1
The Responsive W is a proposal for a scenography to be executed in the exhibition Prospects & Concepts. The proposal consists of zig-zag black marks in a white space. From a conceptual point of view, I am interested in this scenography because it’s deceptively simple. What looks like walls are actually pieces of branding, that fit precisely into the void left by fictional artworks. I immediately pictured over 60 artists using, relocating and rotating the objects to highlight their individual requirements, and at the same time, create a shared element. Inspiration for the design comes from the graphic identity of the Whitney Museum in New York.

The Responsive W is a proposal for a scenography to be executed in the exhibition Prospects & Concepts. The proposal consists of zig-zag black marks in a white space. From a conceptual point of view, I am interested in this scenography because it’s deceptively simple. What looks like walls are actually pieces of branding, that fit precisely into the void left by fictional artworks. I immediately pictured over 60 artists using, relocating and rotating the objects to highlight their individual requirements, and at the same time, create a shared element. Inspiration for the design comes from the graphic identity of the Whitney Museum in New York.

When Experimental jetset released the graphic identity in 2013, they noted that it was unlike most of their projects in the sense that they would not be designing the museum’s output. Graphic designers would follow their instructions to create posters and invitations. Experimental Jetset expressed their hopes that future designers working with the graphic identity they developed for them, would be able to use it as a platform for their own authorship, and to leave their fingerprint within it. After all, a graphic identity could and should never be a machine in which one simply inputs a title and an image, and out rolls an invitation. It will always be human process, in which the aesthetic and conceptual decisions made by the graphic designer play an essential role, a role that can never be skipped or erased.

Hey, I wondered whether this ruleset could be transformed into something spatial, something in which an infinite amount of fingerprints could be left behind, but unfortunately, the proposal was rejected by the curator of the show.

M
Het Mondriaan Fonds organiseert de tentoonstelling Prospects & Concepts jaarlijks om de zichtbaarheid van beginnende beeldend kunstenaars een extra impuls te geven. Door de gelijktijdigheid met Art Rotterdam krijgen kunstprofessionals en verzamelaars maar ook een brede groep geïnteresseerden de mogelijkheid met het werk van talentvolle kunstenaars kennis te maken. Kunstenaars die eerder aan de tentoonstelling deelnamen ontvingen vaak positieve respons wat kon leiden tot aankopen, aanbiedingen van galleries, uitnodigingen voor tentoonstellingen, opdrachten en andere interessante contacten. Bovendien is de tentoonstelling ook op te vatten als een openbare verantwoording voor de werkwijze van het Mondriaan Fonds. Bij de tentoonstelling wordt ook een publicatie gemaakt en een publieksprogramma georganiseerd.

2
Initially, Experimental Jetset’s only wanted to give the Whitney museum a set of five instructions in return for their money:

1. divide the available area in four successive parts
2. draw a line in the first space, from the left upper corner to the right bottom corner
3. draw a line in the second space, from the left bottom corner to the right upper corner 4. draw a line in the third space, from the left upper corner to the right bottom corner
5. draw a line in the fourth space, from the left bottom corner to the right upper corner

When you invited me to think about a scenographic intervention in the exhibition, I thought along these black lines, and I had to think of an excerpt in the documentation provided on the Whitney’s W: the white background represents nothing. The black mark represents something. It’s the clearest expression of mankind leaving traces in a given environment and thereby irreversibly altering this environment. And, as it happens, the zig-zag also resembles a capital M.

As a visitor of the exhibition, I wonder why white walls are still the point of departure when it comes to showing upcoming artists. Therefore the proposal I sent you consists of black marks. Because of their flexible nature and modular design, the black marks can be used to form an alternative for the workspace that was part of previous editions of the exhibition. The workspace represents the idea of process, of art in its raw state. It’s presented as an addition, secondary to the main programme. But in an exhibition like this, who decides on the hierarchy between primary and secondary architecture?

M
Graag informeer ik je dat de hal heel hoog is (goed om rekening mee te houden i.v.m. de akoestiek) en de kleur van de wanden wordt betongrijs.

