The People United Will Never Be Defeated - Exhibition

19.02 – 18.04, 2010
Opening 19.02, 2010 20.00 h

BAVO, Joep Bertrams, Marc Bijl, Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson,
Domenique Himmelsbach de Vries, Iratxe Jaio & Klaas van Gorkum,
Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta, Sjoerd Oudman,
Fernando Sánchez Castillo, Jack Segbars, Jonas Staal.

From 19 February to 18 April, TENT. presents the group exhibition The People United Will Never Be Defeated. A topical exhibition around the municipal elections of 3 March 2010, in which the relationships between art and politics are critically examined. Artists have long been aware of the social implications of their work. Politicians also frequently talk about the role of art in society. A certain form of social engagement can after all be found in almost every work of art. In The People United Will Never Be Defeated it is, however, not about art demonstrating its engagement. The focus is on artists who emphatically, and explicitly, raise the issue of the political system: the voting, the speechmaking, the campaigns, the meetings, the decisions. By getting close to the politician they enter into dialogue with the established order.

New and existing works; videos, drawings, installations
In the space-filling installation ‘Politiek Kunstbezit’ (Political Art Collection), Jonas Staal (1981) brings together works from the parliamentary chambers of the political parties in Rotterdam. Thus, the public can consider the meaning of art & culture from a political context. Filmmaker Rob Schröder (195o) interviewed the political parties about their art collections. This documentary is incorporated into the installation by Staal. Sjoerd Oudman (1982) composed a campaign song for all the political parties. Iratxe Jaio (1976) and Klaas van Gorkum (1975) swapped six campaign billboards in the centre of Rotterdam for their own new billboards. This intervention and the reactions of the public during the election period were recorded on video and will be shown in the exhibition. From an information stand, BAVO, consisting of Gideon Boie (1975) and Matthias Pauwels (1975), offer advice on the artists’ position in society and how to improve it. Jack Segbars (1963) made a video report of his trip to Israel / Palestine. In a video installation he shows that the impressions he gained were often conspicuously different than the images and information that we are familiar with. Marc Bijl (197o) made a mural especially for and in TENT., in which a political statement has the central role. In the video work Lobbyists Libia Castro (1969) & Ólafur Ólafsson (1973) portray lobbyists during their work at the European Parliament. The video uses different genres and is both a documentary and a music video. Fernando Sánchez Castillo (197o) makes a new work, which focuses on important figures in European political history. Political cartoonist Joep Bertrams (1946) is invited to present a selection of his drawings made for the Parool newspaper. Several years ago, Tellervo Kalleinen (1975) and Oliver Kochta (1971) started their project Complaints Choir, in which they appeal to the inhabitants of a city to gather together their complaints and to sing them in this choir. TENT. shows an installation of the project and the Rotterdam Complaints Choir will sing in the exhibition space on 3 March. The video work by Domenique Himmelsbach de Vries (1983) (previously selected for the TENT. Academy Awards) gives a penetrating account of how reason alternates with emotion in the voting for the Netherlands’ most controversial politician Geert Wilders. The title of the exhibition refers to a Chilean protest song from the nineteen seventies: “El Pueblo Unido jamas sera Vincendo” by Sergio Ortego. This was a period in which many Chilean artists fled to Europe and Rotterdam. And in the years that followed they expressed their political protests on the walls in the heart of the port city.

The motivation for the exhibition is the essay Post-Propaganda (published by Fonds BKVB) by Jonas Staal, with which he aims to further the discussion on art and politics. On Staal’s invitation, Klaas van Gorkum and Iratxe Jaio, BAVO and Sjoerd Oudman have all produced new works in the public domain in Rotterdam.