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Personal Structures BIBLIOGRAPHY



By Karlyn De Jongh and Sarah Gold

Through the above link, you can download the PDF of this publication

We, Karlyn De Jongh and Sarah Gold, two curators from the Netherlands, have created the non-profit organization GlobalArtAffairs Foundation. We organize many different projects in the world of contemporary art. Our aim is to heighten the awareness about the more philosophical themes in contemporary art, in particular Time – Space and Existence. We try to make these concepts more accessible to a wider international audience, hoping to heighten the awareness and importance of thoughts about Time - Space and Existence in each person’s life. In order to do this, we organize symposia, exhibitions and publish books around these themes, always in close cooperation with the artists involved. We offer artists a platform to present their work; this platform is called “PERSONAL STRUCTURES”.

PERSONAL STRUCTURES was initiated in 2002 by the Dutch artist Rene Rietmeyer, for whom the concepts Time – Space and Existence are essential for his work, and as he says: ”they are the largest concepts for mankind in general, not only in art.” Rietmeyer’s works, which he calls “Boxes”, are personal and address his existence within time and space. The Boxes refer to people, cities, and regions, but do not simply represent the visual appearance of the subjects. Rather they create a certain atmosphere: they convey the artist’s emotional relationship to the subject through form, color, texture, composition, and choice of materials. The Boxes ‘contain’ Rietmeyer’s thoughts and express the experience of a specific region or person, he met at a certain place and time. Rietmeyer expresses himself with abstract means; the installation “NAPLES 2010”, for example, comprises a lively statement with a ‘dirty’ yellow-red-colored painted surface. The objects reflect Rietmeyer’s thoughts on Naples, during May 2010 when we were there with him one week for Hermann Nitsch’s 130th Aktion. The Boxes show Naples, its subject and, simultaneously, admit something about him, regardless of whether the result is aesthetically pleasing or not. As Rietmeyer says: “Ultimately, my work is nothing other than the proof of my existence.”

Rene Rietmeyer noticed that even in the most distant corners of the world, there are artists working with Time - Space and Existence, thereby expressing themselves in a very personal way. This observation led to the idea of bringing several of these artists together in publications, exhibitions and symposia. He wanted to make these concepts more ‘en vogue’, and realize a change in the world of contemporary art. Believing so much in this idea, Rietmeyer setup and donated all his work to our Foundation, allowing us to organize our events with the money we earn from the sales.

PERSONAL STRUCTURES began with 16 young artists from all over the world, mainly working with similar ‘minimalist’ characteristics. Rietmeyer regarded these individual, artistic expressions of each artist as personal statements and came up with the overall title PERSONAL STRUCTURES. Even though Rietmeyer’s work has these ‘minimalist’ characteristics, his Boxes are personal and go beyond the thoughts of the Minimalist movement of artists such as Donald Judd, who said their work is objective. Continuing from the 1966 Minimal Art exhibition “Primary Structures”, PERSONAL STRUCTURES refers to the return of the personal and the subjective in art and became an open forum for artists working with the themes of Time – Space and Existence, each in their own, personal way.

Over the years, PERSONAL STRUCTURES developed. In 2005, I, Sarah, came to the project and started together with Rene Rietmeyer a cycle of symposia in which artists would speak about their work. We came up with the idea of organizing a symposium about Time in Amsterdam, Space in New York and Existence in Tokyo. Starting to organize this first symposium in Amsterdam in 2007, we needed assistance. This is when, I, Karlyn joined the team. From then on, we worked together: organizing our symposia and doing interviews. Our project started growing. More artists participated: Joseph Kosuth, Lawrence Weiner, Roman Opalka, Lee Ufan and Dan Graham. And we started to focus less and less on the visual aspects of the work, leaving the ‘minimalist’ characteristics for what they were – opening ourselves up for artists, such as Hermann Nitsch and Antony Gormley. In 2009, all symposium texts and interviews were published with DuMont in a beautiful red book, which – in short – became the start of where we are today: the 2011 Venice Biennale.