3
You think it’s catchy, the part where I question white walls for the presentation of upcoming artists. It resonates with your plans to paint all the walls of the exhibition grey, to match the floors. Contrary to previous curators in your position, you are emphasising that this exhibition is not part of the fair but an exhibition in the same building. But painting the walls is a big commitment. Are you committing to the articulation of an alternative for the gallery and the art market?

I have given this subject a lot of thought and I am curious about your findings, because I know that it can be difficult to negotiate between demands and interests.

Because both for artists and for curators, negotiating is an interesting game. The level of success, for any negotiator, depends on your ability and willingness to walk way and take another deal. Before arriving at the bargaining table, wise negotiators spend significant time identifying their best alternative to a negotiated agreement, and take steps to improve it. Secondly, it’s important for negotiations to acknowledge difficulties. Difficult feelings, like frustration, might be behind the message without you knowing.

I also learned that people in negotiations sometimes bet about how future events will unfold. For example, if you doubt that someone can finish the job in let’s say three months, you can agree on a penalty for late completion or reward for early completion. If they truly believe their claims, they should have no problem accepting such terms.

Now I am thinking about the penalties and rewards curators and artists could establish among themselves whenever one of them or both are unable to uphold their parts of the agreement. After all, a committee of experts decided that the following applies to my work:

M
“de artistieke prestaties van de kunstenaar zullen zich naar verwachting ontwikkelen tot een betekenisvolle bijdrage aan de hedendaagse beeldende kunst in Nederland. Belangrijk daarbij is de samenhang tussen de artistieke uitgangspunten van de kunstenaar en de wijze waarop deze tot uitdrukking komen in het werk. Daarbij kan onder andere worden gekeken naar de inhoudelijke betekenis van het concept, de verbeeldingskracht van de kunstenaar en de beheersing van de gekozen middelen. Verder wordt bekeken hoe werk en opvattingen zich verhouden tot de historische en actuele context”.

So if we thought of these terms as mutual promises, could you still decline my proposal?

M
De opbouwperiode is kort en het aantal deelnemers is erg groot (67 kunstenaars). De inrichting van de tentoonstelling wordt gedaan door de curator. Op haar aanwijzingen wordt het installeren van de werken verzorgd door een professionele hangploeg van het Mondriaan Fonds. Zij zullen daarbij zo veel mogelijk rekening houden met jullie technische instructies die je op het bruikleenformulier kunt aangeven.

4
While you were talking, I was thinking. I was thinking about the consequences of this plot twist. First I thought that it made my proposal irrelevant, because it was based on black marks in a white space. You know, the white background represents nothing, the black mark represents something. I’m not sure what grey represents, but I guess it must be the space in between nothing and something. Both absent and present, at the same time. White is unsaid. Black is a statement. Grey is a statement unsaid.

But who is looking for a statement here anyway? You explained that an art fair is not the right environment for a meta perspective. The audience will be overwhelmed by an overdose of information and it won’t be understood or valued.

So we settle on a form that both of us are pleased with. You call it an artist talk. You’re happy because my position in the exhibition is finally settled. And I’m happy because it opens up new possibilities for my proposal. Moving forward, the exhibition is finally taking shape and everybody starts to think about the final form. So much so that from this moment on, we never speak again.

M
Hierbij stuur ik je informatie over de catalogus die zal verschijnen bij Prospects & Concepts 2019. Alle deelnemers krijgen daarin 1 afbeelding en een door een kunsthistoricus geschreven korte tekst over het (getoonde) werk. Deze tekst krijg je te lezen voor het naar de ontwerpers gaat. De curator zal een inleidende tekst schrijven.

Een enigszins ruime selectie is fijn, zodat de ontwerpers iets te kiezen hebben.

