Masterclass: Activating the Archive

In the context of the exhibition Bik Van der Pol – WERE IT AS IF in which artists Liesbeth Bik and Jos van der Pol are invited to unfold, repack and reinterprete the archive-in-progress through an exhibition, Witte de With and Open Set Summerschool present a masterclass by the artists duo.

What is hidden, forgotten, cast away, or overlooked in the day-to-day operations of a cultural institution? How does one make tangible the container of knowledge that envelops the factual succession of exhibitions and publications?

Paying close attention to the socio-economic and political context in which the institution was created, in the exhibition WERE IT AS IF the artists depart from the belief that cultural institutions and their legacies are as much made up of stories, ephemeral objects, and subtle traces. This long term forensic investigation examines, tests and actively exposes that which lies concealed in the folds of history. They focused on those projects from the near and distant past which tested the boundaries between the internationally operating institution and its home town of Rotterdam.

In this masterclass, Bik Van der Pol elaborate on the first phase of the project, the research and the exhibition itself. Together with Bik Van der Pol the participants will consider the questions, problems and choices that result from the ‘public-making’ of archives.

Together participants of the masterclass research some characteristic case studies from the local context and the institutional history of Witte de With, working in the form of group assignments that question how site-specific archive material can be researched, unlocked and activated in the context of today.

Examples of case-studies which also feature in the exhibition are Europe, gentrification, urban development and social issues. Participants work in small groups to chart a selection of these cases and prepare means of making these public. The workshop concludes with a presentation of a publication (printed matter, performance, presentation) to the public.



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