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Rotterdam Cultural Histories #18: The 1980s art scene on the Witte de Withstraat

This edition of Rotterdam Cultural Histories focuses on the art scene of the Witte de Withstraat in the 1980s. A documentary exhibition, it presents images and materials of the art initiative Het Veem, as well as three art galleries: Galerie Snoei, Galerie van Mourik, and Tudelu Galerie. Their spaces were all sited on the Witte de Withstraat during that decade. Also presented are photographs commissioned to Jannes Linders. These picture the current use of the original location of these art spaces. The aim of this exhibition is to examine the role these art spaces played in shaping the artistic climate of our street, and to acknowledge the ways in which they lay the ground for the founding of our institution here.

At the time, many new institutions were founded and sited in the vicinity. These include: CBK Rotterdam (1982); Maritime Museum (1986); Dutch Architecture Institute – NAi (1988), which eventually merged into The New Institute (2013); our institution, formerly known as Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (1990); Kunsthal (1992); V2_Lab for the Unstable Media (1994); WORM (1994); Nederlands Fotoarchief (1990) and Nederlands Fotoinstituut (1994), which eventually merged into Nederlands Fotomuseum (2003); M.a.M.A. (1997); and, TENT Rotterdam (1999). Together, these institutions have greatly contributed to Rotterdam’s artistic climate.

This exhibition is one of several upcoming projects exploring histories in and of this street from 1871 onwards. That was the year it was named Witte de Withstraat. Since then, the street has been home to editorial offices and various newspapers; it was also an allegedly shady-night-life destination; it has been considered Rotterdam’s art quarter; more recently, it has become a central destination for cultural tourism, and is populated with hotels, restaurants, bars, and cafés. Since 2013, the organization Kunstblock (‘Art block’), promotes institutional collaboration and cross-promotion between neighboring institutions here: CBK, MAMA, TENT, V2, WORM, and our institution.

This exhibition is curated by Wendy van Slagmaat-Bos. It is part of Rotterdam Cultural Histories, a collaborative project between our institution and TENT Rotterdam, both housed in this building. Begun in 2014, this long-term research project focuses on studying these institution's common roots in Rotterdam. This presentation is also part of Anchored, a project series that explores this institution’s immediate environment, including its building, street, and neighbors. Experience other Anchored projects at MELLY and on our 2nd floor.

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