Art historian
Brenda Tempelaar kijkt met een filosofische blik naar de kunstwereld. Ze onderzoekt wat mensen als vanzelfsprekend accepteren en voor waar aannemen en trekt die aannames in haar werk in twijfel. Daarbij richt ze zich vooral op de plekken waarin kunst wordt tentoongesteld en de manier waarop die betekenis geven aan objecten. Die betekenis kan beïnvloed worden door de locatie of de opbouw van een tentoonstelling, door het beleid of de typografie van een instelling, door de manier waarop werk wordt gearchiveerd of bijvoorbeeld door de software die wordt gebruikt in museum-apps. ‘Mijn doel is om twijfel te veroorzaken, door zowel kritisch als poëtisch te zijn. Ik geloof dat die twijfel nodig is om nieuwe perspectieven te vinden op de veranderlijkheid van tentoonstellingsruimtes, kunstwerken, geschiedenis, innovatie, kunstenaars, curatoren en publiek.’ Voor Tempelaar zijn kunsttentoonstellingen en kunstpublicaties dan ook belangrijke media om op te reflecteren. Haar werk op Prospects & Concepts is een lezing en video-rendering waarin ze de huisstijl, met name de grafische lijn van de letter W, analyseert die het ontwerpcollectief Experimental Jetset ontwierp voor het Whitney Museum in New York. De ontwerpers van Experimental Jetset lieten zich inspireren door een tekst van Donna De Salvo, chief curator en deputy Director for Programs in het Whitney Museum of American Art: “It would be much easier to present the history of art as a simplistic line – but that’s not the Whitney”. This sentence immediately conjured up an image, a shape. It also begged the question: if the history of art should not be seen as a simplistic, straight line – then how should it be seen instead?[…]”

5
It’s funny how the art historian’s description of The Responsive W focusses on the analysis of the graphic line, which is interesting but not really the point. The point is that I wanted to make a mark.

To visualise that in the exhibition catalogue, I’m browsing a folder called 2018_Responsive_W. Subfolders contain a combined total of over 20.000 rendered JPEGs. The option of forwarding it to the designers, entirely, crosses my mind. It’s truly remarkable, the amount of people involved in the artistic choices to be made prior to this moment. As if everybody’s fingerprint is already on the proposal before it’s even executed.


1
The Responsive W is a proposal for a scenography to be executed in the exhibition Prospects & Concepts. The proposal consists of zig-zag black marks in a white space. From a conceptual point of view, I am interested in this scenography because it’s deceptively simple. What looks like walls are actually pieces of branding, that fit precisely into the void left by fictional artworks. I immediately pictured over 60 artists using, relocating and rotating the objects to highlight their individual requirements, and at the same time, create a shared element. Inspiration for the design comes from the graphic identity of the Whitney Museum in New York.

The Responsive W is a proposal for a scenography to be executed in the exhibition Prospects & Concepts. The proposal consists of zig-zag black marks in a white space. From a conceptual point of view, I am interested in this scenography because it’s deceptively simple. What looks like walls are actually pieces of branding, that fit precisely into the void left by fictional artworks. I immediately pictured over 60 artists using, relocating and rotating the objects to highlight their individual requirements, and at the same time, create a shared element. Inspiration for the design comes from the graphic identity of the Whitney Museum in New York.

When Experimental jetset released the graphic identity in 2013, they noted that it was unlike most of their projects in the sense that they would not be designing the museum’s output. Graphic designers would follow their instructions to create posters and invitations. Experimental Jetset expressed their hopes that future designers working with the graphic identity they developed for them, would be able to use it as a platform for their own authorship, and to leave their fingerprint within it. After all, a graphic identity could and should never be a machine in which one simply inputs a title and an image, and out rolls an invitation. It will always be human process, in which the aesthetic and conceptual decisions made by the graphic designer play an essential role, a role that can never be skipped or erased.

Hey, I wondered whether this ruleset could be transformed into something spatial, something in which an infinite amount of fingerprints could be left behind, but unfortunately, the proposal was rejected by the curator of the show.

