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The Office for Curating
The Office for Curating is the generic name for a curatorial practice and an agency, formalised and established in 2012 by Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk, and currently active in and from Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Both the naming and the seeming neutrality of this hybrid institute have been instigated to generate a buffer between oneself and the world, but foremost to be inclusive and responsive towards a multiplicity of different complexities, conditions, and temporalities, and to allow these influences to enter the frame and approach them curatorially. In that, The Office for Curating acts as an assembler of a growing programme of exhibitions (including publications, texts, and speech acts) and as a support structure for initiating exhibitions as a rise to the occasion – presented in different shapes and configurations, along different temporal structures and rhythms, as hosted by different institutions.Preceded and represented by the image of a desk – commonly referred to as The Kidney or sometimes The President Desk, designed by Cees Braakman in 1962 – The Office for Curating is looking to expand and advance curatorial research methods and methodologies, as prompted by a physically grounded desk structure as an assembling template. Here, the desk’s surface facilitates an assembly of resources and their subsequent reshuffling and displacing from within a single space to a multitude of external locations, from fragments into analogies of examples and social assemblages. In that, The Office for Curating takes a strong interest in curatorial practice as a tool for thinking contemporary society through artistic practices. It examines social and political issues such as daily living and working conditions, cultural norms and ideologies – often intersected and informed by fictional devices and texts (scopic and non-scopic, audible and inaudible) as a means of approaching exhibitions more dimensionally, and to foreground a speculative response towards addressing complexity and working with it.
Niekolaas Johannes LekkerkerkNiekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk (Rotterdam, 1988) works as a curator and a writer. He holds a BA in Art History and Visual Culture from the University of Utrecht, and an MA in Curating from the London Metropolitan University, delivered in conjunction with the Whitechapel Gallery. He has worked at a number of institutions including SMBA (Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam) and DRAF (David Roberts Art Foundation), and most recently as Curatorial Fellow at TENT in Rotterdam.
In September 2012 he founded The Office for Curating, which is currently based in Rotterdam. Recent exhibition projects include the group exhibition Tradition Doesn't Graduate (2016) at Komplot, Brussels; the group exhibition Spending Quality Time With My Quantified Self (2016) at TENT, Rotterdam; Sliding under Traces (2016), a solo exhibition by Paul Geelen at A Tale of a Tub, Rotterdam; the group exhibition The Earthbound (2015) at Cannonball, Miami; All Begins With A (2015), a solo exhibition by Janneke van der Putten at TENT, Rotterdam; the group exhibition The Museum of Unconditional Surrender (2015) at TENT, Rotterdam; the group exhibition Percussive Hunter (2015) at Akbank Sanat, Istanbul; the group exhibition John Smith, the Posthuman (2014) at the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht; The Ringenberg Biennale (2014) at Schloss Ringenberg, Hamminkeln; the group exhibition Suite (Botanique) (2014) for the Gaudeamus Muziekweek, Utrecht; the group exhibition On the Estonian Theatre: Twelve Proposals for Rakvere (2014) for Kilometre of Sculpture, Rakvere; the group exhibition Ways of Working, According to an Office Desk (2014) at Upominki, Rotterdam; the group exhibition Livre Imaginé – Dans Cinquante Ans d'Ici (2014) at Les Territoires, Montreal; the group exhibition Within the Sound of Your Voice for the 5th Marrakech Biennale (2014); the duo-exhibition All the Pieces, Back Together (2013) at Selma Feriani Gallery, London; the group exhibition Shadows of a Doubt (2013) at Tallinn Art Hall, Tallinn; the group exhibition The Great Indoors (2013) at Motive Gallery, Brussels; the group exhibition Can’t Hear My Eyes (2013) at NoguerasBlanchard, Barcelona & Madrid; the duo-exhibition Two in the Wave (2013) at Printroom, Rotterdam; and the group exhibition Artists of the No (2012) at Projektraum Viktor Bucher, as part of Curated by_Vienna 2012.
He edited the anthology and hypothetical catalogue None of the Above (2011) on curating and the curatorial in the key of fiction. His publications include, among others, 'Untitled’ (Constants Are Changing) on the works of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, published in 2010. He has contributed to a number of magazines, among Art Licks, Cura., Estonian Art and Metropolis M. In 2012 he was the recipient of the inaugural NEON Curatorial Award at The Whitechapel Gallery, in recognition of his fiction and literature-based approach to curating. Recently, he was awarded the Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition 2014.
Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk is a member of IKT – International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art
In my curating and writing practice I am mostly concerned with social and political discourses that revolve around daily living and working conditions, cultural norms and ideologies, often grounded in the key of making an enquiry into different modes of being and forms of existence in the world, and thinking radical forms of otherness through differing – allowing for human thought to acquire nonhuman perspective. In that, I seek for the conceptual integration of theoretical, fictional and speculative dimensions and the time and space of an exhibition – the exhibition as a form of ecological thinking and patchwork-making that gives shape to social assemblages, a diplomatic zone inclusive towards a plurality of perspectives and complexities entering into the frame.
Through my work I aim to advocate the loosening of thought from the constraints of human phenomenality. This idea is practiced through curating as a tool for thinking and finding one's inscription into contemporaneity through artistic practices, activated and enabled as to engineer new domains of experience in which speculative aesthetics and metamorphic zones put forward prompts and triggers rendering ourselves more affective and sensitive towards the idea of the human as a constantly becoming, far from stable, unified, and autonomous life form.
Herein my basic units of interest and research trajectories include: nature-culture debates (Anthropocene, Capitalocene), identity-formation and selfhood in digital environments and within advanced-capitalist, the exhibition as an ecological container and assembling ground, cosmopolitics, and the intersection of fiction, literature and contemporary art. More recently I have taken interest in developing projects around the idea of what it means to jointly conceive of ‘livable ecologies’ in the wake of the Anthropocene and within advanced-capitalist societies; the politics of location in coming to grips with inter-agentivity, intersectionality and multi-species thinking and becoming with other modes of being in the world; the idea of “thinking without the head” as a way to approach non-cognitive entities, among the fields of plant ontology and communication; the development of diplomatic, generative and imaginative exhibitionary templates that surpass the persistent, often preempted divisions between object and subject, nature and culture; the interconnections between language performativity, communication processes and the fleshed existence in relation to digital and technological manifestations within the frame of advanced-capitalism; theories of access, matter, and materially-discursive practices; curating as process ontology; sonic and acoustic imagination; acting out in a time-pressured culture of high-performance; the complexity of the present as a-temporal and untimely, among other analogies of examples.