“When we began talking to TENT, it became apparent that they were willing to give us the space to do a complete takeover, which was very important”, says Alhaag, artistic director at Metro54, as well as a radio show host and independent curator, who has worked with Framer Framed and the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam and at the Node Center for Curatorial Studies in Berlin. “In my experience, I find that if you really want to bring in a different set of knowledge, ways of thinking, and codes, you also need to consider what it means to make a project that refuses the context in which it will be happening.” For Alhaag, this really meant sidestepping away from the white walls of the gallery space and trying to rethink the rules of exhibiting. Working with architect Afaina de Jong and designer Egbert Thomas, the pervasive white cube of institutionalised contemporary art has been shattered, remodelled, and re-coloured. “It’s almost performing colour to refuse the whiteness of the institution”, she laughs. The spatial design of alcoves and tableaux creates periscopes into other worlds, invit- ing visitors to step into and climb around the physical interfaces. Graphic art, videos, and photography allow for a visceral urban street culture to surface, one that is otherwise not seen in the designer’s representation of Rotterdam. A pink basketball court takes up an entire gallery and visitors shed their rucksacks and play.
Herein lies Enigbokan’s distinction between ‘to appropriate’, or to takeover the space and change the rules; and ‘to be appropriate’, or proper to the space, as the letter-writers were expected to be. But it does not just apply to galleries and institutions; it applies to every street and every city in Europe. Do you decide who you are or do the spaces, architecture, and urban design decide?
Cinema Olanda: Platform is at Witte de With in Rotterdam until 20 August 2017.