Taming the Horror Vacui | Haseeb Ahmed & guests

2020 – 2021

Rib presents Taming the Horror Vacui—a 1,5-year-long program unfolding the practice of artist Haseeb Ahmed (US/BE) in public, who has worked for over ten years with and around the phenomenon of wind exploring many of its guises. The trajectory consists of an evolving installation in Rib, a publication, and a series of workshops, lectures, and excursions.

The program entangles Ahmed’s practice with Rib and its global and local environment in Rotterdam-Zuid through the phenomenon of the wind. Wind is treated as a material and conceptual force, as model, instrument, and framework of architectural, meteorological, technological, mythological, art-historical, socio-political, economic, and recreational imagination. This program convenes practitioners from a variety of disciplines to elaborate on each of these aspects.

With: Haseeb Ahmed, Michèle Matyn, Michiel Huijben, Paolo Patelli, Emiel Arends, Ralf Wetzel, Anja Isabel Schneider, Olivier Chazot, Leen Scholiers, Peutz Group, Barbara Baert, Piero Bisello, Modelvliegclub Europoort (MVE), Pieter Heremans, among others.

Taming the Horror Vacui is kindly supported by the municipality of Rotterdam, Mondriaan Fund, Creative Industries Fund NL, VSB Fonds and the experimenteerreglement kunstenaarshonorarium of the Mondriaan Fund.

Read more here.

Biographies participants

Haseeb Ahmed is a research-based artist. Originally from the US, he now lives and works in Brussels. He produces objects, site-specific installations, films, and writes for various publications. Often working collaboratively, Ahmed integrates methodologies from the hard sciences into his art production. His recently completed Wind Egg Trilogy blends art and aeronautics, myth and technology, to create new narratives for the present. It was developed with Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (VKI) in Brussels for and was the subject of his first solo exhibition Harlan Levey Projects in Brussels who now represents him, his solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary art of Antwerp (BE), as well as the topic of his PhD in practice-based arts completed in 2018 as a collaboration between the VKI, University of Antwerp, Saint Lucas Antwerp School of Art and Design,and Zurich University of the Arts. Ahmed has been a lecturer at the latter two art universities as well as the Royal Academy of the Art in The Hague. His work with the wind and science began during his Masters from the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, completed in 2010. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Ahmed has been a resident at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht (NL), the Skowhegan School of Sculpture and Painting (US), a EU Commission STARTS Vertigo resident at the Brain and Emotion Laboratory at the University of Maastricht, La Becque Foundation among others. His work has been exhibited internationally including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (US), The Gothenburg International Biennial of Contemporary Art (SE), and De Appel in Amsterdam (NL).

Emiel Arends works as a senior advisor on urban affairs for the city of Rotterdam. He is the author of the new high-rise vision of Rotterdam’s cityscape and is involved in numerous Inner-city developments. Arends is also a lecturer in the department of water management at the Rotterdam University.

Barbara Baert (1967) is Professor in Medieval Art, Iconology and Historiography at the KU Leuven. Her research projects show a determined interdisciplinary dialogue within the humanities and can be regarded from three main angles: the methodological space between text and image, the impact of the sensorium in the visual arts, and finally critical reflection on the art historical discipline. Author of more than 80 articles, c. 100 chapters in books, 30 books and 16 edited volumes, Barbara Baert was honored with several awards, among which the most prestigious is the Francqui Prize for Human Sciences in 2016. In November 2017 she was knighted in recognition of her public service as Commandeur in the Belgian Order of Leopold. She was invited as a guest professor at numerous universities in Europe, Japan and the United States. Baert was Fellow at the Internationales Kolleg für Kulturforschung und Medienphilosophie (IKKM) of the Weimar Bauhaus Universität (2015), at the Istituto di Studi Avanzati of the Università di Bologna (2018), at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2019), and at the Center of Excellence BildEvidenz of the Freie Universität Berlin (2020). She is a member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium, and of the Academia Europaea. She is the founder and editor in chief of four academic series, amongst others, Studies in Iconology (Peeters Publishers). Her most recent books are Fragments (A celebratory glossary of her oeuvre) (Peeters: 2018), What about Enthusiasm (Peeters: 2019), Interruptions & Transitions. Collected Essays on the Senses in Medieval and Early Modern Visual Culture (Brill: 2019), About Sieves and Sieving. Motif, Symbol, Technique, Paradigm (De Gruyter: 2019), The Weeping Rock. Revisiting Niobe through Paragone, Pathosformel and Petrification (Studies in Iconology, 17), Leuven-Walpole, 2020, Signed PAN (Studies in Iconology, 18), Leuven-Walpole, 2020, and From Kairos to Occasio along Fortuna. Text / Image / Afterlife. On the Antique Critical Moment, a Grisaille in Mantua (School of Mantegna, 1495-1510) and The Fortunes of Aby Warburg (1866-1929), Brepols & Harvey Miller, 2021 (at press); Looking Into the Rain. Magic-Moisture-Medium (De Gruyter: 2021) (at press).

Born in 1977 in Harare, Zimbabwe, James Beckett lives and works in Amsterdam and New York. Beckett’s research-based practice explores overlooked histories concerned with industrial development and the built environment. His resulting installations and works for public space deal with cultural signs that shape our experience in the modern era. Key in Beckett’s work is the focus on the physicality of historically laden objects. Through anecdotal accounts of little-known artists, inventors and workers, he shapes a romantic reading of peripheral historical eves. His approach considers proximity—how close is one able to come to a given subject through tertiary bodies, and what are the implications of their given traces? In the amassing of his own collections, and working with those of museums, Beckett activates objects in order to unpack their abstract and metaphysical potential, often employing the absurd and uncanny to form new perspectives on formative events.James Beckett is in residency at the ISCP, NYC, 2020/21 and has exhibited at the Belgian Pavilion of the Venice Biennale; MAAT, Lisbon; MCAD Manila, The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, amongst others. He is tutor at Base for Experiment Art and Research, Arnhem; guest tutor at Fine Art and Studio for Immediate Spaces at the Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam; and mentor for the Mondriaan Foundation. His work is represented by galleries: T293, Rome; Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam and Markus Lüttgen, Dusseldorf.

