Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Future SMBA June 21st, 2016

Openingsspeech Beatrix Ruf – SMBA & Beyond: Public Kick-Off

foto Ernst van DeursenWelcome, everyone, to the Stedelijk Museum. Today is an important day, because today we kick-off the research needed for the repositioning of SMBA, the Stedelijk’s satellite research institute. Although I understand Dutch, I would like to proceed in English, because this is a topic I’d like to go over carefully.  Following our discussion, feel free to speak in either Dutch or English.

I do still not know or have seen everything – as you can imagine – it has been intense inside and outside the Stedelijk in the last year: but I am very exited to be here and exited about the cultural landscape of this city and country.
Amsterdam impresses by the richness of its own cultural complexity and diversity, and the many institutions bringing artists and curators to town at the edge of their beginnings,
I am thinking of Rijksacademie, deAteliers, Sandberg, de Appel and spaces like W139, Pakt, FramerFramed, Kunstverein and many more – many having survived or are surviving shaky times and having adopted to new conditions of the cultural landscape and the “post welfare” conditions we are all working in.

With the research on a new and continued SMBA we want to concentrate and only briefly pause in physical presence of this institution, as beginning of next year we want to start a new space, we want to take SMBA forward as a new format, in the center of our thinking.

We want SMBA to continue its relevance into the future and to be a central voice of today.
Together we want to have everybody here and abroad to be able to experience and get to know this international cultural voices of Amsterdam.

We want to learn from dialogues and add multiple voices to our research
We want to learn more about how to be local in the changed conditions we are living and working in, how we are and want to be global, and what kind of institutional model we want to offer as an additional place to Amsterdam.

We also want to find out how can we be a place, which is open, flexibel and fit to continuously adopt to change in the arts and in society. We want to be used and needed as a public space. We really want to move and change in dialogue.

23 years ago, Museum Fodor voor Amsterdamse Kunst suddenly lost its funding from the city of Amsterdam. After protests from artists, the SMBA arose from a small amount reserved for that function.

(I’ve been told some fighting went on during the discussions about the closing of Fodor. Hopefully we manage today to have rather constructive fights of words….the great thing so is – if that happens – it shows that public institutions like these are emotional places, in the heart of many people… So, yes, we hope for real engagment.)

In the last 23 years, the SMBA has had many identities. It was successively led by Leontine Coelewij and Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen, and in recent years curated by Jelle Bouwhuis.

From a platform for young Amsterdam-based makers and artists, a production house and a breeding ground for local and increasingly international collaborations, it grew into a research center around Global Collaborations.

The Stedelijk was continuously nourished and inspired by the knowledge and networks resulting from SMBA, which were brought into the museum in various ways.
By including artworks from SMBA projects in its collection, or by including then young and relatively unknown artists in the Stedelijk’s exhibition programming. To mention a few of them: Rineke Dijkstra, Aernout Mik, Michael Tedja, Willem de Rooij, and Tino Sehgal. we recently also acquired video works by Tromarama and an installation by Amol Petil.

The relations between SMBA and the Stedelijk Museum were always charged with emotions, SMBA was kind of a self injected and assigned critisism: as a successor to Museum Fodor, as an inquisitive and critical satellite, as a pathfinder for experimental and new policymaking. The changing of ambitions or the relocation of a place mark endings, but always a new beginning as well.

When I started out here, I saw the great accomplishments of this place. In my previous job I closely followed SMBA’s exhibition programming and worked with several artists who have exhibited at SMBA, such as De Rijke/De Rooij. But I also noticed the more vulnerable aspects of this satellite. From the beginning, its financial and organizational frameworks have been less than perfect.
Lack of money has always been an issue. And when SMBA disappeared from the Kunstenplan in 2013, the Stedelijk became financially responsible and SMBA’s budget grew even tighter.
This was around the time of the museum’s re-opening, and the time of the massive budget cuts in the cultural sector. It is thanks to funds such as Ammodo, the Mondriaan Fund and others that systematically support SMBA that the place could even stay open after 2013…

End of last year we made the choice to seriously invest in the satellite institution, and to seek a repositioning of SMBA. It’s become clear to me that things must be arranged better and more sustainably. That is why, together with Ammodo, we’ve decided to investigate how the continuity of SMBA can be safeguarded and how its effects on this city can be still further expanded.

