Since its inception in 2019 I’ve devoted most of my time to the Happy Potato Press, a publishing platform I set up to put a wide range of publications, that sit somewhere between literature, poetry, art and children books.
Since then, I took part in various art book fairs, started selling my books across the world and every now and then did a spatial presentation in a project space or book store. For more info, please have a look at happypotatopress.com.
Since its inception in 2019 I’ve devoted most of my time to the Happy Potato Press, a publishing platform I set up to put a wide range of publications, that sit somewhere between literature, poetry, art and children books.
Sunny Side Up was an exhibition at project space Non+Ultra, Cluj (RO). The starting point for the exhibition was a series of drawings of eggs, that were presented as prints, murals, a booklet and a short story. These drawings were later combined into a poster, that I published with the Happy Potato Press.
Like all eggs, Edward can become anything. And like all eggs, Edward has no idea what he will become. At school, Edward and the other eggs often dream about being professional football players. Edward loves playing football. It’s something he could do the rest of his life. Becoming a professional football player is however only possible for very few eggs. That is why Edward has to go to school to learn about Christopher Columbus and about shakshuka and about battery farming. He learns things for a life he doesn’t really want to live. Who cares about shakshuka if you can hit the ball in the top right corner with your left foot?
You can read the whole booklet, that includes a couple more drawings here.
The Mobile House turns with the Sun was a group show at House of Egorn in Berlin, in 2018. The other artists taking part were Niklas Goldbach, Verena Issel and Marion Orfila. It was curated by Carola Uehlken
Here is a short line from the press release about the show: The Mobile House Turns with the Sun brings together surrealistic, poetic and dystopian ruminations on landscape and architecture in the past, resent and future.
Among the works I showed were a moving box with autumn leaves (piece for autumn), a drinkable cobble stone, and a silkscreen print of Planet Earth, looking like a UFO.
You can find out more on the website of the gallery.
The City that started as a Square is a story I wrote in New York in 2017 and converted into an illustrated and interactive publication for theRobert.xyz in 2018. It was published as a booklet in 2019 with the Happy Potato Press.
The story is about a city that started as a small little square, but that keeps on expanding and expanding, until there isn’t any space in the universe left.
Once upon a time there was a city. The city started as a lonely little square on a large piece of land. The square did not know how it got there. The only thing it knew was how to grow. Because it was surrounded by so much space and so alone, the square split itself in two. Over time, the two squares became three, the three became four, until, one day, together, they formed a small village… (excerpt)
Read, see or click through the whole story at theRobert.xyz
Kraut is a series of one day duo-exhibitions in public space in Luzern (CH). I took part in 2018, together with Anna Margrit Annen to show some minimal pieces at Reussinsel, a little patch of green space, next to the river.
For the show I brought a couple of pieces, that were all, in a way, very sad. There is a roll of tape giving all it got, a orange lost in a non-orange tree, a river stone, brought to land that can’t breath, and words that can be read from two sides, but are still unintelligible. There was also a short story I wrote about a drowning actor, that was based on a news article I once read, and which seemed appropriate for the exhibition.
Once, a famous actor and a famous actress went swimming in a river. There were many people around and everybody knew these famous actors.
At one point the actrice started screaming that the actor was drowning. All the bystanders thought the actress and the actor were acting. They thought the actor was doing an amazing job acting like he was drowning, and the actress was doing an amazing job acting like she was screaming.
The actress however was not acting and neither was the actor. The actor was found, four hours later, and several hundred meters downstream, dead. And very real.
Find out a bit more about the festival on Kraut.li.
Wardrobe of Words was a text I wrote as a preface to Dongyoung Lee’s book English (100 Indexes). This book is a collection of tables of contents of English student-teachers books. (e.g. ‘Speaking English Like an American’, ‘English grammar for dummies’…) and is part of a forthcoming series.
In the text I compare words with pieces of clothing, and the way one dresses with the words one wants to express, or in other means, what one wants to say. To further develop this idea, I created an vocabulary of clothes, where each piece of clothing resembles one word in the text. This vocabulary of images was then used to make a video version of the text, that was show at the launch of the book at Page not Found in the Hague, in july 2018.
