Pressing Matters


Pressing Matters is a group exhibition featuring 24 artists from Indonesia, brought together by artist Kevin van Braak. Split up into three interconnected parts, the exhibition addresses pressing socio-political issues in Indonesia. The exhibition space was transformed into a printing workshop, focusing specifically on local collective practices, mutual exchange, activism, and the boundaries and overlaps between art and craft

Pressing Matters has its origins in a long term project by Kevin van Braak, which departed from a research into the personal history of his Indonesian grandfather. The series of works that resulted from this project created a visual representation of his grandfather’s history, but his research simultaneously led to an increased engagement of Van Braak with contemporary issues in Indonesia, often relating to colonial history.

In a later artist-in-residency at Cemeti – Institute for Art and Society in Yogyakarta, Van Braak expanded the scope of his project to include other personal stories and histories, drawing from an intensive collaboration with local contemporary artists, writers, woodcarvers and activists. This resulted in the work Pentagonal Icositetrahedron (2017), the starting point of the exhibition: a three-dimensional spherical object with 24 sides, each carved design contributed by a different artist. Like a prism, the sphere reflects varying personal, activist statements, that not only overlap but also literally form one whole. Recurring themes are the exploitation of nature and natural resources, industrialisation and land rights, for example in the work of Fitri DKErvance ‘Havefun’ DwiputraMaryanto and Yudha Sandy. But topics of feminism and LGBTQ-discrimination are also raised, in the work of Ipeh Nur and that of activist collective Needle and Bitch. References to the history of Indonesia and the colonial past play a role in the work of Muhammad ‘Ucup’ Yusuf and Hestu Setu Legi. Special attention is given to the painful history of West Papua, for instance in the work of Papuan painter Ignasius Dicky Takndare, who will also be present for the public program of the exhibition. Over half of the participating artists, moreover, created new work especially for the exhibition, which for the most part address this specific theme. Artist Ipeh Nur (1993, Yogyakarta) was invited to the Netherlands in the weeks leading up to the opening, to create a new site-specific work for the exhibition in the downstairs hallway of the Tolhuistuin.

The sphere, combined with the wooden framework as well designed by Van Braak and modelled after a Javanese Joglo-house, is emblematic of the format of the exhibition; a social platform encouraging interaction and exchange. As a printing block, the sphere changes the space in a workshop: during the course of the exhibition, the 24 designs are printed, dried and freely distributed among the audience. By emphasising the craftmanship, and stressing the importance of widely spreading the activist messages, the exhibition challenges dominant definitions of art, in which scarcity and demand determine its definition and value.

With Pressing Matters Kevin van Braak and Framer Framed create a collaborative space in which multiple conventions in the art world are questioned. Van Braak chose a working format in which the ‘collective’ takes centre stage, and hierarchy is avoided where possible, both in working with the artists as well as with Framer Framed: in the intensive collaboration process, positions and roles like artist, curator, producer and writer were not set in stone, but were taken on in a collective manner.

Participating artists
Kevin van Braak, Akiq AW, Antitank, Ibob Arief, Djuwadi, Fitri DK, Ervance ‘Havefun’ Dwiputra, Satoto Budi Hartono, Agung Kurniawan, Timoteus Anggawan Kusno, Rangga Lawe, Hestu Setu Legi, Maryanto, Prihatmoko Moki, Needle and Bitch, Ipeh Nur, Onyenho, Deni Rahman,Yudha Sandy, Naomi Srikandi, Ignasius Dicky Takndare, Julian Abraham ‘Togar’, Isrol Triono (Media Legal), Bayu Widodo, Muhammad ‘Ucup’ Yusuf.

