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Thinking through Things

  Mar–June 2018

           me setting up the projection for the expo’s videos

I co-organised and wrote the program text for this exhibition of artistic research projects, together with colleagues from the research masters Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam.

The exhibition took place 1-2 June 2018 at 4bid Gallery, OT301, Amsterdam. Through extensive interviews with the artists, the curation and my program text organised the works according to common aspects: enquiries specific to the medium analysed, deeply political aims, desires to address non-academic audiences, or developments of intimate self-reflection. Photos by Roselinde Bon and Oliver Tänzer, and program design by Lacey Verhalen.

Read the full text and view the archived version of the exhibition on the website for Soapbox: Journal for Cultural analysis (another of my projects). Sample below:

How can analysis take shape? The many different artefacts collected in the exhibition Thinking Through Things each suggest their own answers to this question. Eleven students from the research masters Cultural Analysis, at the University of Amsterdam, attempted there to make their research tangible. Developing concepts and approaches to culture normally reserved for academic writing, the pieces gathered here address what is impossible to put only into words — moving their ideas off the page and beyond the academy.

These artworks, images and objects allowed the students — most of them non-professional artists — to develop skills generally incompatible with written work, finding also that the often physical and literally creative processes of sewing, sculpting, editing and drawing shed new light on the ideas already developed in their written research. Dealing with the immense stress produced during thesis writing meant that many of these projects — though themselves labour-intensive — offered a therapeutic counterpoint to the rationalism and linear, ‘causal linkage’ required by traditional academic writing.


While composed in these ways by very distinct individuals with even more distinct interests, skills and experiences, each author’s reflections nevertheless reveal a great deal of common cause in their processes. After two years learning together, these eleven students share much more than a particular vocabulary — despite some affectionately describing themselves as a ‘cult of analysis’. Among other things: a high degree of self-reflection and a sharp suspicion of orthodoxy and appearances, but combined with a striking openness to new knowledges — a kind of intellectual generosity, or humility in never having the last word.