To briefly return to SMBA’s impact on the Stedelijk’s recent policy choices: the Global Collaborations program and Project 1975, both supported by Ammodo, are a key inspiration for the Stedelijk Museum’s course in the coming years. For example, in 2014 Global Collaborations resulted in a three-day conference and a strong awareness that this way of thinking must become anchored within our walls and our minds. Our programming for 2017 around the theme of migration in all its facets is a first result of this.
A clearly focused acquisition policy, thorough research led by Jelle Bouwhuis, and a collaboration with The Silent University are several other early results of this process.

We are acutely aware of the local situation, which often makes things difficult for Amsterdam-based artists. We’re not blind to the shortage of studio space, presentation locations and development centers. We have frequently urged the city government to ensure a long-term investment in the cultural urban infrastructure with regard to locations, controlled rent and the allocation of spaces.

We certainly feel a responsibility in this, but the Stedelijk Museum’s primary assignment is a different one.
Our task is to signal new developments in the field of art, we want to question rather then to confirm.
Our task is also to bring the world beyond our city into it, and to adequately present it.
We engage in and are alert of existing concerns – those that also surfaced in the advice report by the Amsterdam Kunstraad / art council – about differences, relationships and responsibilities between the Stedelijk Museum and smaller presentation spaces in Amsterdam. We want to open a new chapter for the SMBA, and the new institution should play a key part in the closing of gaps and the activation of collaborations.

Today we invited you for a public round to bring your voices and knowledge to our research.

We also invited three curators from diverse contexts, all of them with specific experience in setting up new institutional models in a local context.
We consider them exceptional and are very happy they agreed to work with us.

We are looking a lot forward for them to be thinking with us and the city of Amsterdam to bring extended knowledge to what is found here.

Together with our chief curator Bart van der Heide, with curator Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen and Milou van Vlijmen of Ammodo they will team up in a working group, which will be also continuously open to your input.

Our three foreign experts are: Sophie Goltz, Eungie Joo, Emily Pethik.

Sophie Goltz, (DE) was initiator of the Stadtkuratorin in Hamburg, where since 2013 she has headed a program for public art that reflects global and social issues. She also works as curator for Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (since 2008), lectures at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg, and writes for journals such as Texte zur Kunst and Springerin. Her previous roles include freelance curator and “art educator” for Documenta 11 (2002), the 3rd Berlin Biennale (2004), Projekt Migration, Cologne (2004–06), and Documenta 12 (2007).

Eungie Joo, joins us from the US, but more so from Korea where she is artistic director of the 5th An-yang Public Art Project to be inaugurated in October this year.
Eungie was curator of the 12th Sharjah Biennial (2015), Director of Art and Cultural Programs at Instituto Inhotim Brazil (2012-2014), and Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Programs at the New Museum, New York (2007-2012), where she installed the Museum as Hub project. At the New Museum, Joo published Rethinking Contemporary Art and Multicultural Education (Routledge and New Museum, 2009) and the Art Spaces Directory (ArtAsiaPacific and New Museum, 2012)
Eungie also curated The Ungovernables, 2012, presented „Condensation“ by Haegue Yang at the Korean Pavilion (2009) and was founding Director of REDCAT, Los Angeles (2003–2007).

Emily Pethick (UK) is director of The Showroom, London, which she relocated as well physically and mentally in the London landscape. Between 2003 and 2004, she was curator of Cubitt, London. She has contributed to numerous catalogs and journals, including Frieze, dot dot dot, GAS, Texte zur Kunst, Artforum, and Untitled, and has published a number of books.
Emily knows the Dutch landscape from inside, as from 2005–2008 she was director of Casco, Office for Art Design and Theory, in Utrecht – and is devising the curatorial program Curating Positions in 2016-2017 for the Dutch Art Institut (DAI).

