Exhibition

10 February–15 April 2018

Matthijs de Bruijne: Compromiso Político

Also featuring works by Jeremy Deller, Piero Gilardi, and Mierle Laderman Ukeles

Opening: 10 February 2018, 17.00

  • Installation photo exhibition Matthijs de Bruijne: Compromiso Político at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2018. Photo: Tom Janssen

  • Matthijs de Bruijne, Liquidacion.org, 2005, installation photo exhibition Matthijs de Bruijne: Compromiso Político at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2018. Photo: Tom Janssen

  • Matthijs de Bruijne, El Comedor, 2005, installation photo exhibition Matthijs de Bruijne: Compromiso Político at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2018. Photo: Tom Janssen

  • 2. Matthijs de Bruijne with Detour (Marnix de Klerk and Nina Mathijsen), Het Afvalmuseum, 2011, installation photo exhibition Matthijs de Bruijne: Compromiso Político at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2018. Photo: Tom Janssen

  • Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Touch Sanitation Performance, 1979–1980, installation photo exhibition Matthijs de Bruijne: Compromiso Político at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2018. Photo: Tom Janssen

  • Jeremy Deller, Hello, today you have day off (wording of text message sent to a worker on a zero hours contract informing him his labour would not be required that day); Piero Gilardi, Masso della Crisi, 2012–2017. Installation photo exhibition Matthijs de Bruijne: Compromiso Político at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2018. Photo: Tom Janssen

  • Matthijs de Bruijne, Dependance Buenos Aires, 2005, installation photo exhibition Matthijs de Bruijne: Compromiso Político at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2018. Photo: Tom Janssen

At BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht we are proud to announce Matthijs de Bruijne: Compromiso Político, the first exhibition in our new venue. The exhibition features works by De Bruijne as well as Jeremy Deller, Piero Gilardi, and Mierle Laderman Ukeles. It takes place in a makeshift environment amid the renovation of our building, so that we share the experience of transformation with the public.

De Bruijne persistently challenges the borders of the art field with process-based, multi-authored, politico-artistic experiments. For more than fifteen years, he has negotiated his artistic practice in a variety of social contexts, and engaged in long-term collaborations with social movements, groups, and organizations outside of the traditional art institutions. Following his work in Argentina (early 2000s) and China (2007–2008), De Bruijne began a major long-term collaboration with the Union of Cleaners of the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV). A large part of Matthijs de Bruijne: Compromiso Político is dedicated to this cooperation (2011–ongoing), analyzing ways of bringing together art and social struggles, and searching for connections between artistic practice and grassroots political organizing in the underlying commonalities of precarity; forms of representation and protest; and desire for new images and imaginaries that work toward social justice.

The title of the exhibition—Compromiso Político—proposes to circumvent the English-language idiom “socially engaged art” and the compromises that it often ends up with when such art circulates languages and forms of social struggle almost exclusively in the realm of the artistic canon. Compromiso, in Spanish, means a commitment and obligation; a commitment to both politics and art. De Bruijne explains, “a compromiso político is a way of acting toward the same political goal and working together as part of both the movement and the institution of art.” It is quite opposed to the vrijblijvendheid of socially engaged art, as De Bruijne continues, in which “vrij means free and blijvend means to stay: to stay free, to stay loose; without obligation.”

The works by Deller, Gilardi, and Laderman Ukeles expand the exhibition in various directions. Gilardi’s works examine the notion of protest and how artists can shape its potentiality. Deller delves into the present-day phenomenon of the zero-hour contract, positioning it as a new barbarization of labor. Laderman Ukeles’s Touch Sanitation (1979–1980) reflects on the years she spent as an artist-in-residence at the New York Department of Sanitation. This work in particular is critical in De Bruijne’s genealogy, as it addresses the common space of cleaners, domestic workers, and artists as one of care, where the power relations that dominate life can be imagined and embodied differently.

A screening program of artists’ films complements Matthijs de Bruijne: Compromiso Político every Saturday and Sunday during the exhibition (except for 17 March and 1 April), from 14.–17.00 hrs in BAK’s auditorium. The program features De Bruijne’s film Het Museum van De Straat (The Museum of The Street, 2013); historical documentation of Laderman Ukeles’s performances Touch Sanitation (1979–1980), New York, and Vuilniswagendans (Garbage Truck Dance, 1985), Rotterdam; and Deller’s musical documentary Promotional Film for All that is Solid Melts into Air (2014). Entrance for any screening is free to those who have paid entrance to the exhibition.

Texts by artist Graciela Carnevale, researcher and NGO worker Lin Zhibin, and a conversation between the president and vice president of the Union of Cleaners of the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) Khadija Hyati en Tim Edwards—De Bruijne’s collaborators on various projects—are available in the exhibition.

In addition, our Utrecht-based media partner Stranded FM—Unconventional Online Radio is dedicating on-air time to the exhibition. On 16 February from 18.–20.00 hrs, De Bruijne’s audio piece Radio Den Dolder (2004) will broadcast with an introduction and curated music selection, 10 Porciones (10 Servings), by the artist. On 24 January from 15.–16.00 hrs, the artist and BAK’s curator Matteo Lucchetti discuss the exhibition live. To follow these events or listen to the recordings, please visit www.stranded.fm or Stranded FM’s Facebook page.

Throughout the duration of the exhibition, the Union of Cleaners of the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) uses the site for gatherings.

This exhibition is curated by BAK’s curator Matteo Lucchetti.

We are grateful to Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Inc., New York and Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht for their help with this exhibition. Thanks also to The Modern Institute, Glasgow, and Fondazione Centro Studi Piero Gilardi, Turin.

Matthijs de Bruijne: Compromiso Político is part of the long-term research trajectory Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–2020).

The realization of this project has been made possible through financial contributions by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the City Council, Utrecht.

Download the press release

Made possible by

Suggestions from the archive

Discursive

18 October 2018–24 January 2019

Propositions #7: Evidentiary Methods

Propositions #7: Evidentiary Methods—the public program in the context of the exhibition Forensic Justice and part of the BAK series Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–2020)—expands upon the notion of forensic justice in a series of lectures, screenings, and workshops on methodologies for articulating claims within the multidimensional space of aesthetics, law, architecture, politics, and ecology.

Exhibition

18 October 2018–27 January 2019

Forensic Justice

Forensic Justice is an exhibition and a series of public programs with Forensic Architecture, a London-based independent and interdisciplinary research agency comprised of, among others, artists, scientists, lawyers, filmmakers, and architects.

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture

Exhibition

Lecture

Lecture Program

Discursive, Exhibition, Publication

11 January–01 March 2009

The Return of Religion and Other Myths

The Return of Religion and Other Myths is a large-scale multifaceted project, consisting of the exhibition The Art of Iconoclasm, a discourse program taking place in early 2009 titled On Post-Secularism, and the publication of a BAK Critical Reader on the subject in 2009. The project explores the popular assumption of the return of religion to the public sphere, contemporary politics, and the media in the West as a constitutive “myth.”

Lecture

Learning

10 February–31 March 2009

Curating (Beyond) Exhibitions: Critical Curatorial Practices and Contemporary Society

Master course organized by Utrecht University and BAK. The course, structured as a series of lectures and seminars, explores the dynamic field of curating vis-ŕ-vis the challenges that artistic and intellectual practices are presented with by contemporary society, and takes the year 1989—which marks the end of the Cold War—as a starting point from which to explore the practice of curating.