Duration: 10.2001 - 12.2001, 10.2004 - 01.2005, 05.2005 - 06.2005
Location: Witte de With, Rotterdam; Taipei Biennial, Taipei; Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna
Participants: 45 groups, 5 groups, 14 groups
Visitors: people who visited the exhibitions
Number of Events: 2, 1,15
When Witte de With invited Van Heeswijk to participate in an exhibition called 'Squatters 2', she initially reacted with some scepticism. She wondered what it meant for such an institution to choose what she viewed as a politically laden exhibition theme. The poster she designed for 'Squatters' symbolically illustrates her own standpoint as well as that of Witte de With. In addition to the name and date of the exhibition, the poster has a big white area marked 'plakken mag binnen de lijnen' ('posting permitted within the lines'). Rotterdam had recently banned posting without an official permit, the city council making 'A-0' billboards available for rent as an alternative. Van Heeswijk regards this regulation of what was once a free-for-all as symbolic of the limitation of civil liberties in general. Within the institutionalised framework, she used her posters to provide space for anyone to publicize his or her activities in the city.
For the exhibition space, she proposed a closer look at what squatting meant for the city of Rotterdam. Het Papieren Huis (A Paper House) (2001) is a sculptural collage made in collaboration with Rolf Engelen, Siebe Thissen and Frans Vermeer, combining documents, posters, pictures and photographs of the Rotterdam squatter movement, past and present - telling the story of activists, artists and young people who fought against capitalism and housing shortages, establishing their own communes, initiating campaigns - by appropriating the many layers of posters illegally posted over the years on a kiosk in the city centre. Engelen rescued these when the kiosk was demolished, building panels sawn out of the thick layers of posters into a symbolic shelter. Although a paper house suggests fragility, affording little protection to the homeless, the artists transformed this precariousness into strength by using the peeling layers of weathered paper to evoke resistant, alternative voices calling for a more just world
A fanzine to hand out to visitors was also published, with texts, documents and visual material about squatting, along with two evening events: one with Socialfiction.org & Urban Explorations, and the other with Arjen Mulder and Saskia Poldervaart.
Each showing of the work incorporates new materials from the context in which it is exhibited - with its local housing problems and squatting practices - making the work resonate in ways both general and specific. When the house was shown in 'Do You Believe in Reality?' at the 'Taipei Biennial in 2004, Van Heeswijk fully updated the Rotterdam archive and, with Rolf Engelen, added a new section on the Taipei squatting scene. After Taipei, W H Y displayed the house in the exhibition 'freibesetzt' in Kunsthalle Exnergasse in Vienna, also expanding it with a local section.
click here for panorama photo