Installation photo ‘Pressing Matters’ at Framer Framed (c) Maarten van Haaff

Cities Of Continuous Lines


Cities of continuous lines

Can a door be Fascist? This is one of many questions considered by artists Kevin van Braak and Rossella Biscotti. Through photography, documentary film, and the analysis of architectural fragments they explore how the architecture of Fascism is being transformed in Italy. In the process, they invite consideration of whether architecture has intrinsic philosophical meaning – and whether that meaning is fixed or fluid.
As to the aforementioned door, Van Braak and Biscotti salvaged it from the Palazzo degli Uffici in the Fascist-designed EUR neighborhood of Rome. The door and two accompanying side panels are of glass and wood covered with a thin layer of linoleum. The artists reassembled the pieces and sanded away layers of paint and the whole stands now as a section of an interior corridor wall, ready for its next coat of paint. Looking at it, one can’t help but think that this is merely a door, a simple construction of aged wood and glass. It can hardly contain either the secrets to the regime or the power of its ideology. Or can it?
The door restoration asks: how does architecture mean? The physical remains of this door may not contain an overt ideology, but the design was almost certainly intended to communicate one. Design is the link between the architect’s intentions and the viewer’s reading of a work, and in the Palazzo degli Uffici we find an architecture that is grandiose, unornamented, and modern. These characteristics were intended to link the regime to the Roman Empire, while at the same time displaying its revolutionary nature.
Biscotti and Van Braak’s explorations repeatedly pry open the fractured space between intention and reception. Their documentary film, for example, shows the slow process of cleaning the swimming pool in Mussolini’s forum in Rome. A tiny man moves about, scrubbing and patching within the vast empty space of the pool. Behind him, murals of heroic, gigantic athletes cover the walls. The contrast in movement and scale between the worker and the frozen athletes highlights how in the occupation of these spaces there might be an opportunity to redefine the architecture of Fascism.
In another instance, the artists show how one of the greatest works of Fascist architecture has already been recast. In a photograph of the interior of the Fencing Academy in Mussolini’s forum, we can still see the elegant lines of the original design. But we also see that in the 1970s the building was shoddily remodeled as a courthouse. The floor has chartreuse carpet, the furniture is cheap, and cables, electric cords, and video cameras are visible everywhere. The image forces a confrontation between the building’s initial grand promise and its subsequent inglorious history and use.
Beyond a re-examination of Fascist architecture, the exhibition reminds us of the power that cultural productions retain in the political realm. Most of us understand politics not only through legislation or policy proposals but also through the more subtle messages communicated by culture. It might be through the culture of celebrity – the Kennedy dynasty or even Alessandra Mussolini – or it might be through architecture and design. It is culture, in fact, that provides the tangible connections among people, their nations, and their governments. And the architecture of Fascism is often breathtakingly beautiful. This is why it was successful when it was new and why it is still a bit chilling now.
Yet in attempting to capture this moment when Fascist architecture is cleaned, restored, remodeled and otherwise changed, Van Braak and Biscotti are reminding us that we too have a role in ascribing meaning to buildings, and that in fact, meaning can evolve and change. Take, for example, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. which was originally intended to commemorate Lincoln’s role as savior of the Union. This idea was communicated through the site’s location across the Potomac from the home of Robert E. Lee and through inscriptions and ornament all of which commemorated the preservation of the Union, rather than the abolition of slavery. However, events such as the 1939 concert by the African-American Marian Anderson and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech have slowly transformed the meaning of the monument. Today the Lincoln Memorial stands, in the collective consciousness of the nation, as a symbol of equality: in essence, as a civil rights monument.
While the architecture of Fascism may never be entirely liberated from the politics of its creation, it is also true that designers never have the last word on what their buildings mean; society does. Now, as the architecture of Fascism is being remodeled, repainted, and reused, its meaning can be redefined by new and unforeseen voices. In this vein, Van Braak and Biscotti’s work asks us all: What will the architecture of Fascism mean next?
text by Stephanie Pilat

Mental Archive


Mental Archive

This website is still under construction
texts will follow soon

Mental Archive, is a commission project by Museum the Paviljoens in Almere (The Netherlands) in collaboration with Rossella Biscotti. (2006)

New Crossroads


New Crossroads

New Crossroads is a temporary intervention that was realised in Cape Town. Considering the complex architectural situation of the townships, we decided to realize a temporary structure that over time spread throughout the multitude of the houses. A selection of inhabitants from the township of New Crossroad, attempt to change the location with a not functional working intervention. In a public field, they build a tower of five meters by stacking beams of wood, painted in a vivid green. The bright color chosen is not present in the area. When the structure is at its highest point and visible throughout the township, residents where invited to come to dismantle it, taking the materials to use for their own purposes.
The Tower will find its meaning only after it has been taken down and fragmented. The image of the tower like a unique symbol and reference point of the city will fade away in the horizontality of the neighbourhood.

This project is made in collaboration with Rossella Biscotti.

After four rotation of A, B will make one revolution

After four rotation of A, B will make one revolution, 2009 is an ongoing collaboration project with Rossella Biscotti, that at the moment includes 7 sculptures. The work is a transfer of existing figurative socialist sculptures into minimalist shapes of the same material, weight, historical reverence and name. The blocks are very small in comparison to the original sculptures, because they are made of massive material of the same weight. The relation between content-shape and weight-figure, brings up a series of questions on how to symbolise history in both sculptures, the original figurative one and the minimalist reverence copy. On the other hand the procedure of melting bronze into blocks or raw material reminds of melted sculptures at the end of a regime or ideology.