Working title: through the looking glass

Bik Van Der Pol
19 Nov / 21 Nov, 2019
Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto
Bik Van Der Pol workshop is part of the UNIDEE fall term titled MODES OF INSTITUTING, that is dedicated to imagining the role of art organizations in times of perennial crisis, and to discussing what their future(s) in the next twenty years will be. A group of eight international applicants will be selected to follow a two-weeks programme of workshops and conferences. Together with Annette Krauss and Yolande Van de Heide other artists and curators will promote their own workshops: Kobe Matthys, Janna Graham and Valeria Graziano, Annette Krauss and Yolande Van de Heide.

The selection was made by invitation from the Cittadellarte and UNIDEE board.
A group of eight young artists and curators from Italy and beyond have been selected to follow the workshops and produce a final document: Agil Abdullayev, Gaia Di Lorenzo, Nicholas Ferrara, Giulia Floris, Carlotta Sofia Grassi, Majd Nasrallah, Yates Norton and Carolina Ongaro.

Since the early 2000s, many local wool mills in Biella have closed due to global capitalism: they could no longer compete with the prices of imported fabrics and clothing. Participants are invited to engage in a collaborative process, starting from Biella as a city in transformation. Understanding inhabitants and their body as carriers of experience and the city as an archive and a scene that could function as site for reading and listening to reflect on global processes, the purpose of the workshop is to collectively create a scenario on a speculative narrative that takes place in Biella, now and in the future. Starting points for this narrative are loss, co-operation and silence as a political imperative of infrastructure, and the role that this may play both in its human and automated state. We propose to rethink ‘loss’ as an instigator and potential for alternative learning for the future, and increase the volume of the stories that must be told now. The outcome will be the performance of such learning processes.

Since 1995, Liesbeth Bik and Jos van der Pol have worked together as Bik Van der Pol. They work and live in Rotterdam (NL). Through their practice they aim to articulate and understand how art can produce a public sphere and space for speculation and imagination through which ‘publicness’ is not only defined but also created. By setting up the conditions for encounter, they develop a process of working that allows for continuous reconfigurations of places, histories and publics. Their practice is site-specific with dialogue as a mode of transfer; a “passing through”, understood in its etymological meaning of “a speech across or between two or more people, out of which new understandings may emerge”. In fact, they consider the element of “passing through” as vital. It is temporal, and implies action and the development of new forms of discourse. Their work is both instigator and result of this method.
Bik Van der Pol are also one of the initiators of the School of Missing Studies that started in2003 as an initiative of artists and architects who recognized “the missing” as a matter of urgency. Investigating what culture(s) laid the foundations for the loss we are experiencing from modernization and how this loss can talk back to us as a potential site of learning, the School of Missing Studies is calling for a space to turn existing knowledge against itself to affect our capacity to see things otherwise, to trust that seeing, and to set one’s own pedagogical terms.

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Bik van der Pol co-initiated the Duende artists’ initiative in Rotterdam and the Nomads & Residents collective in New York. They have worked with others to set up the School of Missing Studies, served as advisers at the Jan van Eyck Academie, and taught at MIT. Their work has been exhibited in museums, art institutes and biennales around the world. They have developed works for Creative Time and Frieze Projects. In 2010 they won the prestigious Enel Contemporanea Award (Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome), and in 2014 they received the Hendrik Chabot Award. They live and work in Rotterdam.