Michiel Huijben is an artist departing from architecture and its objects to create texts, performance lectures and videos. Through these media he searches for ways to intervene in the seemingly rigid and unchangeable architecture of our immediate environment. He studied Fine Art at the St. Joost Academy in Breda (BFA) and the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam (MFA), where he finished in 2008. In 2013, he did a short track residency at De Ateliers in Amsterdam, followed by an MA in architectural history and theory at the Cass, London. Shortly afterwards, he started the publishing project Flat i. In recent years his work has been presented at, among others: UMPRUM, Prague; Kunsthalle Basel; Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris; die Angewandte, Vienna; De Appel, Amsterdam; W-O-L-K-E, Brussels; Stadsschouwburg, Amsterdam; Min-, Rotterdam; Extra City Kunsthal, Antwerp; Matt’s Gallery, London; and That Might Be Right, Brussels. He has lectured at several institutions and currently teaches artistic research and writing at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, where he lives and works.

Michèle Matyn lives and works in Antwerp. She has developed a multifaceted practice that incorporates photography, sculpture, installation and performance. Her work looks at the ways myths and folklore are created in societies, often through our perception of and interaction with nature. Matyn’s works often begin with a journey, often to locations unfamiliar to the artist and with little sign of human interference, encountering places and situations that might inspire belief in the supernatural and the unknown. Her works typically feel ‘homespun’ evoking esoteric culture and the anthropomorphic gaze onto the outer world. The crux of Matyn’s work lies in seeking the intersection where human projection onto the non-human meets the natural world with its own existence outside of human consciousness. Matyn’s exhibition Breathing holes is being developed in response to recent travels the artist has undertaken in regions of France, North Ossetia and China. She has been producing a body of new photographs and sculptures that depict natural forms she encountered which are reminiscent of human or animal respiration systems, considering objects and spaces as living entities. Including a selection of recent works, Matyn’s exhibition will be formulated as an environment, bringing together different forms, characters and encounters. The artist will also use the space as a setting for performances—a central facet of her practice—which offer further reflection on the relations between humans and the natural world.

Saadia Mirza works as an architect by training and has taught the last 8 years on a range of subjects including architecture, design, media arts, ethnography, and visual and spatial analysis. Mirza’s most recent project was conducted in conversation with archaeologists at the CAMEL Lab at the University of Chicago and focuses on visualizing conflict and militarization in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Mirza is currently in conversation with glaciologists at ETH Zürich, the University of Chicago and Université Paris Diderot while working on a project on the sounds of historic Antarctic ice events and is working on a film based on fieldwork on the Rhone glacier in the Swiss Alps informed by scientists at ETH in Zurich. Mirza is a PhD candidate in the social sciences at the University of Chicago and currently an artist-in-residence at Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris and adjunct faculty at Sciences Po, Paris/Reims.

Paolo Patelli is an architect, artist, and researcher. Through often collaborative enquiries, he engages critically and by design with the materialities, scenes and atmospheres at the intersections of space and society, technologies and environments. Patelli has exhibited internationally, including in the Dutch Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia in 2018. He led a collaborative project commissioned by MAO and Moderna Galerija for BIO26, the 26th Biennial of Design in Ljubljana. He has a research position at the Design Academy Eindhoven (Associate Lecturer Places and Traces), he is a Tutor at the Studio for Immediate Spaces at the Sandberg Instituut and a 2019/2020 Research Fellow at Het Nieuwe Instituut. He holds a PhD from Politecnico di Milano. Patelli lives and works in Amsterdam.

Anja Isabel Schneider is a writer, editor, and curator. She holds an MA in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art and an MFA in Curating from Goldsmiths, University of London. From 2015 to 2020, she was a PhD fellow in Curatorial Research at the Lieven Gevaert Centre (LGC), KU Leuven / M HKA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp. In this position she worked towards the exhibition Mermaid Honeymoon. A curatorial reflection on Allan Sekula’s Ship of Fools / The Dockers’ Museum, M HKA, Antwerp (2020); Allan Sekula. Collective Sisyphus, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona / Koenig Books, London (2019) (co-curated / co-edited with Hilde Van Gelder and Carles Guerra). Schneider lectures internationally and has participated in research projects and curatorial residencies, among others Performing a Workshop, La Ene, Nuevo Museo Energía de Arte Contemporáneo, Buenos Aires (2013–2014); de uma língua para outra / from one language to another, JA.CA – Center of Art and Technology, Belo Horizonte (2014) and Rond-Point Projects, Marseille (2015). Her writing has appeared in magazines, exhibition catalogs and artist monographs. In 2011, she was the laureate of the 4th edition of MARCO / Frac Lorraine Award for Young Curators.

Leen Scholiers (1984) is a tantric yoga teacher and sexuality coach for women and couples. She is the host of the Sublime Woman Summit, that gathered 2500 women in 2020, and has been devoted to the path of transformation for the last 6 years. The foundational roots of the methodology she teaches are in classical Tantra, neo-Tantra, Taoism, Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS), Body-Mind Mapping and Dynamic Breathwork.