The Poortgebouw is a 37-year-old organisation that hosts cultural activities, as well as a community of 30 people. Over the years it has offered space for self-organised events and projects, provided residencies for guests, artists and musicians, and afforded living and work spaces for different generations of people from all over the world. The building was first squatted in 1980 and attained legal status four years later, which was made possible through renovating the building and making it habitable. The commitment of its first residents enabled the founding of the Poortgebouw Association.
A temporary collective
The project was authored by a temporary collective, consisting of inhabitants of the Poortgebouw and students from the Experimental Publishing Master Programme at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. Member of the collective were Giulia de Giovanelli, Naomi de Wit, Philippa Driest, Angeliki Diakrousi, Alice Strete and Thanos Kaltsamis. On the invitation of TENT, they carried on from previous reseach on the Poortgebouw’s history, in two projects from 2017 – the database ‘The Autonomous Archive’ and the publication ‘A Bed, A Chair and A Table’.
Sharing strategies of self-organisation
The Temporary Autonomous Bureau served as meeting point where experiences with how to navigate between autonomy and institutionalisation can be shared. During this presentation’s three-month timeframe, the public was given access to the fragmented Poortgebouw archive. The collective also conducted questionnaires about autonomy and hosted a series of events that mapped the independent strategies of self-organisation in Rotterdam.
Key questions during these events were:
How can independent organisations maintain agency in a city where the institutionalisation of cultural and residential spaces is the norm?
Is it possible to establish sustainable, non- hierarchical, socio-cultural projects through collaborative, bottom-up practices?
Can a degree of openness and autonomy be maintained in the management of a self-organised social and cultural project?
With thanks to past and present Poortgebouw occupants and all the people who have supported it over the years.
Rotterdam Cultural Histories
In Shared Space, our shared exhibition space on the second floor, TENT and Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art alternatingly create presentations on subjects from the history of art and culture in Rotterdam. This collaborative series was conceived by Defne Ayas (Witte de With) and Mariette Dölle (TENT) in 2014 to explore the common roots of both institutions in Rotterdam.