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Father, Can’t You See I’m Burning?

de Appel arts centre Prins Hendrikkade 142, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Exhibition opening Friday 25.04.2014

With accomplices: Marinus Boezem, Justin Gosker, Jan Hoeft, Krõõt Juurak, Sarah van Lamsweerde, Ieva Misevičiūtė, Robertas Narkus, Pavel Pepperstein, Michael Portnoy, Jan Rothuizen, Reinaart Vanhoe, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, Katarina Zdjelar

We are most thrilled to invite you to join us for the opening of the exhibition and programme of events ‘Father, Can’t You See I’m Burning?’, curated by the participants of de Appel Curatorial Programme; Renata Cervetto, Kris Dittel, Lara Khaldi, Emma Panza, Aneta Rostkowska and Kate Strain.

The opening commences at 18:00 – 21:00 with ongoing performances by Krõõt Juurak, Robertas Narkus, Michael Portnoy, and Katarina Zdjelar

‘Father, Can’t You See I’m Burning?’ is a project curated by the participants of de Appel Curatorial Programme. It unfolds in multiple parts: a prelude, a show, a series of events, footnotes and a publication - which bring together a score of newly commissioned art works and texts, to be presented across time and space. The impetus for the creation of these new works has been conjured from the ashes of historical non-events and their potentiality.

The exhibition proceeds from April 27 - June 13, Saturday 26 April the exhibition is closed for Kings Day.

For more information please visit www.deappel.nl


A Suggestion of Facts
A Reluctant Statement on the Politics of Compliance

Whistleblowers, Trendsetters, Firefighters, Arsonists, Situationists, Modern Heroes, here we are now, we want to burn, don’t we? Who said so? Who put the matches in our aprons?


In 1959 the Situationist International (SI) proposed to Willem Sandberg, the director of the Stedelijk Museum, to build a labyrinthine structure connecting the inside of the museum to the outside world. Sandberg responded that it could be done, but under two conditions: the SI should collaborate with the fire brigade and secure additional financial support from a royal fund. The Situationists withdrew.


What can be conjured from the ashes of this historical non-event? In this instance, we respect the radical decision of the SI (in withdrawing their proposal on the basis that it’s integrity would be jeopardized by Sandberg’s caveat) but at the same time, we would have loved to see possible outcomes resulting from this proposed labyrinth. If today’s institution is so much shaped by rules and regulations, external expectations and internal fears, can the dream of an impossible labyrinth compel us to enter the realm of the possible?


The exhibition Father, Can’t You See I’m Burning? voices skepticism towards a certain legacy of rebellion that we – contemporary artists and active curators at large - have inherited. The legacy of non-compliance – as performed in the instance of the labyrinth that didn’t happen. We find ourselves in a kitchen with ready-made radical recipes for Molotov cocktails, with ingredients like the ideology of the avant-garde, institutional critique and art as propaganda. We drag this heritage of inhibited hopefulness into our present, we impersonate it, we disobey, we rebel, and then burnt down we come to a halt. Because that is what we learned from our patronizing fathers and modern protagonists, who linger in cast shadows of misguided radicalism. We don’t want to fall into that trap of fulfilling expectations and pre-molded formats. We do realize the urgency to continue, to carry the weight, but we are not going to be anchored down by this legacy. We’d rather carry the matches lightly in our aprons and cook with uninhibited intuition.


So what kind of fire do we cook with? It is not the aggressive fire of artistic activism that burns down only by means of consuming that which makes it special and unique. Nor is it the ethereal fire of beauty and sheer formalism whose only use is to keep the art market simmering. And it certainly is not a temporary glaze of fireworks – a mesmerizing spectacle aimed to dazzle. It is rather a material and sensual fire, inside a slow-burning stove, where meals are shared and stories are told. A rhythmic, repetitive and bodily fire. A phatic fire ignited by the energy of language, permeated with music. A fire of alchemy, not chemistry. An irreducible fire that was present in the caves of Lascaux, burnt the incense in medieval cathedrals and left the ashes for Malevich’s Black Square. A fire that – while appealing to different senses - propels incessantly and spreads in different directions without having any special purpose. An uncontrollable internal drive to perform, engage and experience. A fire that offers possibilities, not solutions.


We are dancing to prolong that fire in our belly. We are swaying in the present, blindly pursuing the call of the future. What can we give you? No saints. No sinners either. Only this: a fantasy of transmutation, a transmutative fantasy. Can’t you see the flames already dancing under our feet?

Renata Cervetto, Kris Dittel, Lara Khaldi, Emma Panza, Aneta Rostkowska, Kate Strain

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from 25 April to 15 June 2014



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