Sophie, Eungie and Emily’s assignment is to make the rounds, to listen closely, to work closely with us and to present recommendations, based on their expertise, for an institution that will truly hold a position of its own within the ecosystem of Amsterdam art institutions.

Help them and us to get to know more, about what to focus on.
The agenda set today, with your input, will function as one of the starting points of the research group’s activities.

Please take the opportunity, contribute and help us in the development of a new institution, a place that gives expression to Amsterdam’s art production in all its shapes and forms.

We know that this decision aroused many emotions, but I would like to highlight again that we want to take a next step and focus on the future. We don’t want to stay for too long with these negative sentiments but we want to see this as a positive starting point.

It’s a good thing that these emotions are so prominent, right now. It shows that everyone is feeling very much involved.

I have heard many new things that can help us developing the research, thank you for that.

Listen to the debate on Soundcloud


Uncategorized April 12th, 2016

Between the Discursive and the Immersive

A Symposium on Research in the 21st-Century Art Museum

3 & 4 December 2015

What is the meaning and potential of research in museums of Modern Art? Seen their unique position at the intersection of academic discourse, artistic inquiries and artistic research, and the broad audiences they engage with, what contributions can museums make? These were some of the questions addressed during the two-day symposium Between the Discursive and the Immersive, which was organized by the Stedelijk Museum in collaboration with the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and the Aarhus University. The symposium brought together a wide range of international curators, educators, museum professionals and people from an academic background, combining theoretical reflection with hands-on experience in the form of 7-minute Pecha Kucha presentations.  Curator, researcher and writer Christel Vesters reports.

Auditorium Louisiana Museum

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Uncategorized October 14th, 2015


The Stedelijk Museum regularly invites guest bloggers to share their experiences and ideas about a particular subject, work or exhibition. Aernoud Bourdrez is a lawyer for the art world and a collector of contemporary art. He talks about the distinction between the “world of systems” and the “world we live in”, and considers that this is reflected in the works of Tino Sehgal.

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Uncategorized September 29th, 2015

”This Agreement”: Performance and the Contract Form

GenericService (2)[originally published in full in Metropolis M, 2015 no. 3]

‘Classical contract theory, is I would insist a social cosmology that is deeply performative—that is to say: it is oriented to installing the future it imagines.’
Angela Mitropoulos, Contract and Contagion: From Biopolitics to Oikonomia, 2012.

‘… He had accused her of moping around to the point where it was slowing down her performance. He received a magazine called Business Bits free in the mail, and evidently he’d been reading it.
“Oh, my performance,” said Louise, “you must excuse my performance”.’
Tom Drury, ‘Accident at the Sugarbeet’, The New Yorker, February 1992.

Tino Seghal’s performance piece This is Exchange (2006) holds an allegorical place within the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam on a busy Monday morning. It takes place within a room on the second floor—also occupied by Sol le Witt’s WALL DRAWING #1804 (2013).

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Essay August 27th, 2015

Tino Sehgal: Constructed Situations, Joyce and Beuys

The Stedelijk Museum regularly invites guestbloggers to share their experiences and thoughts. In this blog Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, professor in art history at the University of Amsterdam, compares Tino Sehgal’s constructed situations to novels of Joyce and Beuys.

Tino Sehgal’s likes and dislikes have been written about quite extensively. Today I will focus on one of the things he says he is not so interested in, novels,[1] – and also a little on what he told me he was very taken by during our thus far one and only conversation. That exchange – at a recent party – was surprising: Sehgal is at pains to avoid the tag performance art for what he does. Speaking of Joseph Beuys then, the subject of my PhD, may have been foolhardy. However, I managed to say that “my” Beuys is the one who did not arrive with a large sculpture in Northern Ireland, but came at one of the most difficult times of the “Troubles” (in 1974) to make friends. He did bring drawings to have a starting point for the museum to host him and for people to attend what would become a 3 ½ hour public lecture and discussion. As the most enduring of his contributions, however, he identified artists who were working in important ways in that context, kept his friendships with them alive, invited them to contribute to a migration workshop at documenta 6, 1977, even asked them along to his retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, and eventually paid the initial rent for their performance and exhibition space. What emerged, the Art and Research Exchange, can be viewed as a branch of the Free International University for Interdisciplinary Research, which Beuys set up around that time. This legacy of artists’ self-organised initiatives in an environment that still has no commercial contemporary art galleries is alive in Northern Ireland today. Sehgal was excited to hear all this: “The first time that Beuys appeals to me”, he said.

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Behind the scenes July 21st, 2015

My experience at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Hi there, my name is Eline Becht and I was an intern for three weeks at the Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam. Since I feel so lucky to have worked here, I will provide you with an insight of what my experience looked like in this short recap. When I arrived at the Stedelijk, as a simple high school student, I had one simple goal during my stay: I wanted to leave this place with a better idea in mind of what working in a museum is like. As a visitor, you don’t always know what is going on behind the scenes of exhibitions. How many people it takes to manage such a big institution and what their actual tasks are.

The first thing I immediately noticed in the Stedelijk was the nice atmosphere in the offices. Is this because of the same passion that is at the foundation of their job? I quickly understood, speaking with different employees, that everyone seems to love working here. No matter which department on or what position, from the ticket seller to the financial director, everyone enjoys it. Every job has a communal factor: keeping the cultural heritage safe while showing it and explaining it to the world. All the employees seem excited to be part of such a big mission.

So yes, I arrived here without knowing what I could and would be doing in the museum. Thanks to the employees, who gave me some of their precious time, I managed to exploit my tasks. My major task during these weeks was the education assignment I worked on since the first day. This assignment consisted of researching new workshop ideas for people of all ages and all physical and psychological conditions. To accomplish this I also had to take the vision of other art museums into consideration. I also worked in the museum, helping the volunteers at the family lab or the information desk when it was busy. I particularly liked this function because I had direct contact with international visitors and could help them finding their way around the museum while improving the languages French, Italian, English and Spanish that I learned at school. Furthermore, I did some other small tasks too such as filling in the volunteers’ schedule, taking pictures of specific artworks for the museum’s website, verifying the English version of the audio tour of the temporary exhibition and writing a review about it. Thanks to this last task I learned how to use an audio guide smartly. For me it was useful to understand how these audio guides work, since I hardly ever use it in museums myself,  because I prefer to visit the exhibitions on my own.

I also had the occasion to discover the backstage of the museum with a specialized employee that knew every secret of the building and could answer all my questions into detail. He showed me how the artworks enter the establishment and where they are stored before being exhibited. Art is unfortunately not immune to daily life dangers, and therefore it can happen that someone has to repair it. I have met two restorers who explained the long and difficult restauration process of artworks to me. There is no step back in the restoration process, so the restorers create reproductions of the artwork and test different restoration methods on it. Isn’t it incredible to have the opportunity to put your hands on famous and historic paintings or sculptures? I find their job fascinating but also fundamental; these restores, physically participate to the safeguard of our cultural heritage.

Last but not least, the most wonderful aspect of my internship was to be surrounded by the most incredible artworks every day. I could take all the time necessary to stare at them and if that wasn’t enough I could come back the day after. The only advice I can give you, you who is reading this short recap of my experience at the Stedelijk Museum, is to go to the museum and enjoy the incredible Artworks they have to offer. Enjoy art and share this pleasure with others because remember, art gathers people .


Lectures Lectures Public Program June 27th, 2015

Madness in Art

June 2015, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and its partner organizations the RKD and the University of Amsterdam, launched its Visiting Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art Program. As the inaugural guest of this new initiative, which aims at inspiring a wide community of students, professionals and art lovers, Professor W.J.T. Mitchell, gave a two-part lecture on the theme of madness in art and taught a three-day seminar at the University of Amsterdam. By Christel Vesters

mitchell 4

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