Oh, before I forget (drugs, you know, LOL), I’ve invited some of my best friends – Mahony (who ignites the giant LED box today), Özlem, Wineke, Camille, Germaine, Raimundas, Zin, Freek, Christopher, and Zhen – to take turns digging into my dirty laundry, then putting it on display to all of Rotterdam, night and day.

Am I forgetting anything? Sorry, but my brain is stuck in the cosmos these days. Me and all these voices in my head, thinking about what the world was like in 1990 and what it’s like today. Same but different, they seem to say. A quarter of a century and sexier than ever. Let’s get together and never die.

The image of art that Witte de With disseminates is a universal and autonomous one. It is dissemination that should not prevent the construction of a framework which can tell us, for example, something about the glamour of art and its capacity for communication, about art from beyond Europe or North America, or about the terror of current events.

– Introductory essay in The Lectures, Witte de With Publishers, 1990

Commissioned for Witte de With XXV.

Written by Travis Jeppesen, a Berlin-based American novelist and artist.

via Witte de With | Center for Contemporary Art.

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