press release

Orte: Witte de With, Rotterdam; TENT Rotterdam; Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam

Three Rotterdam institutions show a unique collection of visual art This summer Witte de With, TENT. and the Nederlands fotomuseum are showing a selection from the art collection of the Austrian Generali Foundation. Since the late 1980s Generali has been building a collection of international visual art, in which the emphasis lies on conceptual art, social involvement and the use of electronic media. For the first time a survey exhibition of the collection has been assembled, which will only be seen in Munich, Rotterdam and Zagreb. The exhibition includes work by Harun Farocki, Bruno Gironcoli, Dan Graham, Hans Haacke, Martha Rosler, Allan Sekula, Heimo Zobernig and many others.

The Generali collection: history, scope, topicality The Generali Foundation was established in 1988 by the Generali Vienna Group, with the goal of promoting contemporary art. With a collection of Austrian sculpture as its point of departure, the emphasis later shifted to the thematization of art as a social space. Installation works, film, photography, video and media in general that allow the production of art as a process have therefore defined this unique collection for many years. The collection comprises about 1,500 works by about 160 artists. What is especially remarkable about the Generali Foundation is that it involves a ‘corporate’ collection which nevertheless has been assembled, expanded, maintained and made accessible as a true public collection. The Generali Foundation has always exhibited and collected art which is still considered ‘difficult’ or ‘problematic’ due to the media involved or the topics addressed, and which is therefore rarely collected. Photography, film, video and installations are amply represented in it; the Generali Foundation has indeed played a pioneering role in collecting policy with regard to these media. It holds the largest collection of artist’s videos in Europe (more than 350 works). The works of many female artists who are still not adequately represented in museums are also a strong focal point of the collection. In that way too the Generali Foundation distinguishes itself from other institutions.

Artists showing in Occupying Space in Rotterdam Azra Aksamija - Fareed Armaly - Gottfried Bechtold - Norbert Brunner - Ernst Caramelle - Maria Eichhorn - valie export - Harun Farocki - Andrea Fraser - Rainer Ganahl - Isa Genzken - Bruno Gironcoli - Dan Graham - Hans Haacke - Hans Hollein - Sanja Ivekovic - Mary Kelly - Richard Kriesche - Elke Krystufek - Friedl Kubelka - Dorit Margreiter - Gordon Matta-Clark - Walter Pichler - Adrian Piper - Mathias Poledna - Marjetica Potrc - Florian Pumhösl - Martha Rosler - Gerhard Rühm - Michael Schuster - Allan Sekula - Peter Weibel - Franz West - Heimo Zobernig.

Occupying Space in Witte de With and TENT. Works by artists such as Dan Graham, Martha Rosler, Franz West, VALIE EXPORT and Hans Haacke, who anchor the Generali collection in art history, will be shown in Witte de With and TENT. Graham and Haacke are known in The Netherlands; West, who has an international reputation, has rarely been shown here on a large scale (a retrospective planned for 2006 at the Van Abbe Museum was recently cancelled). His sculpture on Rotterdam’s Westersingel, a stone’s throw from Witte de With, is however familiar to many. In other countries VALIE EXPORT is presently undergoing an important ‘revival’ as an icon of social-critical attitudes, but not yet in The Netherlands. In addition to works by these artists there will also be works exhibited by artists who are much less known to the broad public, but are worth being more widely exhibited in here, such as Bruno Gironcoli, Thomas Poledna, Walter Pichler, Harun Farocki and Heimo Zobernig.

Occupying Space in the Nederlands fotomuseum The exhibition here shows work by artists who already have be seen in the Museum before, and for whom reflection on photography is or has been important, such as Allan Sekula and Martha Rosler. At the same time, bridges can be built to oeuvres that otherwise would not so quickly be exhibited in the context of photography, but are indeed thoroughly relevant for a better understanding of the artistic and social significance of that medium, such as the work of VALIE EXPORT and Friedl Kubelka. Dan Graham plays a central role here because his work is created across all these disciplines. In addition, the thematic character of the collection policy of the Generali Foundation offers interesting starting points for reflection of the fotomuseum’s own collection policy. What is the significance for photography in general of the work of visual artists who use photography? What does it mean to collect work that reflects theoretically on, or poses critical questions about the qualities or use of the medium itself?

The exhibition Occupying Space is organized by the Generali Foundation Vienna, in cooperation with TENT., Witte de With and the Nederlands fotomuseum. Curated by Sabine Breitwieser. With this collaboration TENT., Witte de With and the Nederlands fotomuseum have seized a unique chance to devote attention to the relation between photography and visual art from the special perspectives that the collection involved supplies (conceptual and performance art, cross-overs between disciplines and media, etc.).

The selection of work to be shown was made by Sabine Breitwieser (Director of the Generali Foundation), in cooperation with Rein Wolfs (guest curator Witte de With and TENT.) and Frits Gierstberg (head of Exhibitions at the Nederlands fotomuseum).

09.03.05 - 16.05.05 Haus der Kunst, München
08.07.05 - 28.08.05 Witte de With, Rotterdam;
TENT Rotterdam; Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam
28.10.05 - 09.12.05 Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb