Rome Was Built For A Day sees the archive through two commissions by Fabian Bechtle and Adriana Ramić. A proposal to bypass chronological investigations into history of art and exhibitions, Witte de With’s in-house materials are activated to yield various contributions on the third floor at the institute and in its digital channels.
Emerging from a relationship with an artificial neural network trained on Witte de With’s digital archive of the past ten years, Adriana Ramić presents a fictitious exhibition. Each piece responds to a text. The texts were composed by a crude version of an autonomous brain — a program which is informed by the institution’s data itself. Seeking to perplex anthropomorphism, Adriana Ramić’s exchange with machine learning employs a certain brutalism of bureaucracy: it is regarding the process of exhibition making as an administrative gesture through documents preserved on the institute’s working server since 2006. This project is part of a long-term research by Adriana Ramić on the question of materializing systems of cognition.
With an interest in the creation of memory Fabian Bechtle has frequently worked on archives. His contribution proposes an observant perspective on the archive of Witte de With. Entering it like a scene both the outward set-up as well as its inner transformations were scanned: in the video, the exhibition space resembles its appearance to date, but also seems to document a different time — in the future or the past. With this proposal of temporality as a possibility, the archive is read as a sculpture in process, a temporary topography or architecture of memory. In order to capture what is yet invisible but present, the camera pans down shelves, boxes and items. The signatures of all directors of the institute are to set into motion an artistic, discursive and administrative evolution of Witte de With. They are shown alongside inhouse materials, while the archival work on the third floor continues. Presented on the third floor, the exhibition also makes use of an earlier set-up. It was initially created by deputy director Paul van Gennip and artist Pierre Bismuth for his solo show in 1997: Special filters on the gallery windows retain transparency but allow for a view outside, while removing just enough light for a clear video projection inside.
Rome Was Built For A Day is the title of a song by Lawrence Weiner. It was released on a record Weiner produced with Ned Sublette in 1997. An mp3 version of this album is part of former curator Juan Gaitán’s research in Witte de With’s digital archive.