Marie-Andree Pellerin (DAI,2015): Housekeeper, Van Abbemuseum, Performance at the opening of Using The Museum / Dutch Art Institute at the Van Abbemuseum, 2014 (Photo: Dai Xiyun)
Since the DAI in 2008 became involved with Be(com)ing Dutch, the highly innovative and very timely project and exhibition at the Van Abbemuseum, it has been clear to us that if there is one place in the Netherlands were the elitist and "white cubist" inclination of a museum, typically designed to cater to the needs of the local bourgeoisie has been turned into a place for outright inquiry into the political relationship between art and society, then it is the Van Abbe under the passionate and brilliant leadership of Charles Esche (director) and Annie Fletcher (curator), later joined by Steven ten Thije (research curator) and several others. What was needed to shake up the quite sybaritic (until budgets were cut) art scene in the splendid isolation of the Netherlands, actually happened at the Van Abbe. Topical and pressing questions such as "how can art education overcome its middle class orientation", and "how can we get rid of the figure of the artist as the prototypical free subject and of the artwork as stand-in for freedom", were brought to the fore at the Van Abbe in an energetic and playful way, engaging a new generation of artists, curators and students at the forefront of the contemporary scene. To find international artists and art students speaking affectionately about a museum of name and fame, as if it were their living room, was very inspirational to us in the light of our own dream of the art school/academy as a place where art and research are lived rather then taught. From Becoming Dutch via the Autonomy Project, we gradually moved towards teaming up for the duration of year long projects such as Useful Art and the current Using the Museum.