Fudge the Facts

forever a pupil

Willem de Kooning Academy Studium Generale talk with Jan Verwoert

Join us Wednesday the 26th of October for a lecture by Jan Verwoert followed by a discussion.
Location: Kralingse Zoom 91

Title: appropriation–>invocation–>supercommodification

It may be too simple to put it this way, but: attitudes towards how the body and soul of art relates the forces of power, sex and money may have drastically changed from the 80s to the 90s to the 00s.

In the 80s the word was out that history is over and all we are left with is supermarkets and museums filled with dead stuff that looks cool but won’t talk. So all you could do was take stuff off the shelf and make it look even cooler (appropriation).

In the 90s history came back in a big way: You can’t be cool when the cold war is over. No one knows where things are going, but the world gives you new hopes, cheap flights and house music, but equally old ghosts, recent traumas, returning in civil wars. None of this is about stuff or properties, it’s all about situations, improvisations, lots of talk and blasts from the past, it’s about energies, ecstasies and brutalities which none owns but many feel passing through their bodies, much like a medium channels forces (invocation).

In the 00s the rich got richer, money was back and so was the market. But what to sell when all that glitters is the screen and what’s on it is virtual and infinitely available on the internet? What makes the singular download more sexy than a file that circulates freely? And what to do with your own body when there is so many bodies online and the money for the rent is too tight to mention? Accelerate consumption? Learn from the 80s but make it better, slicker, digital, hormonal, and draw out those white lines longer and longer (supercommodification).

Now what if we work but the drugs don’t and Prozac lets us down? Then souls may wirelessly connect, search for medicine and meet on the world_wide_astral_pl@ne.

Jan Verwoert is a critic and writer on contemporary art and cultural theory, based in Berlin. He is a contributing editor of frieze magazine, his writing has appeared in different journals, anthologies and monographs. He teaches at the Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam, the de Appel curatorial programme and the Oslo National Academy of the Arts. He is the author of Bas Jan Ader: In Search of the Miraculous, MIT Press/Afterall Books 2006, the essay collection Tell Me What You Want What You Really Really Want, Sternberg Press/Piet Zwart Institute 2010, together with Michael Stevenson, Animal Spirits — Fables in the Parlance of Our Time, Christoph Keller Editions, JRP, Zurich 2013 and a second collection of his essays Cookie! published by Sternberg Press/Piet Zwart Institute 2014.

Dear Bill: an ongoing conversation about contemporary art education

Dear Bill,

I often wonder what you think of us, and for that matter, the school of your namesake, as you gaze silently down from the stairwell. There’s something erotic about your masculine pose, the way your soft white shirt is unbuttoned at the top, and how your plush corduroy pants outline the slight tilt of your posture. Admittedly, I have a thing for men in corduroys – maybe it’s that professorial fetish I’ve had since I was a teenager – an analyst would say it’s a father complex I’m sure.

As my eyes occasionally catch yours in passing, there are so many questions:

What do you think about us – did you ever imagine this?
What was it like at the Black Mountain College?
Did you even use the word ‘curriculum’, or was there simply an unspoken order to the lessons?
What was it like to work with Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Harry Callahan, Mary Callery, Merce Cunningham, Edward Dahlberg, Max Dehn, Buckminster Fuller, Walter Gropius, and Jacob Lawrence?
Did you eat and drink together?
Did students see you contradict each other in conversation?
Were you in the garden when Buckminster Fuller experimented with his geodesic domes?

Bill, there are so many things I want to speak with you about… if you’re around and have a little time, can you PM me? I’m uncertain whether I’m on the right track with my teaching, and so need your advice.

xx Renee

RIP Chantal Akerman

Kingdom in decay

There’s nothing like looking back at your own work and realizing most of it has disappeared with the way of the web, and there ain’t no Wayback Machine that will ever put it back again. Reduced to a few remaining jpegs of crappy resolution screenshots, there’s a sense of frustration, but then I remember that’s exactly what I’ve always loved about working online. It’s ephemeral, or said less highbrow, it’s disposable – links get made and are broken, social networks form and collapse, frames get deprecated, html grows old, Flash (let’s not talk about it), and hardware dies….. and all those ones and zeros continue to proliferate, indifferent to my little kingdom in decay.


