Adrien Tirtiaux’s architectural installations channel a new form of political opposition.
Recent austerity measures taken by the Dutch government have slashed cultural funding for the Netherlands by 21%. The major cuts to individual artist grants and funds for institutional research will go into effect next month, and while some small institutions subsequently have gone under, others are bracing themselves for the upcoming changes.
The Great Cut is Belgian artist Adrien Tirtiaux’s response to this shift. The project, a performative architectural intervention, was on view at Stroom Den Haag as part of the Fall 2012 exhibition Expanded Performance. The accumulative sculpture occupied 21% of Stroom’s site, imposing a physical obstruction to the center for art and architecture that both mirrored the economic impediment and encouraged conflict and consensus to surface. The work was produced in tandem with a series of discussions with the members of Stroom’s staff, who collectively navigated the conceptual, aesthetic, and logistical problems introduced by the project’s invasiveness. The intervention began in the office spaces, where the budget cuts will be most severe, and moved out into the exhibition space in stages over the course of the exhibition. I sat down with the artist in December, among the sounds of construction at Stroom to discuss the unfolding narrative of The Great Cut.
Annie Godfrey Larmon As the progress of The Great Cut has been inflected heavily by the site of Stroom, perhaps you could talk about how the project was conceived and how it changed when you arrived in The Hague?
Adrien Tirtiaux I’ve noticed that when I am invited to work within a specific context, I am drawn to the problematic situations within a site. I hate working with a white cube. I’ve found it is better to have a bad space, or disturbing elements with which to engage. It’s been interesting for me to thematize problems, rather than provide solutions. I have many Dutch friends, and for the last two or three years, all anyone can talk about are the cuts, the cuts. It seems as though the symbolic problem engages more thought than the work that is shown in the galleries.