Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ben in Holland 1963-2013

[Ben Vautier]
Ben in Holland 1963-2013
Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Cult Club, 2013
[unpaginated], 31 x 21.5 cm., staplebound
Edition of 100

This beautifully produced, hand-bound book featuring texts by Jeannette Dekeukeleire and Harry Ruhe (who recently opened Cult Club together) is published on the occasion of the exhibition of same name held at artKITCHEN Gallery & Galerie A, from the 28th of September to the 26th of October, of last year.

Modelled after Vautier's legendary 1963 artist book Ben Dieu (below), the catalogue has the appearance of an artists'  publication, and bears the hallmarks of all of Ruhe's productions, beginning with Fluxus: the most radical and experimental art movement of the sixties, in 1979. The book includes tipped in photographs, newspaper clippings, facsimile reproductions of Vautier's handwritten correspondence (much of it to Ruhe) and other ephemera. It also includes a chronology of Vautier's activity in Holland, much of which took place at Ruhe's Galerie A, and a folded card exhibition invitation.

"In July 1958 Ben Vautier bought a shop in the Rue Tondutti de l'escarène in Nice, France. After the purchase, he took a piece of wood, wrote the word ‘Discothèque’ on it and hung it above the front door. Another sign was added to the first not much later. The records were sold at half price. More signs were placed in front of his store which eventually gave the impression of a junk shop.

For years ben could be found at the porch of his store. He had discussions with passersby, ran actions and organized events with fellow artists. It made him the focal point of what would later be called: École de Nice.

In 1964 Ben was visited by Ad Peterson, who at the time was a curator of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. He witnessed Ben placing a chair in the middle of the road, again with a written text board. He sat down while the traffic raged on: regarded moi cela suffit je suis art."

- Ben in Holland 

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