When I took avian ecology in university my professor, Warren Pulich, always professed that crows are the smartest of birds. He said getting their skins (used for identification classes) was difficult, because they always knew when you were out to catch them. Now it appears, he wasn’t just telling a tall Texas tale….. “These results show that crows will avoid an area or thing that is deemed dangerous to their own species. In other words, they know what death is and know to fear it.” Read more…


A perfect storm of deadlines——> trying to stay centred while avoiding the drain.

Conversation with Nana Adusei-Poku and John Akomfrah

Nana Adusei-Poku in conversation with John Akomfrah, Witte de With, Rotterdam

What a fantastic way to end the year. It was a packed house at the Witte de With, and the event was the culmination of a tremendous amount of discussion and preparation by the PZI Interdepartmental Think Tank. In light of Stuart Hall’s passing in February 2014, we wanted to find a way of honouring and revisiting his work -  and the evening delivered just that.

For me the two most timely and memorable quotes of the evening were from The Stuart Hall Project, where Hall says “Race is the lens through which people come to perceive that a crisis is developing.” In the wake of Ferguson, no truer words could be spoken about current economic and social divides. And later John Akomfrah in conversation with Nana Adusei-Poku talked about the power of archives, and their capacity to speak, adding that “the archival trace is the monument of the diaspora.”

A big thanks to everyone in the Piet Zwart Interdepartmental Think Tank for making this event possible, and the Witte de With for being generous hosts.

Screening of The Stuart Hall Project followed by a conversation between John Akomfrah and Nana Adusei-Poku

John Akomfrah,The Stuart Hall Project (still), 2013. Film. Image courtesy of Smoking Dog Films.

Screening of The Stuart Hall Project, followed by a conversation between Nana Adusei-Poku (Research Professor in Cultural Diversity at Hogeschool Rotterdam and Witte de With’s Curatorial Fellow 2015) and director John Akomfrah.

Piet Zwart Interdepartmental Think Tank Event hosted by the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art 

Saturday, December 13, 2014, 3pm
Screening begins at 3:15pm, free

Witte de Withstraat 50

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art hosts the screening of The Stuart Hall Project and a conversation with the director John Akomfrah, in collaboration with the Piet Zwart Institute and the Research Professorship for Cultural Diversity.

Stuart Hall (1932–2014) was a leading intellectual and cultural theorist in the UK for more than 50 years. He regularly appeared on television and radio, and fronted provocative, thoughtful documentaries. Not only was his work influential in terms of establishing the field of Cultural Studies, he also became one of the key theorists for a younger generation of intellectuals and artists throughout the Black Diaspora. Stuart Hall’s work embraces marginalized and situated knowledge, and examines what identity categories mean within a wider socio-political and academic discourse.

Director John Akomfrah, who belongs to this younger generation, comes to Rotterdam with his masterful film essay made entirely from Hall’s film, television, radio and photographic archives, and it is accompanied by a soundtrack from Hall’s musical hero, Miles Davis. Often using his own experience as a Jamaican-raised part Scottish, part African, part Portuguese Jew to make his point, Hall’s central argument is that a person’s identity is continually shaped by surrounding forces. Not only does this remarkable film work as both a portrait of Hall himself and his adopted country, it is also an intriguing insight into how the UK has for many decades used the documentary form to explore questions of identity.

This event is conceived by the Piet Zwart Institute’s Interdepartmental Think Tank. The group is composed of representatives from the Creating 010 Research Centre, staff members, students from each programme and the Director of the Piet Zwart Institute. Looking at how interests can be shared across courses, they plan interdisciplinary projects and public programming.

This afternoon is presented as part of Studium Witte de With, a collaborative education platform for art and theory which is intended to serve as a catalyst bridging various fields of knowledge across higher education. Studium Witte de With offers a broad program mapping and analysing the cultural and political ecology.



De Geuzen, Other Projects & Collaborations

Next to my other work, I've collaborated with Riek Sijbring and Femke Snelting under the name of De Geuzen since 1996. Below you'll find links to De Geuzen's main site and selected projects which have radically informed my thinking about visual research, digital writing and narratives. It is important to note that some of these works have collapsed with the evolution of the web, nonetheless I keep their traces online as an archive of an earlier internet.