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Rotterdam Cultural Histories #4: Paul Thek

In 1978-79 the Lijnbaancentrum in Rotterdam organized the exhibition Jack’s Procession: What’s Going on Here? with Paul Thek (1933-1988, US), displaying an environment that filled the entire exhibition space of the center. Thek had created large-scale environments in a number of European institutions in the late sixties and early seventies, this installation in Rotterdam was one of the last that he made in Europe.

Jack’s Procession represented a dreamy landscape that contained some of the religious, spiritual and political symbols that he had used before, but also showed new iconographic elements that were, in Thek’s eyes, “typical for Rotterdam”. He integrated snapshots and newspaper clippings concerning environmental issues in the Rotterdam area, and asked a sand sculptor to create a tower, inspired by Rotterdam’s The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel I (collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen).

The Lijnbaancentrum played a key position in Rotterdam as a platform for contemporary art and other cultural activity from 1970-1984. Located in the center of the city, it strived to interest “the normal Rotterdam citizen” in all forms of art and culture through playful and associative exhibitions.

Rotterdam Cultural Histories #4 features a series of photographs of Thek’s environment, as well as other archival material. Most of these photographs, loans from the Municipal Archive Rotterdam, have never been shown or published before. Also on view is a compilation of video fragments made for the exhibition The Wonderful World That Almost Was, the very first retrospective exhibition of Paul Thek in 1995 at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art.

Rotterdam Cultural Histories is a collaborative project between TENT and Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art that explores our common roots in Rotterdam and articulates meeting points between both of our programs. Rotterdam Cultural Histories is conceived by Defne Ayas (Director of Witte de With) and Mariette Dölle (Artistic Director, TENT). This fourth edition is curated by Adelheid Smit (PR & Communication Witte de With) and was conceived in collaboration with Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, that will present an exhibition and book Please Write! on Paul Thek on 6 February 2015 alongside Rotterdam Cultural Histories #4.

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