M
Het Mondriaan Fonds organiseert de tentoonstelling Prospects & Concepts jaarlijks om de zichtbaarheid van beginnende beeldend kunstenaars een extra impuls te geven. Door de gelijktijdigheid met Art Rotterdam krijgen kunstprofessionals en verzamelaars maar ook een brede groep geïnteresseerden de mogelijkheid met het werk van talentvolle kunstenaars kennis te maken. Kunstenaars die eerder aan de tentoonstelling deelnamen ontvingen vaak positieve respons wat kon leiden tot aankopen, aanbiedingen van galleries, uitnodigingen voor tentoonstellingen, opdrachten en andere interessante contacten. Bovendien is de tentoonstelling ook op te vatten als een openbare verantwoording voor de werkwijze van het Mondriaan Fonds. Bij de tentoonstelling wordt ook een publicatie gemaakt en een publieksprogramma georganiseerd.

2
Initially, Experimental Jetset’s only wanted to give the Whitney museum a set of five instructions in return for their money:

1. divide the available area in four successive parts
2. draw a line in the first space, from the left upper corner to the right bottom corner
3. draw a line in the second space, from the left bottom corner to the right upper corner 4. draw a line in the third space, from the left upper corner to the right bottom corner
5. draw a line in the fourth space, from the left bottom corner to the right upper corner

When you invited me to think about a scenographic intervention in the exhibition, I thought along these black lines, and I had to think of an excerpt in the documentation provided on the Whitney’s W: the white background represents nothing. The black mark represents something. It’s the clearest expression of mankind leaving traces in a given environment and thereby irreversibly altering this environment. And, as it happens, the zig-zag also resembles a capital M.

As a visitor of the exhibition, I wonder why white walls are still the point of departure when it comes to showing upcoming artists. Therefore the proposal I sent you consists of black marks. Because of their flexible nature and modular design, the black marks can be used to form an alternative for the workspace that was part of previous editions of the exhibition. The workspace represents the idea of process, of art in its raw state. It’s presented as an addition, secondary to the main programme. But in an exhibition like this, who decides on the hierarchy between primary and secondary architecture?

M
Graag informeer ik je dat de hal heel hoog is (goed om rekening mee te houden i.v.m. de akoestiek) en de kleur van de wanden wordt betongrijs.

3
You think it’s catchy, the part where I question white walls for the presentation of upcoming artists. It resonates with your plans to paint all the walls of the exhibition grey, to match the floors. Contrary to previous curators in your position, you are emphasising that this exhibition is not part of the fair but an exhibition in the same building. But painting the walls is a big commitment. Are you committing to the articulation of an alternative for the gallery and the art market?

I have given this subject a lot of thought and I am curious about your findings, because I know that it can be difficult to negotiate between demands and interests.

Because both for artists and for curators, negotiating is an interesting game. The level of success, for any negotiator, depends on your ability and willingness to walk way and take another deal. Before arriving at the bargaining table, wise negotiators spend significant time identifying their best alternative to a negotiated agreement, and take steps to improve it. Secondly, it’s important for negotiations to acknowledge difficulties. Difficult feelings, like frustration, might be behind the message without you knowing.

I also learned that people in negotiations sometimes bet about how future events will unfold. For example, if you doubt that someone can finish the job in let’s say three months, you can agree on a penalty for late completion or reward for early completion. If they truly believe their claims, they should have no problem accepting such terms.

Now I am thinking about the penalties and rewards curators and artists could establish among themselves whenever one of them or both are unable to uphold their parts of the agreement. After all, a committee of experts decided that the following applies to my work:

M
“de artistieke prestaties van de kunstenaar zullen zich naar verwachting ontwikkelen tot een betekenisvolle bijdrage aan de hedendaagse beeldende kunst in Nederland. Belangrijk daarbij is de samenhang tussen de artistieke uitgangspunten van de kunstenaar en de wijze waarop deze tot uitdrukking komen in het werk. Daarbij kan onder andere worden gekeken naar de inhoudelijke betekenis van het concept, de verbeeldingskracht van de kunstenaar en de beheersing van de gekozen middelen. Verder wordt bekeken hoe werk en opvattingen zich verhouden tot de historische en actuele context”.

So if we thought of these terms as mutual promises, could you still decline my proposal?

