Wednesday, 3 June 2009


Artistas de Vangardia (Graciela Carnevale archive) and Bik Van der Pol
27 May 2009 - 19 July 2009

Pump House Gallery is pleased to host the first major UK presentation of the works of Grupo de Artistas de Vangardia (Argentina), and Loompanics Unlimited by Bik Van der Pol (Netherlands). Although visually very different, the ideas, approach and debates explored through their works are remarkably similar; encouraging the viewer to consider such ideas as power, economic disparity, the State and the social role of art.

Grupo de Artistas de Vangardia, formed in the 1960s, created some of the most important examples of political and investigative art in Latin America. This exhibition, co-produced with Graciela Carnevale, a member and participant in the group’s projects, brings together an archive of photographs, manifestos, reports and documentation of their activities.

An early work by the group, Experimental Art Cycle (Rosario,1968), was a series of individual exhibitions that challenged the conventional role of the gallery, placing art within a wider context. On the opening night of Carnevale’s exhibition, she locked guests in the exhibition space. They only escaped when a passing member of the public smashed the gallery’s glass window.

Later, they developed Tucumán Arde (1968), a project and exhibition exposing hardship in the Tucumán region caused by the then Argentine government’s repressive economic programme. The exhibition became the central alternative outlet of counter government information and, after being displayed for two weeks in Rosario, it was shown in Buenos Aires, where the police closed it down on the opening day. Due to government censorship many of the artists ceased practising their art for many years, some for good.

Bik Van der Pol (Liesbeth Bik and Jos van der Pol) have been working together since 1995. They explore the potential of art to produce and transmit knowledge, and often reuse and reactivate the work of others to find new connections and points of interaction. They are exhibiting Loompanics Unlimited for the first time in the UK.

An American publishing and bookselling company, Loompanics Unlimited (1975-2006) specialized in unusual, unpredictable and controversial books, which, for instance, teach you how to survive without being connected to the electricity board or how to disappear and never be discovered again. Manuals that ‘your mother and the state would rather you didn’t read’.

Presenting a selection of 140 books from Loompanics Unlimited, from “Money-Making Opportunities, Underground Economy, Fake I.D.’s, Locks and Locksmithing” to “Conducting Investigations and How to Sneak into the Movies Without Paying”, Bik Van der Pol address the visitor and reader as an individual and a member of society, causing us to explore our own limitations in relation to freedom of speech, censorship and private responsibility. Evaluating the notions of ultimate democratic freedom alongside ideas of what is socially desirable; Bik Van der Pol’s presentation is for knowledge, fun, pleasure and the unlimited possibilities of the individual.

Grupo de Artistas de Vanguardia’s Tucumán Arde Archive has been exhibited at Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel 2007; Palais de Glace, Buenos Aires 2006; Witte de With, Netherlands, 2005 and Museum Ludwig, Cologne 2004. Craciela Carnevale (1942, Argentina), has exhibited at Documenta 12, Kassel, 2007; Centro Cultural de Espania, Argentina, 2003; Centro de Arte Contemporaneo Wifredo Lam, Cuba, 2001; C.C.B. Rivadavia, Argentina, 1999.

Bik Van der Pol live and work in Rotterdam. Recent exhibitions include PLUG-IN 28, Pay Attention, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2008; For Reasons Of State, ISP Whitney, New York, 2008; Moscow Biennale, Mosow, 2007; Fly Me To The Moon, New Riijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 2006

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