Landscape with Bear explores the Collection (Unintended) of De Appel, composed of artworks, props, and unidentified objects that gathered through chance and subjective decisions. Acknowledging that practices of collecting are part of regimes of knowledge production, the project asks, what kinds of knowledge can emerge from this fragmentary, uncertain and unstable collection. This was explored through a collaborative process between professionals spanning contemporary art, curating, architecture, design and archaeology, who gathered with and alongside the collected objects. Their exchanges culminated in an exhibition, blurring the lines between artworks and display, a performative event, and a book.
Landscape with Bear explores the Collection (Unintended) of De Appel, composed of a group of artworks, props, documents and other objects that have integrated De Appel’s archive, albeit their missing, curious or contradictory stories of provenance. The ‘Unintended’ denomination reflects the fact that De Appel is not a collecting institution. The collection is largely uncatalogued and lacks the hierarchies and narratives typical of museological collections. The ‘unintended’ objects gathered over the course of De Appel’s history, through chance, subjective decisions, and other contingencies. And it was only in 2017 that the ‘things’ were institutionalized as the Collection (Unintended).
Acknowledging that practices of collecting are part of regimes of knowledge production, Landscape with Bear tests what kinds of knowledge can emerge from this fragmentary, uncertain and unstable collection. The collection called for different expertise and perspectives beyond an art historical approach and across disciplinary borders. Thus, the project was developed through a collaborative process between 14 individuals from fields spanning contemporary art, curating, art history, architecture, design and archaeology. During eight months, the group gathered with and alongside the collection’s objects to consider modes of access, and meanings that could be untangled from their correlations.
Their process resulted in an exhibition, which presented items from the collection in a single continuous landscape that blurred the line between artworks, things and display. Alongside works by significant historic figures are those whose authors are unknown and objects of uncertain provenance. These objects rested in cabinets and on shelves repurposed from De Appel’s offices. A poem, fragments of theoretical texts and the noise of the archive filled the spaces as three interwoven audio-narratives. These and other strategies of display suggested the possibility of experiencing the objects not as distant and static entities, but in relation to each other, to the space and to the visitors.
Landscape with Bear also included a presentation, at the Stedelijk Museum, of the commissioned work Synthetic Types, by artist Shen Xin in consultation with archaeologist Miguel John Versluys, which consisted of a performative intervention within the exhibition, that was live-streamed to the Stedelijk’s auditorium. The published book documents and further expands the thinking and exchanges that fueled the project.
Landscape with Bear
De Appel, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Exhibition, 03.05 – 01.06.2019
Alisa Blakeney, Aram Lee, Aude Mgba, Bruno Alves de Almeida, Cookies (Antonio Barone, Alice Grégoire, Federico Martelli & Clément Périssé), Dita Birkenšteina, Fanfare (Lotte Van de Hoef & Freja Kir), Jan Hüskes, Miguel John Versluys, Nikolay Alutin, Shen Xin, Sofía Dourron & Tamar Shafrir.
Photos by Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk, Jimena Gauna & Konstantin Guz, courtesy of De Appel.