Opening Session of the foundational process of INSTAR – Instituto de Artivismo Hannah Arendt (May 20 – May 24, 2015) – video documentation

09.09.2016 – 31.12.2016 / Tue-Sun: 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Witte de Withstraat 50. Rotterdam, Netherlands

In the Belly of the Whale


Advancing American Art (1946-47), Minia Biabiany, Broomberg & Chanarin, Tania Bruguera, Mariana Castillo Deball, Jean Martin Charcot, Paul Ekman, Hamza Halloubi, Emily Jacir, Käthe Kollwitz, Susanne Kriemann, Britta Marakatt Labba, Pratchaya Phinthong, Jeremy Shaw, Amie Siegel, Charles Thomson Rees Wilson, Van Abbemuseum


Natasha Hoare, Adam Kleinman

Drawing from the story of Jonah and the whale — in which the prophet’s resolve is galvanized while meditating within the belly of the great beast that swallowed him whole — this group exhibition focuses on what it means to be immersed within social histories, and how objects and persons can be transformed through mental and spiritual rumination on context and inscription.

Foregrounding projection, reception, and provenance, artworks, artifacts, and their passage through time and narrative discourses are played off the figure of the cloud chamber—an early twentieth-century device that used water vapor to trace the movement of subatomic particles, laying the ground for the study of particle physics by photographing the patterns these movements produced. Alluding to the cloud chamber’s ability to trace movement and transformation, the works exhibited are ‘objects’ caught in motion, images whose trajectories operate to articulate power structures, official histories and legacies, and other forms of often hidden epistemological acts of violence.

Like fragments or links in a larger system, the collected works here offer perspectives with which to bounce aesthetic concerns against the social environment in which they were birthed or later received. Several works question how artifacts reflect their settings by asking how an object is altered through its changing contexts of display, while others query how an object can alternatively affect reality itself. Eschewing a neat synthesis, this exhibition instead parallels the sense of investigation from within.

Throughout the Fall of 2016, Witte de With invites several guests to give readings into the methodologies and choices on display.