Clothes are like words—you need to put the right ones together to say what you want to say.
I stand in front of my wardrobe wondering what it is I want to say today. I look at the sky. The sky is clear. The sun is shining. It’s a beautiful day. I should probably say something light. Something colourful. I look into my wardrobe and consider my clothes. (Excerpt)
Chris, the Dreaming Museum Guard, is a sculpture and a short story, that were produced for the musée légitime, a collection of artworks in the hat of Martín La Roche. Chris is inspired by Guatemala worry dolls. Traditionally, you use a worry doll by telling it your sorrows, fears and worries, then hide it under your pillow during the night. The next morning, it is said that all sorrows have been taken away. Whenever the museum is open, Martín will tell about the pieces, and when asked about Chris, Martín will tell you about Chris and his dreams. Although every new telling will be slightly different, the story Martín tells you is based on a short story or script I wrote, here’s an excerpt:
Over the years Chris changed the line up of his team, he would rotate players and bring in new talent, and this is how in 2005 he first put a young Lionel Messi on his team sheet. Over the years Messi became such a good player that Chris didn’t need the rest of the team anymore. He would just need him, Lionel Messi to fall asleep. Chris didn’t even need a soccer pitch or a soccer ball anymore, just Messi was enough. Chris could just close his eyes and Messi would be there, sliding into his bed.
You can read the whole story here.
New Face is a story about a woman who has undergone a face transplant. It was written as an essay for the exhibition Intermittent, as if a space of time could not be occupied by two bodies by Dongyoung Lee and Michiel Hilbrink, for ProjectProbe, 2018
I’ve got a new face. My own’s gone. Chewed off by my dog. The new face is strange to me. The mouth is not my mouth. Chewing food in this mouth is like licking someone else’s plate. The saliva trickling from these cheeks isn’t mine. It is my meal mixed with somebody else’s spit. It’s strange to be here, inside of this mouth, with my own tongue. A hair is growing from my chin. There was never a hair on my chin. Not one. The hair is black and it curls. What to do with it? Cut it off? Pull it out? Let it grow? I’ve decided to let it grow. Just so I’ll know what it’s like to have a hair on my chin. I play with it. I pull it. I don’t feel a thing. No pain. No itching. The nerves connecting my chin to my brain are dead. Better yet, they were never there to start with. Perhaps there will be, the doctors tell me. Every relationship needs time.
When I speak, I can hear we’re not quite there yet. Speaking needs time, too. Whenever I try to say something, the face says something. But my words sound different. There is a lisp trailing my sentences. At night I’m sleeping with a stranger. In the morning I rub the sleep from my eyes. The eyes are mine still. The eyes that previously belonged to this face are no longer around. At least, not as far as I know. Those eyes are the hollows in which I live… (Excerpt).
Read the whole text on Projectprobe.net
For the exhibition I showed a series of copic drawings I was working on at the time, that I made by using stencils to make the shapes of the vegetables identical. This repetition, or sameness was echoed in some dark haiku-like poems that I presented and that speak of a sense of meaninglessness or being stuck, like breathing air that has been breath out for example. These pieces were shown alongside some minimal and often comical works by Mikko and Matthijs, with some mayonnaise stuck in the snout of a glass teapot, or a painstakingly hand sanded flight of steps.
The poems in the show were later included in poetry collection called You can build a house with a hammer, that I published with the Happy Potato Press.
Read a review by Lotte van Geijn on the website of Metropolis M here.
E is a video-work, that was written and produced for the project European Everything by Joar Nango as part of Documenta 14, Athens, Greece, 2017.
