Witte de With: The World Turned Inside Out

Rotterdam, NL
Defne Ayas, Witte de With
Type: Exhibition Architecture

  • Commissioned by Defne Ayas, Witte de With.
  • Program conceived by Defne Ayas, and developed together with Amira Gad and Virginie Bobin.
  • Contributions by Julieta Aranda, Kader Attia, Aslı Çavuşoğlu, Roberto Chabet, Shezad Dawood, Deirdre Donoghue, Bonita Ely, Natasha Ginwala, Rana Hamadeh, Tzu Nyen Ho, Bauke Knottnerus, Irene Kopelman, Claartje Lindhout, Jennifer Wen Ma, Tejal Shah, Lawrence Weiner, TerueYamauchi, and Vivian Ziherl.

Witte de With: World turned Inside Out

  • Exhibition Designed by Studio Miessen
  • Project Leader: Markus Miessen, Diogo Passarinho
  • Team: Yulia Startsev
  • Production Team: Paul Van Gennip
  • Spatial Observation by Studio Miessen

Drafting from unexpected maps and courses of knowledge, and reactivating pre-modern anchors, Witte de With enables the development of artistic practices in collaboration with a set of international protagonists who, by linking and delinking across fields, seek to debunk historical narratives guided by traditional educational models. These investigations set in motion new paths of inquiry respectively, replete with desire, curiosity, and speculation.

On 25 May 2013 The World Turned Inside Out began with a dynamic series of seven events taking place at Witte de With throughout the summer and orchestrated by the program’s protagonists and their guests from the fields of the arts, academia and science. Continuing into the Fall of 2013, lines of inquiry were extended into the curatorial, educational and online publishing activities of Witte de With, and culminated with the establishment of a collaborative network of partner organizations, both in Rotterdam and throughout the world.

Julieta Aranda tries to understand the nature of ‘exotic matter,’ by way of transhistorical apples – objects that both define us as beings capable of acquiring knowledge and that represent our material state: bound to the world… Ho Tzu Nyen follows the millenary cosmo-ecological path of the mythical Malayan Tiger, which continues to haunt South East Asia colonial and communist histories.

Also stretching times and geographies, Landings (curators Natasha Ginwala and Vivian Ziherl) survey the mangrove as an ‘in-between’ place that becomes a motif to conceive modes of unauthentic belonging and extra-territoriality, extending its recent launch event at Witte de With: Imperial Pastoral: On Constructions of Rurality. Landings will initiate a conversation with Rana Hamadeh and present works by Roberto Chabet (courtesy of the Asia Art Archive), Bonita Ely, Rana Hamadeh, Irene Kopelman, Tejal Shah, Lawrence Weiner and Terue Yamauchi, along with photographic materials from the Tropenmuseum (Amsterdam) and the North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum (Dunwich). Jennifer Wen Ma contemplates the various occurrences of the Garden of Eden, from Western medieval paintings to Chinese and Middle-Eastern mythologies, inviting a Kunqu opera singer to voice the utopian projections of lost paradises. Kader Attia observes the construction of evil through the unfolding of the colonial gaze in the pages of early twentieth-century printed matter. Riffing on science-fiction and anthropological concepts of indigenousness, non-linear time, and the politics of language, Shezad Dawood embarks on fictional journeys towards a ´possible film´that stages encounters with the mystical. Aslı Çavuşoğlu drifts into the depths of lapis lazuli’s ancient blue, linking the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan with Witte de With, in her search for delirium, absentness and the intangibility of the sky.

Studio Miessen provides The World Turned Inside Out with a spatial framework that proposes a space of assembly to generate an ongoing reinterpretation of the material on display, including readings, rehearsals, screenings as well as archival installations. The spatial set-up draws inspiration from ancient archeological sites, where images, symbols, icons, artworks and other objects of curiosity offer insights into the protagonists’ inquiries.

Working in parallel with the on-site activities of Witte de With, an ancient site in the Danish forest of Lilla Hareskov will become a stage for the launch of new lines of inquiry by Deirdre M. Donoghue. The artist reflects on the maternal figure as a thinker and a producer of knowledge, rather than as a subject of representation and as a domestic figure inseparable from human emotions.

In the company of these protagonists, Witte de With continues to be a mediating agent for artists and thinkers with the aim to upset linear narratives of knowledge with the ambition that art will turn the world inside out.

As The World Turned Inside Out established a growing network of interlocutors from the arts, humanities and politics which shifted away from familiar twentieth century references to instigate another mindset -one that reflects on the diversity of materials, cultures, religions and histories, and puts them into work through public talks, live events, film premieres, and performances.