M
De opbouwperiode is kort en het aantal deelnemers is erg groot (67 kunstenaars). De inrichting van de tentoonstelling wordt gedaan door de curator. Op haar aanwijzingen wordt het installeren van de werken verzorgd door een professionele hangploeg van het Mondriaan Fonds. Zij zullen daarbij zo veel mogelijk rekening houden met jullie technische instructies die je op het bruikleenformulier kunt aangeven.

4
While you were talking, I was thinking. I was thinking about the consequences of this plot twist. First I thought that it made my proposal irrelevant, because it was based on black marks in a white space. You know, the white background represents nothing, the black mark represents something. I’m not sure what grey represents, but I guess it must be the space in between nothing and something. Both absent and present, at the same time. White is unsaid. Black is a statement. Grey is a statement unsaid.

But who is looking for a statement here anyway? You explained that an art fair is not the right environment for a meta perspective. The audience will be overwhelmed by an overdose of information and it won’t be understood or valued.

So we settle on a form that both of us are pleased with. You call it an artist talk. You’re happy because my position in the exhibition is finally settled. And I’m happy because it opens up new possibilities for my proposal. Moving forward, the exhibition is finally taking shape and everybody starts to think about the final form. So much so that from this moment on, we never speak again.

M
Hierbij stuur ik je informatie over de catalogus die zal verschijnen bij Prospects & Concepts 2019. Alle deelnemers krijgen daarin 1 afbeelding en een door een kunsthistoricus geschreven korte tekst over het (getoonde) werk. Deze tekst krijg je te lezen voor het naar de ontwerpers gaat. De curator zal een inleidende tekst schrijven.

Een enigszins ruime selectie is fijn, zodat de ontwerpers iets te kiezen hebben.

Art historian
Brenda Tempelaar kijkt met een filosofische blik naar de kunstwereld. Ze onderzoekt wat mensen als vanzelfsprekend accepteren en voor waar aannemen en trekt die aannames in haar werk in twijfel. Daarbij richt ze zich vooral op de plekken waarin kunst wordt tentoongesteld en de manier waarop die betekenis geven aan objecten. Die betekenis kan beïnvloed worden door de locatie of de opbouw van een tentoonstelling, door het beleid of de typografie van een instelling, door de manier waarop werk wordt gearchiveerd of bijvoorbeeld door de software die wordt gebruikt in museum-apps. ‘Mijn doel is om twijfel te veroorzaken, door zowel kritisch als poëtisch te zijn. Ik geloof dat die twijfel nodig is om nieuwe perspectieven te vinden op de veranderlijkheid van tentoonstellingsruimtes, kunstwerken, geschiedenis, innovatie, kunstenaars, curatoren en publiek.’ Voor Tempelaar zijn kunsttentoonstellingen en kunstpublicaties dan ook belangrijke media om op te reflecteren. Haar werk op Prospects & Concepts is een lezing en video-rendering waarin ze de huisstijl, met name de grafische lijn van de letter W, analyseert die het ontwerpcollectief Experimental Jetset ontwierp voor het Whitney Museum in New York. De ontwerpers van Experimental Jetset lieten zich inspireren door een tekst van Donna De Salvo, chief curator en deputy Director for Programs in het Whitney Museum of American Art: “It would be much easier to present the history of art as a simplistic line – but that’s not the Whitney”. This sentence immediately conjured up an image, a shape. It also begged the question: if the history of art should not be seen as a simplistic, straight line – then how should it be seen instead?[...]”

5
It’s funny how the art historian’s description of The Responsive W focusses on the analysis of the graphic line, which is interesting but not really the point. The point is that I wanted to make a mark.

To visualise that in the exhibition catalogue, I’m browsing a folder called 2018_Responsive_W. Subfolders contain a combined total of over 20.000 rendered JPEGs. The option of forwarding it to the designers, entirely, crosses my mind. It’s truly remarkable, the amount of people involved in the artistic choices to be made prior to this moment. As if everybody’s fingerprint is already on the proposal before it’s even executed.