Street: behind the cliché

Witte de With is pleased to present the thematic group exhibition Street: behind the cliché. Open from 9 September until 19 November 2006, it features work in a range of media by 28 international artists.

In a city, the street can serve many purposes: it can be a sidewalk where a mass of people meet and pass each other on a daily basis; an infrastructure through which people move from A to B; an ideal space for consumerism to reach a broad audience. Today’s city streets can be thought of as post-public spaces, intimately interwoven with market mechanisms and forcefully, politically designed. ‘The street’ that used to be a synonym for ‘public space’ has now become highly regulated, ordered and controlled.

Not so long ago, Johan Remkes (Dutch State Secretary) pointed out in a governmental memorandum titled A Design Strategy for the Netherlands that we all need to strive for a ‘clean’, ‘safe’ and ‘intact’ public space. To think of the street as the ideal location on which the many-faceted, cultural life of the metropolis is shown now seems outdated, but still phrases such as street art and street culture are forever being used by numerous art institutions, generally funded with public money. The time is ripe for a reconsideration of how public space operates, especially in the Netherlands, where the notion is a perennially popular topic of discussion.

Nowadays it is rare to encounter critical reflections on aesthetic representation that do not involve the concept of space, whether its a social, emotional, institutional or economic space. Street: behind the cliché considers the particular section of public space called the street as a local theater, a stage on which the complex stratification of cultural codes is acted out and identity is formed. The exhibition therefore functions as an analysis of the interrelated phenomena that we encounter in our immediate surroundings, such as the fraught relationship between popular culture and sub-cultural identity, how ‘underground’ is now big business.

In the works included in the exhibition, twenty-eight artists express a varied fascination with city planning, failing modernity and its utopias, social and economic pressure, and the anonymity of everyday life and its worn-out routine. They dissect, analyze and redefine these phenomena to invite us to rethink contemporary society’s existing symbols of iconoclasm and idolatry, causing us to look behind the clichés that we encounter in the stream of life.

Artists: Joachim Baan (NL), David Blandy (UK), Henning Bohl (DE), Martin Boyce (UK), Tobias Buche (DE), Jason Dodge (US), Marius Engh (NO), Gardar Eide Einarsson (NO), Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard (UK), Isa Genzken (DE), Pieterjan Ginckels (BE), Sascha Hahn (DE), Laura Horelli (FIN), Pieter Hugo (ZA), Ian Kiaer (UK), Germaine Kruip (NL), Klara Liden (SE), Gareth Moore (CA), Alex Morrison (CA), Chloe Piene (US), Robin Rhode (ZA), Ugo Rondinone (CH), Matt Stokes (UK), Aram Tanis (NL), An Te Liu (CA), Luc Tuymans (BE), Silke Wagner (DE), and Tobias Zielony (DE).



Supported By

The British Council.

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