The Van Abbemuseum ~ 2006 and onward
"The Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven is one of the first public museums for contemporary art to be established in Europe. The museum’s collection of around 2700 works of art includes key works and archives by Joseph Beuys, Marc Chagall, René Daniëls, Marlene Dumas, Sheela Gowda, Patricia Kaersenhout, Gülsün Karamustafa, Iris Kensmil, Oskar Kokoschka, John Körmeling, El Lissitzky, Paul McCarthy, Pablo Picasso, Martha Rosler, and Lidwien van de Ven. The museum has an experimental approach towards art’s role in society. Openness, hospitality and knowledge exchange are important to us.
We challenge ourselves and our visitors to think about art and its place in the world, covering a range of subjects, including the role of the collection as a cultural 'memory' and the museum as a public site. International collaboration and exchange have made the Van Abbemuseum a place for creative cross-fertilisation and a source of surprise, inspiration and imagination for its visitors and participants."
Since the DAI in 2008 became involved with Be(com)ing Dutch, the first de-colonizing 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.
Collaborations Van Abbemuseum and DAI: