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Rotterdam’s current landscape of art institutions emerged in the 1990s. In contrast, artists have been shaping the city’s artistic milieu since the late 1970s. Artist initiatives provide workspace, presentation possibilities, local cooperation, international exchange, and inspiring models of self-organisation. Artists join forces to create conditions for advancing art and culture. This attitude was always elementary – and possible – in Rotterdam.

Kaus Australis and DIY studios
Kaus Australis is a telling example of how artists literally create space for art. In 1993, the artists took the initiative to develop a DIY model and commissioned and partly built the facility themselves. The building became a place where artists have scope to make large-scale work, known for its international guest studios, exhibitions, and welcoming kitchen. In short, a place that gave substance to a neglected corner of the city. This presentation details how such a project was possible and the effort it entailed.

Artist initiatives and the real estate market
The booming real estate market is now putting Kaus Australis under pressure, and they have been ordered to dismantle the building. RCH#17 is an expression of support for them to find a new location and a call for broader discussion.

The importance of ‘incubation sites’ and a sustainable cultural ‘ecosystem’ has been under discussion for decades. The International Advisory Board for Culture recently said Rotterdam’s strength is that it is a place where initiatives and grassroots organisations can develop. However, the city has reached a tipping point. What impact will current real estate policies have on Rotterdam as a home for makers? Is the Kaus Australis model feasible in 2020? Can artists still contribute to the making of the city?

Artists Sandro Setola and Chris van Mulligen compiled this edition.

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 in 2014 to explore the common roots of both institutions in Rotterdam.

Events with this show