Central to Joar’s project was a replica of the letter E taken from the discarded sign of an abandoned refrigerator company with the derogatory name Eskimo. During the Documenta this letter functioned as a stage for indigenous artists to show how they continue their traditions today. This video, which served as the narrative for the project, is a poetic and absurd tale about a fridge that ended up on a scrapyard and questions topics as ownership, inequality, progress and freedom. Here is an excerpt from the story:
When we came they put us in white boxes. Each box was labelled with a name we could not relate to. That name was Eskimo, and they knew us by that name. They needed us here, because they needed a piece of our land. It is hot here they said. We need your cold and they took what they wanted. They thought we had enough to share. Enough home. Enough cold. Enough endless white planes. People used us. Put their food into us. And we kept it fresh. They put grocery lists on our shinny white surfaces, pictures of their loved ones and magnets with images of countries once visited. In other words, they made us their own… (Excerpt)
A Small Life was an exhibition I did at the landing strip, in Berlin in 2017.
For the show I painted a mural of a moving box, that as a see-through passage is somewhere in the process of being folded in or out, on the floor crumpled washing stands take on the qualities of washed clothes, and a plastic bucket, drilled full with holes, is both there and not there.
The spatial works were accompanied by dark haiku like poems, that were written in 2016 / 2017.
See some more pictures here
The Name of the Sun is Yellow is not only the name of this website, but also a collection of short stories I published with Rollo Press in 2016. The stories are mostly poetic reflections on topics that range from church bells and garbage bins to cowboys and the colour of happiness. Although not the fist publication I ever made, this book was the first book that was propperly distributed (thanks @ideabooksnl), and still feels like the springboard to all the writing I have done since. Here is a story called the I and the U:
The I and the U are best friends. Most of the time.
Sometimes the I is without the U. Not often though. But it happens.
When the U is not there, the I thinks of it all the time. The I is pretty sad without the U. Being without the U, makes the I turn into an O.
O.O.O the I sighs more then once.
There are, however, moments when the I cannot stand the U. When the U says something harsh about the I for example. Or when the U doesn’t come home for days and hangs out with other I’s and U’s all night long.
Where have U been? The I asks the U when it comes home yet again in the early morning, tired and drunk and smelling like cigarettes. This pisses the U off. This questioning of the I is one of the reasons the U sometimes needs to leave the I in the first place. One of its favourite replies is that’s none of your business, or what do U care?
This makes the I even more sad. It doesn’t really know how to react when the U is like that. All wound up and such. Mostly the I just turns silent and looks to the ground and with red eyes it babbles something hardly audible. Like U and Love and I and But, don’t U know?
You can read some more stories here.
Het Zwart van Monet (Monet’s Black) is a reflection on the life and garden of Claude Monet in Giverny, France. It was written during my residency at the Cité des Arts in Paris, in 2016 and later that year published as digital publication.
The story is written from the perspective of Monet himself, as he is wandering around his garden. The presence of a ghost, who ponders about the colourful tourists, his own work, his pond, and his current fascination for the color black, from the flipside of the canvas.
Het is mijn tuin niet meer. De tuin is nu van velen. Ze komen van over heel de wereld. Lopen door mijn tuin. Met hun camera’s. Met hun reisgidsen. Ik zie ze. Al die kleurtjes die cirkelen langs mijn vijver, krioelen in de smalle kronkelpaadjes, elkaar verdringend op mijn brug. Het is mijn brug niet meer. Maar ik zie ze. Mijn handen zijn blind. Mijn penselen onzichtbaar. Ik kan alleen nog kijken. En ik kijk. Zittend op mijn steiger. En schilder met mijn ogen. (..Excerpt in Dutch)
Silkscreens & Soft Rocks is the name of a series of drawings I made during my residency at the Cité des Arts in Paris in 2016. Some of these drawings I turned into prints at the local silkscreen workshop and to some of them I wrote some short stories. I combined all these works on a tumblr page that you can find here.
Four Paris Pieces is a series of work I made while being on a residency in, well… Paris. This was in 2016. I spend most of my days walking along the Seine, and browsing books at Shakespeare and Co, which was located just on the other side of the river.
I presented these pieces at a group show at the Cité des Arts. At the time, it was raining like there was no tomorrow in Paris. The water level of the Seine was rising to apocalyptic proportions. A grim view, that served as an eerie backdrop to the exhibition. Because it was such an important part of the experience, I decided to combine the pictures of the overflowing Seine and my works in the show together in the online tumblr documentation.