Since 4 June 2011, our exhibition PERSONAL STRUCTURES at Palazzo Bembo in Venice, is open to the public. It is part of the 54th Venice Biennale and presents 28 artists from 5 continents, representing 12 countries. Through the contacts we gained over the past years, we were able to bring together an extraordinary combination of established artists and others whose oeuvre is less known – showing Joseph Kosuth next to Judy Millar and Marina Abramović and Lawrence Weiner next to Toshikatsu Endo. What they have in common, of course, is a dedication to the concepts Time - Space and Existence.

Venice’s prestigious Palazzo Bembo, by Rialto Bridge on Canal Grande, was for us the perfect building. The 24 spaces, allowed us to give most of the artists a space of their own. And we gave them the freedom to do with that space what they wanted, interfering as little as possible. It was a challenge for them: creating a statement for the Venice Biennale, being presented in such good company. That is why, each artist in the exhibition presents recent artworks, either site-specific, especially made for this exhibition, or coming directly from the artist’s studio. Their strong statements give each of the rooms a very specific atmosphere.

Because the participating artists have their roots in diverse cultures and have very different ages, the concepts Time - Space and Existence are highlighted not only in very personal ways but from unusual points of view, too. In addition, the exhibition features a broad variety of artistic media, such as: videos, sculptures, paintings, photos, installations with light, wallpaper and performance. This means that you can see a light installation from the 84-year-old François Morellet from France as well as a performance from the 30-year-old Xing Xin from China. Conform the thoughts of PERSONAL STRUCTURES, this exhibition offers you the possibility to create a more conscious relation with your surroundings and tries to increase your awareness of your own personal Existence within a specific Space and Time.

Besides the group exhibitions and symposia, we organize projects centralizing one single artist. These “Personal Structures Art Projects” are tailored to fit the artist’s thoughts and to emphasize his work. It became a series of projects, which are documented as special edition artists' books. So far, we published four of those projects, with Lawrence Weiner, Hermann Nitsch, Roman Opalka and On Kawara. The projects allow us to spend quite a lot of time together with the artist, intensifying the relationship and our knowledge about his work. For example, in our first Art Project, we stayed 24 hours together with Weiner on his houseboat in the harbor of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Everything that happened, was documented, turning it into an ‘absurdly long’ theater play. Another project was with Hermann Nitsch, where we spent seven days together with Nitsch and participated in his 130th Aktion in the Museo Hermann Nitsch in Naples, in May 2010. Each day, separate from each other, we both wrote very honestly and openly about our experiences. You have been able to read about our project with Nitsch in the previous issue of this magazine, where we published a part of our experience being naked on the cross during Nitsch’s Aktion.

This experience, being part of Nitsch’s artwork, experiencing ‘life’ so intensely with all our senses and writing about our feelings, led to the idea of doing more than ‘just’ the written documentation of this event. We created an Art Edition of 50 copies, containing each 12 photos of the different stages in Nitsch’s Aktion together with both our texts in which we tell about how we experienced the event. A similar edition we are now making with Arnulf Rainer, who drew over photos of us and wrote a story about how this all came into being.

Our project PERSONAL STRUCTURES is an ongoing project, expanding with everything we do. We are already looking forward to the projects that are scheduled after our current Venice Biennale exhibition: symposia in South Africa and Australia and our new book “PERSONAL STRUCTURES: TIME SPACE EXISTENCE, number 2”. We are now 33 and 30 years old, planning to continue this project for many years to come and hoping that one day we will be able to give the project further to other young people who will continue to organize events around the concepts Time – Space and Existence and live a beautiful and interesting life in the world of contemporary art.

Our current exhibition PERSONAL STRUCTURES is open every day, until 27 November 2011. It is held at Palazzo Bembo, close to Rialto Bridge on Canal Grande. An exhibition catalogue as well as our 448-page book about our project, PERSONAL STRUCTURES (DuMont 2009), containing the thoughts of several of the exhibiting artists, will be available.

For more information, you can always look on our websites: