What are the socio-political environments and histories shaping the arts? How do they inform artists and thinkers today? Further, how do they in turn, respond to and co-form such contexts? As such, our institution continues to provide a space for artists and thinkers to stage, question, and define, how their respective interests and social concerns have taken, and take shape, in the present age of lost narrative. Through our on-going exhibition program and their agency, we continue to circle our shared precious and precarious present, and consider ‘now’ as a period of continual transition and transformation toward a hopefully, better future.

With Cinema Olanda: Platform, Wendelien van Oldenborgh opens up her work, which explores Dutch colonial histories as well as recent public debates around existing power structures vis-à-vis the personal. Inviting collaborators to present their manifold projects that activate neglected histories of activism(s) in the Netherlands and instigating new conversations, while continuing old ones, with and through her cast, peers, and partnerships, she and curator Lucy Cotter, extend their presentation at the Dutch pavilion at 57th Venice Biennale back to Rotterdam. Artists, writers, thinkers, and activists have responded with a six-week program of talks, screenings, performances and events.

Spurred by conversations with these individuals and groups, we also embark on a number of initiatives, including an upcoming edition of Rotterdam Cultural Histories, which lays bare a history of Witte de With the figure, the street name, and naming of our institution; a first step in a longer and sustained trajectory of addressing issues of representation within public institutions and Dutch society more broadly.

On our third floor Goshka Macuga and Ahmet Öğüt embark in a dialogue on the possible role of the critically engaged contemporary artist in relation to one another, and attempt to formulate a methodology with which to generatively correlate their respective practices. With the first part steered this Summer by Öğüt (and second in Fall by Macuga), we look forward to the unfolding of their processes of examination, and to the ways in which their on-going conversation, equally subject to misinformation and misunderstanding, but also trust, generosity and peer-to-peer play, will be read in a ‘post-truth’ world. 

Last but not least, on our ground floor, Para | Fictions continues to examine what is generated or lost in the slippages, translations, and activations between the seemingly disparate fields: literature and contemporary art, with our latest commissions by Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel and Rayyane Tabet.

Hoping we were able to pique your interest with our though-provoking program, we can’t wait to see you back again in Fall.

Defne Ayas
Rotterdam, May 2017