Footnotes to Beauty and the Right to the Ugly
The show is in honor of the artist’s laureate of the Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for Arts 2014 which she receives October 2nd.. The installation at the gallery consists of two short films, a double projection, drawings and a big wall print on one of the gallery walls.
Footnotes to Beauty and the Right to the Ugly is the first outcome of a cinematic experiment set in the community center, Het Karregat, in Eindhoven. Het Karregat, designed by the architect Frank Van Klingeren and completed in 1974, is a multifunctional centre in a neighborhood of new housing designed for an alternative middle class in Eindhoven. The design was an open-plan space wherein different activities and functions –a library, a school, a café, a health center, a supermarket and communal area– were connected under the same superstructure. Wendelien Van Oldenborgh examines the devenir –and partial failure– of this utopian architecture, while conceiving and implementing a filming methodology that translates architecture premises such as “open”, “user-led” and “participative” into cinematic devices.
Footnotes to Beauty and the Right to the Ugly consists of three small video projection structures, a wall print and some drawings, which exist independent of the upcoming larger installation Beauty and the Right to the Ugly. The premiere of which will take place in the exhibition Confessions of the Imperfect, from the 22nd of November in van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.
Beauty and the Right to the Ugly will have three chapters, referring to the three statements with which the history of Het Karregat could be sketched. The first chapter, ‘Open Architecture for an Open Society / the government embarks on experiments’ refers to the fact that it was the city government which initiated the experiment of ‘Open Architecture’. The question remains why and how these authorities were interested in propagating the idea of an open society. The second chapter: ‘Experiments don’t need to succeed, they just need to exist’ offers some possible insights into those questions. And the last chapter: ‘Normalization makes everything safe again’ focusses on how today’s situation shows that all the alternative attitudes have been co-opted into the neo-liberal system by processes of normalization. All material was filmed in a series of shoots with the participation of many people who have lived with and around the experiment. The building is a materialization of the time that passed since the 70’s.
This work explores the seemingly opposing nature of the ideals from the 70’s in relation to the current climate. However, it exposes that the contrary may be also true. The visible differences can also be interpreted as the logical workings of a well functioning capitalist discourse, which was already set into operation in the 60’s.
Half-way between directing the participants, and letting them take the lead, the work functions also as a performative enactment of the issues it addresses. It will thus be a continuation of the artist’s interest on filmmaking as a performative device and of her ongoing engagement in discussions on collectiveness, its intersection with the private and the role cultural production plays in this.
Van Oldenborgh has participated in the 54th Venice Biennial 2011, Bienal de Cuenca (EC) 2014, 4th Moscow Biennial 2011, the 29th Bienal de Sao Paulo 2010, the 11th Istanbul Biennial 2009 and at the Oberhausen Short Film Festival 2010, Images festival Toronto 2010 and Berlinale Forum Expanded 2011 and 2013. More exhibitions include: theTate Liverpool, Generali Foundation, Vienna, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Museum Sztuki, Lodz, Tranzitdisplay, Prague, Van Abbemusem, Eindhoven, Casco, Utrecht and Muhka in Antwerp.
Larger articles on the artist work were in international magazines as Afterall, Texte zur Kunst. An extensive monograph on the artist work will be published by Sternberg Press (Berlin), The Showroom (London) and If I Can’t Dance (Amsterdam) in the middle of 2015. Footnotes to Beauty and the Right to the Ugly is the prelude to a larger work which will premiere later this year at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.