Popcorn is a video that was made for the Very Short Film Festival, organised at the Cité des Arts in Paris in 2016, where I was a resident at the time. It was written and produced in one morning, is about popcorn and car chases, lasts 2.39 minutes, and left my kitchen covered with plenty of movie stars to eat.
The Eyes of the Marais, is a poetic reflection on the Marais neighbourhood in Paris. It consists of a serie of photographs and a text that were produced in 2016 while I was a resident at the Cité des Arts, which is located in the heart of the neighbourhood. The Marais is one of the richest neighbourhoods of the city, and is mostly inhabited by high-end fashion shops. It is in that sense very much a neighbourhood to see and to be seen…
Every building has several eyes.
Eyes have two directions. Inward and outward.
Eyes don’t consider it very polite to stare into them for a very long time, which is why most eyes only gaze out. It is therefor often a little bit difficult to figure out how the world looks like inside an eye.
Some eyes even wear special items to protect their inner world, like curtains, or blinds or mirrored glass.
In the Marais however, most eyes want you to look into them. They even make a big effort out it. These eyes wear make-up, in the shape of beautiful items, clothing, jewellery. They flirt with their wonderful colours, their nice painted window frames.
You can view the whole publication here
While being at the residency at the Cité des Arts in Paris in 2016, I decided to make some blogs to document my time there. Manon Manon, was my first attempt at these. The blog resulted in a story build with words and images, that were woven together from the things I found on the streets of Paris, the drawings I was making, and the thoughts that occupied me at the time, which happened to be the 1953 flooding of the Netherlands, that my family had experienced and about which I had been writing a short story.
The Buddha looks at his watch and smiles his three smiles. The watch is round. It is half a smile and half a wave.
Together, they form a perfect sun.
There are eyes pushed into the waves. Red and blue and yellow eyes. On the waves, a man drifts around the sea with some nails sticking out of his skin. The man lost his house and his cows and his children which are hidden, somewhere in the black and white water underneath him, where his home used to be. The man can no longer feel his arms, his legs. He has been on the sea too long.
Instead of arms the man has nails sticking out his skin. The nails are there for him to hold onto the world. And for the world to hold onto him. Like a fishing hook thrown into the water without a line. But the man doesn’t know anymore, did he throw himself in the water. Or did the water pull him in? (Excerpt)
What’s your name is a project that was presented at one of the open studio’s at the Cité des Arts, while I was staying there as a resident in 2016. It kind of speaks for itself…
Since I cut back on my caffeine intake, I sometimes go and get myself a decaf americano at Starbucks. Whenever you place an order at Starbucks, they ask you for your name and write it on the cup. My name is Martijn. When I go to Starbucks, For the barista serving me, a Martijn is a cup of decaf americano.
Martijn is just one way I can label myself. There are of course many more, which I instead started to use as my name at Starbucks. Over the course of a couple weeks I was among others Male, Blue Eyes, Skinny, Blonde or Tall. The baristas at Starbucks in Paris though don’t speak English very well. And they always expect to hear a name. A proper name. So often they changed the description I gave them into a first name they knew. Blonde became Lance, Thirty Six became Francis. Beard became Bert.
Of course my name isn’t Bert, or Francis, or Lance. But my cup of decaf coffee isn’t a real cup of coffee either.
Een wafel is pas een gezicht als een wafel verdwenen is in een gezichtWork Description, location maybe
This booklet, which title roughly translates to A Waffle is only a face after it has disappeared in a face, was designed by Johannes Languste. Besides the poems, the booklet also contains two illustrations, that were especially made for the publication.
Twee sokken kijken / door een rooster, / zegt de ene sok / tegen de andere sok: / in. Uit. / Aan. Uit. / Een tong uit de mond, / schiet wortel in de wereld.
You can read the whole publication on this tumblr page
I Once Did a Piece.com was a website with work, that I, well… once did.
Every now and then, talking with friends and colleagues, a story would come up, that would start with, I once did a piece… and then some obscure story would follow, about a work I once made. A work that I exhibited, or that I had destroyed, or that is still somewhere stored in some moisty basement or dusty attic room. I decided to use these ‘old’ works as triggers to write new stories about, believing that the old is never old, and that there are always new ways to look at the past.
I had this website online for some years, but you know how it goes. You pay for a domain, you pay for hosting, while your own story, the one you are living is going other places.
After having spend a good amount of 2013 mostly writing, which culminated in an exhibition at LEO XIII in Tilburg in early 2014, I desperately felt the need to spend more time with my hands than with my head after returning to Berlin. Over a couple of months I made several sculptures. Among them were some chopsticks with nail-polish painted tips, bathroom sinks cast in concrete setting suns, and the hairs of a cactus that were left over after having shaving, which was an in memoriam to Ger van Elk, who passed away at the time, and who had shaved a cactus in 1970. (the well shaven cactus).
Some of these sculptures were later incorporated in exhibitions, but most of them never made it further than my tumblr blog or were destroyed after completion.
Black Zen was an exhibition at the end of my residency at LEO XIII, in Tilburg in 2014. At this time I was mostly writing short stories. Some of the darker ones I combined inside a booklet with the same title that was available at the exhibition, and the more lighter ones I spread out around the space. Most of these ended up in my first collection of short stories, called the Name of the Sun is Yellow, that was published by Rollo Press in 2016.
I bought some bags of confetti on the day of the presentation to ‘decorate’ the space with, like some rising, falling entities, that made up the constitution of this exhibition, and nicely blend in with the paint splatters, the furniture, and the traces of energy left in the space.
I have always been a great fan of the still life paintings of Georgio Morandi. Mostly because they seem timeless. If On Kawara had been living in Italy and had been painting still lives, I’m sure this is what his paintings would have looked like. At the same time, I can’t help mocking him a little bit about this. Always painting the same bottles every day. All so harmonious, timeless, devoid of any emotion. I also found it quite comical, this life long worship of the same empty vessels. To breath a bit of life into those bottles I bought two identical Morandi prints in 2013 and added some smiley faces to them. One happy. One sad. Morandi himself, as always remained straight-faced in the middle.
Kõndides mööda salateid (While Walking on Secret Paths but also While Walking on Salads) was a group exhibition in the courtyard of the Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn, that was curated by Margit Säde Lehni. Taking part in the show were Adrian Piper, Tina Melzer, Caroline Bergvall, Paul Elliman, Louise Lawler, Cia Rinne and others.
Combining mostly sound and text works, the exhibition “Kõndides mööda salateid” is looking into different ways of perceiving and experiencing language and space that surrounds it. For this exhibition I contributed a text piece called the Crossing, that was presented on one the courtyard walls.
The text is a poetic reflection on a zebra crossing, both in the form of an actual crossing, its depiction as a drawing and it’s textual description.
Sometimes you see people pass by, they walk up or down the crossing. High heels that sound like women talking, heavy tired working boots or the feathered feet of children. Then nothing for a moment, a valley of silence before the traffic comes alive again. You look at the passing cars and you follow them from left to right, like words which are heading for the end of a sentence. You repeatedly try and look at yourself in the reflection of the polished cars. Sometimes this works and you see yourself standing, mirrored for a moment in the shiny paint, until it disappears again. This is how you see yourself, superficial and fragmented, distorted and disfigured. Appearing and disappearing, your image transforming every time, as if you are reading the same sentence over and over and its content keeps changing (Excerpt)
Confetti was an exhibition I did at Small Projects, Tromsø, Norway, in 2013. Here is a little text I wrote for the press release:
We cut small holes out of our days and throw them in the air at night. We rise like laughter and we swirl down like tears. We fly and we fall. We celebrate and we mourn. We explode and we dissolve. We are one and we are many.
One of the pieces I showed was a short text called Art History Last Night, that I published later as a saddle-stitched booklet through the Happy Potato Press. You can read the whole text on this tumblr blog, where I previously documented this exhibition.
Drafting Compass was a poem, and self-published booklet about the sun, blood and insanity, written during the warm summer days in Berlin in 2013, and after getting a little too much sun struck by Menno Wigman (‘s Zomers stinken alle Steden).
The sun is shining and I am jamming a drafting compass in my neck. / Water bursts from a fire hydrant. / while children run through the haze.
I am turning insane, / from the blue legs of old men. / Veins that vanish in pulled up socks. / Rotten fruit, / tits in bras. / Swollen dick. / Armpits growing weed. / Red meat. / Buzzing flies.
Beer caps / are pushed down / into the soft asphalt / and wait for rust. / Yes.
A drafting compass in my neck./ Water runs from a tap, / in these medieval streets, / somewhere, in this sun-beaten town around the Mediterranean shores. / I will / wash the dust from my hands. / Swirl down gutters and alleyways, / across cobblestones and manholes, / grace market-squares,
brush boulevards, / until I arrive at the sea / and kiss / the waves goodbye.
(Booklet out of print)
Conceptual art is for ugly kids is a text piece on A4 paper, that I made with the help of a type writer in 2012. It’s a little bit of a joke about conceptual art being not really about looks or about being pretty, but more about the brainy things in art, so in short, for ugly kids. When I was posting this work here, I googled some of these guys to see if that was actually true and I think Joseph Kosuth tried very hard to prove me wrong. Robert Barry on the other hand…
Edition of 20. A few still available, for lovers of ugly kids only.
A Dutch Landscape was a group exhibition at La Casa Encendida in Madrid in 2012. It brought back together two generations of conceptual artists working in the Netherlands, and was curated by Javier Hontoria.
I contributed a bottle of ocean water to the exhibition, a crumpled paper map of the world, a xerox copy of a library card taken from a book on On Kawara, a newspaper and some round memories and a set of uncut keys.
Artists participating in the show were, among others Bas Jan Ader, Marinus Boezem, Stanley Brouwn, Jan Dibbets, Ger van Elk, Gwenneth Boelens, Navid Nuur en Marijn van Kreij. The exhibition was accompanied by a publication that was published by Roma Publications.
Autumn of Modernism was a group show that was held at the Vleeshal, Middelburg and at the Temporary Gallery in Cologne in 2012. It was curated by Lorenzo Benedetti. Among the people taking part were Gwenneth Boelens, Martijn Hendriks, Katja Mater and Falke Pisano.
Among the works I showed was tupperware box filled with rain water, a single worn out trouser hem and a poster with an image of a falling leaf, called a To Write Falling Or To Fall Writing. There was also a text called the Crossing, that I wrote on one of the walls in Cologne, and framed as a drawing in the cabinets of the Vleeshal in Middelburg. You can read that text here. And finally in Middelburg, I collaborated on a piece called 0868 with gerlach en koop, that consisted of a blown up raffle ticket, that was silk screened on a large piece of paper cut out and projected on the walls of the space on 1 to 1 scale.
0868 was a collaborative exhibition with gerlach en koop at Duende Studios, Rotterdam in 2011. It was part of the New Minimalism exhibition series that were organised and curated by Jack Segbars.
The exhibition was held in the main hall of the location, and one of the decisions that marked the exhibition was that all of the works were placed on the ground. You can find some more information in this nicely compiled pdf by gerlach en koop, that also contains an essay by Dieter Roelstraete.
More or less, a few pocket universes, was a group exhibition at HIAP, Helsinki (FI) in 2011. It was curated by Valentinas Klimašauskas and based on the idea of drawing the spectators of the show into constructing their own universes within the exhibition space.
I contributed two pieces to the show, one was Words Things Words, a collection of objects that function both as object and as symbols for words, and a pair of bundled socks in the colors of the earth, or in other words as a container for walking. For the accompanying publication I contributed an artist’s joke.
Here is some more info taken from the official press release:
More or less, the first part of the exhibition’s title, points to correlations between parts and the whole, between singular signs or characters, and the phrase they constitute… Valentinas Klimašauskas’ curatorial concept uses the notion of a “phrase universe” as a starting point. The French philosopher, Jean-François Lyotard created this notion to capture the way in which a phrase presents an entire universe of possibilities. Phrases can carry meanings and yet be indeterminate. A phrase is a transfer of information of any sort, so it may be an abstract form of speech or piece of writing, but it may also be an exclamation, a cry of an animal, a shape, an artwork – indeed, anything that tells a story.
