Kunstinstituut Melly

John Ahearn & Rigoberto Torres

09 Sep 2018 - 20 Jan 2019

At the occasion of their 1991 exhibition at Witte de With, John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres realized a project with the institution’s neighbors in the Cool district, Rotterdam, resulting in a series of outdoor portrait sculptures.
The participating residents now share their experiences.
Photo: Bob Goedewaagen.
9 September 2018 – 20 January 2019

In 1991, New York artists John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres were commissioned to carry out a public art project in Rotterdam, to be presented in conjunction to their exhibition South Bronx Hall of Fame at Witte de With. To create it, they engaged eight residents of the city’s Cool district, which is also the neighborhood of this institution. In their effort to make art that portrays people in everyday life situations—rather than, say, heroes represented in public monuments or statues—the artists created bust portraits of each of the eight people and hung these sculptures in building facades throughout Cool. Some of the portrayed participants were young then; some older in age. Some of the sculptures figuring them remain in their original site; some were eventually removed.

Earlier this year, we reached out to the former participants to see where they were then in life, and where they are now. Not all continue living in Cool, but all are still based in Rotterdam, for the exception of one, who has passed away. We also went to seek out the remaining sculptures on-site, and brought along with us the photographer who originally documented the process and project in 1991. Untitled features a display of archival images and documentation, as well as newly commissioned photo portraits of the original participants and testimonies about their experience of Cool and of working with Ahearn and Torres. This presentation is in the one of two vitrines in Untitled especially devoted for displays that draw from Witte de With’s rich exhibition history.

Curators: Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Jessy Koeiman

Tags: John Ahearn, Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Jessy Koeiman, Rigoberto Torres