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Rotterdam: Goshka Macuga

September 8, 2017 - December 31, 2017

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam logo




This exhibition is the result of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art’s pairing of Goshka Macuga and Ahmet Öğüt. Both artists’ interests are tied to political and historical contexts, distilled through a variety of media and strategies of representation that include performance, participatory event, sculpture, film, and installation. Macuga and Öğüt began a conversation, and through a series of coincidences identified parallel references drawn from their shared social concerns, personal stories, and the ideas driving their respective practices, such as their mutual investment in collaboration and interest in the representation of critical thinkers in the global imaginary. Such references mark the point of departure for a two-part exhibition – the first steered by Ahmet Öğüt (17 June – 20 August), with the second part to follow in fall with Goshka Macuga (8 September – 31 December).  Both artists examine each other’s practices, a process subject to misinformation and misunderstandings along the way, as much as a generosity of ideas, commitment of time, and peer-to-peer play.

Early on in their exchange, Macuga proposed to take up the notions of destruction and ‘sudden change’ to be played out upon the pair’s work using the exhibition space as test-site, as a means to explore processes of reconstruction. With The Show is Over, Macuga sets out to question how far destruction can work to critique, protest, and confront the present cultural predicament and builds on a rich heritage of artists that have engaged with the gesture of destruction both as subject, concept, and process over the years. In the face of the recent surge of culture wars as well as right-wing agendas that have come to dominate the political landscape, what can be gained by enlisting destruction for social critique but also anarchic, pointless destruction; destruction for the pure pleasure of it? – as posed by Russell Ferguson in his paper The Show is Over (2014), after which the exhibition is named. Further, how far may destruction be invoked to challenge the perceived stability of art and its institutions through transformative processes of shattering, hijacking, and undoing in order to engage in reinvention? In such an exercise, the pair’s work and working relationship is challenged, manifested as, and through, a gesture of drastic change.