Among the artists taking part in the show were Chris Fitzpatrick, Gintaras Didžiapetris, Jason Dodge, Michael Portnoy, Karl Larsson, and Ola Vasiljeva.
Anthem for the People’s Tomorrow was the title of my graduation exhibition at the Piet Zwart Institute in 2011. For the presentation, I collected some poetry from everyday objects or observations, and presented it in different formats; a painting of a blown-up raffle ticket, a laser print of a line drawn by a falling leaf, a lunch box filled with rain water, a circular, worn-off trouser hem, and a short text called A Watch and a Cheese Sandwich; a playful meditation on preparing a cheese sandwich, in which the movement of ones arms is compared with the movements of the handles on a wrist watch.
It was later also published inside 2HB, published by the CAC in Glasgow, in 2012. You can read a pdf version here.
The Artists Keys is work that consists of a set of blank keys, that I made in 2011. A year or so after I had made this work, I got in touch with a Finnish artist called Mikko Kuorinki, who had made a work that was quite similar: he had left behind a blank key in Blankenstraat, the Hague.
Since then we sometimes combined both works by leaving behind a set of artist keys on various locations.
Acts of Refusal was an exhibition at Tartu Art House, Tartu, Estonia in 2011. It was curated by Ellen Blumenstein and Kathrin Meyer, with contributions by Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson, Rubén Grilo, Tehching Hsieh, Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys, Bernd Krauß and others.
From the press release: The exhibition project ‘Acts of Refusal’ departs from Italian philosopher Paolo Virno’s idea that the act of fleeing is an actual possibility for changing a condition that has become unbearable. What other forms of refusal exist which, instead of deciding on one alternative or another, undermine, mock, stretch realities to absurdity and thus produce – possibly – change? In a highly functional and affirmative society we want to search for such ‘soft’ acts of refusal in works of art that sidestep, or avoid partaking in a game that is not considered their own.
This is a drawing I made while I was at the Piet Zwart Institute in 2010. At the Piet Zwart Institute we spend a lot of time discussing art in the context of critical theory, chatting about Agamben, Ranciere, Jean-Luc Nancy and the like, which could be fun, but was often quite boring. So, one day, I just wanted to make some art that was simply very straight forward, non-theoretical etc.. I gathered my drawing pad, took my pencils and went to the Zoo to make some real life drawings of monkeys. It was a wonderful day. The sun was out, and the monkey quarters of the zoo were smelling nicely of rotten bananas and monkey poo. I think even the monkeys had fun. It must have been awhile since someone drew their portrait. When I showed my days work to the other students at the Institute I don’t think they really liked it. Or perhaps they just didn’t understand. They weren’t monkeys of course.
Daily Truths was a group show at Duende Studios, Rotterdam in 2010. At this time I was still studying at the Piet Zwart Institute. Among the works I showed was a text called The Name of the Sun is Yellow…
You can read that text here.
If you do know that “here is one hand”… was an exhibition at the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius in 2010. It was curated by Valentinas Klimašauskas, among its participants were Gintaras Didziapetris, Jennifer Teets, Aaron Schuster, Raimundas Malasauskas, Jason Dodge.
I contributed a bottle of ocean water to the exhibition.
Here’s some Wittgenstein text from the press info:
‘If you do know that here is one hand, we’ll grant you all the rest’ – those are the opening words of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s On Certainty; a book that only existed in the form of personal notes in the author’s notebook while he was alive. Wittgenstein borrows the ‘hand’ from George Edward Moore’s (1873-1958) text A Defence of Common Sense (1925), in which the latter argues that if he has hands, ‘an external world’ is bound to exist.
In his defence of common sense, Moore had employed a series of performative actions. First of all, he lifted his right hand and said: ‘Here is one hand’. Then he lifted his left hand and said: ‘And here is another’. With the third utterance he confirmed what did not appear evident to the sceptics: ‘Thus, at least two hands exist in the external world, and therefore I know that an external world exists’. Yet Ludwig Wittgenstein prompted one to doubt this logic. Referring to the fact that nobody had ever seen their brain, he turned that statement into a question: ‘do I know that I have a brain?’.
You can find some more info on the show here.
Voor het volgende moment, which translates into English as For or Before the next moment, was an exhibition at the CBK in Rotterdam in 2009. It consists of a series of minimalist works, that hover somewhere in the space between the inception of an idea but before its materialisation. Or perhaps better put, are in a continual state of coming into being.
The And was an exhibition at ZingerPresents in Amsterdam in 2009. At the time, I had just returned from a three month stay in New York were I spent most of my days reading books, which seem to blur somewhat the difference between my life in and outside of books.
There are always more books to read and more stories to lose yourself in and more planets to discover and more black holes inside ones coffee to lose yourself in and and and the And.
In 1963 the National Gallery in Washington exhibited da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. It was the only time the painting was ever loaned out, and for the occasion, had been done so directly to the president of the United States.
In 2008, I found the catalogue of this exhibition in a second hand bookstore in New York. For this piece I took the first, rather sensual but descriptive paragraph of the opening text of this catalogue, and printed it out on a simple A4 sheet of paper, thus presenting this famous woman from art history as a beautiful, but anonymous woman.
The piece was shown at various occasions and is in the possession of different collectors. I imagine some of them quite enjoy joking about having the Mona Lisa in their private collection.
Earlier, the spacewalkers… was a text piece, that was exhibited at a group show at the former Fotomuseum in Rotterdam, in 2009. The whole text reads: Earlier, the spacewalkers spotted a screw floating by, but were too far away to catch it. “I have no idea where it came from,” Stefanyshyn-Piper told Mission Control. — and was taken from a news article, published on November 19th 2008, by several big newspapers.
The article had the somewhat comical headline: “Astronaut loses tool bag in space” and tells about how an astronaut accidentally loses her tool bag during reparation work on a solar panel. A line in this article, which seems to be disconnected from the rest of the piece, mentions a peculiar remark made by the astronaut, about a screw floating by.
I liked the idea that up there, somewhere on the edge of our planet and outer space, between knowing and not-knowing, there is a screw floating by. Something is lose, broken; things happen that can’t be explained, which is nicely illustrated by the remark of the astronaut herself.
I took this line from the news article, the way I imagine one takes a screw out of an object (or out of somebody’s head), and printed it high-up on the entry wall of the exhibition space.
Handmade Drawing of the Moon is a series of charcoal drawings I made between 2008 and 2015. These Moon drawings were made by drawing the outline of a circle by hand, after which I filled out its details as best I could. At the time, I was fascinated by the idea of imperfect perfection, considering the hand drawn circle to reflect both qualities. Perfect, because drawn 100% naturally, imperfect because not geometrically 100% correct. I once wrote a more reflective letter about this process to some people who had purchased one of my moons. You can read that letter here.
I exhibited these moons in several settings, among them at the group show Secret Surface at KunstWerke, Berlin in 2016, where they accidently installed it upside down.. but hey, when it comes to the moon, what’s up and down anyway?
The I as an O, was an exhibition at Tulips & Roses Gallery in Vilnius (LT) in 2009. The show, had some sun, some moon, and some earth, and this to say about itself in the press release: The title of the exhibition can be read in several ways. ‘I’ is the first person singular pronoun, looks like a marker and sounds like an eye. The ‘O’ on the other hand looks like an eye, has the shape of a planet and sounds like perplexity. The exhibition itself is probably the space where all these properties come together.
Reading On Kawara is a Xerox copy of a library card that belongs to the book “On Kawara – Continuity/ discontinuity” from the Willem de Kooning Academy library, Rotterdam.
Over a period of a couple of years I made a photocopy of this particular library card. Sometimes people had borrowed the book and I found that some dates were added and sometimes there were not, but I always made a copy nevertheless. In total I made five or six of these, until one day, I arrived at library and found that the card had disappeared from the book.
On that day, I made a Xerox copy of the absent library card, which resulted in an all black page and as such marked the end of the project.
One of these pieces is in the collection of the FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, Dunkirk and has been shown on several occasions, mostly accompanied by some works of On Kawara himself.