Rib is pleased to present an artist talk by Haseeb Ahmed; an occasion to delve into the vortex of his work and thought. With the intention of engaging deeper with artists’ practices, Rib invited Ahmed to conduct his project Taming the Horror Vacui from (January 2020—July 2021). Now one year into the program, Ahmed will present insights from the wide range of contributions and experiments that have come about both personally and through engagements with the various invited participants.
We live in the fluid medium of air; life as we know it exists only in the relatively thin membrane of the atmosphere. Ahmed elaborates on how the movement of air permeates our thoughts, our bodies, and our built environment. The notion of horror vacui was how Aristotle explained the way winds and water move—perpetually filling voids. Taming the Horror Vacui takes its name from a (1973) essay by German historian Ettingshausen who saw medieval Islamic art to be an attempt to ward off feared empty space—an instance of how these fluid realities infect our psyche. As the core of this 18-month process, Ahmed has constructed a wind tunnel at Rib to model the voids at the heart of every vortex and to observe those voids which are created by models. The wind tunnel’s intake of air from the city beyond Rib’s walls creates three distinct vortexes around which the installation is organized.
In 2008 Ahmed placed a sword in the MIT Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel to produce an infinite cut through the air, and since then he has worked with the wind—and sometimes against it—to produce art. In order to give form to that which is otherwise invisible, Ahmed works with practitioners from a variety of disciplines. To support this approach to transdisciplinary work, practitioners from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds have been invited to Rib to give site-specific talks as sessions.
Details Online lecture
23.03.2021, 18:30–21:00 CET
Meeting ID: 875 5251 6603
Rib is pleased to present a talk by artist James Beckett, A Seedless Grape – Conditions for Air. This talk is part of Haseeb Ahmed’s Taming the Horror Vacui, a long-term project (January 2020–June 2021).
The notion of the Horror Vacui tells us that “nature abhors a vacuum” and explains that air moves to fill voids wherever they may exist. This may be so in open atmosphere but at ground-level many factors shape the movement of wind. Rib and Haseeb Ahmed invite artist James Beckett to walk us through his current research on the history and broader cultural implications of air conditioning. This research was sparked by the fact that his current studio is the first building to be truly air conditioned, when it was a printing house back in 1902.
In Session 3 Emiel Arendts showed us how the wind shapes and is shaped by the architecture of the city. For Session 6, Beckett will address air-conditioning as “artefactual event”—an ephemeral entity, which is manufactured, distributed then dispersed. Beckett’s practice explores such histories concerned with industrial development and the built environment. 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.
This talk is site-specific to Haseeb Ahmed’s Taming the Horror Vacui program at Rib. Ahmed often works with the wind, and over the last few months he and Beckett have collaborated on a wind tunnel test of a failed invention from 1934, namely the ‘Coolrest’—“an air-conditioned tent that you can erect over your bed, in your own bed-room!” (brought to light by Salvatore Basile, in his book Cool: How Air Conditioning Changed Everything). The wind tunnel has been created by Ahmed at Rib as an experimental set up to study how objects interact with the wind and how practitioners of various disciplines interact with one another.
James Beckett’s talk will be the subject of Issue #6 of the Taming the Horror Vacui publication edited by Piero Bisello.
Details Online lecture
Meeting ID: 828 6871 6719
Rib is pleased to present a lecture by writer, editor, and curator Anja Isabel Schneider, Swell. This talk is part of Taming the Horror Vacui, a long-term project (January 2020–June 2021) at Rib, cultivating a deeper engagement with Ahmed’s practice.
Anja Isabel Schneider’s current research explores the interactions of art with science and psychoanalysis with a special interest in performativity and ecologies of resistance, the relationship between spatial practices and writing, text and physicality. Schneider links Allan Sekula’s “staging [of] the wind” to Haseeb Ahmed’s ongoing wind tunnel experiment at Rib, and to questions of scale, liminality and human agency they both address.
Swell takes up the dialogue between Ahmed and Schneider, initiated in Antwerp on the occasion of his solo exhibition Haseeb Ahmed – The Wind Egg at M HKA (2018). The lecture’s title [from the German word “schwellen”] references Walter Benjamin’s definition of a threshold [Schwelle], significant to articulating space and time present in the way both Sekula thinks of the port and Ahmed the wind tunnel.
In keeping the spirit of Sekula’s critical engagement with the port of Rotterdam, her lecture will address the wind as an animating agent in Allan Sekula’s final work Ship of Fools/The Dockers’ Museum (2010–2013) and with it the space of reflection where the artist situates his project: the interstitial space of the harbor. Its relationality to other ports, to other docks, makes it a space of potential linkage points.
In part, this lecture inscribes itself into the larger research project Art Against the Grain of “Collective Sisyphus”: The Case of Allan Sekula’s Ship of Fools / The Dockers’ Museum (2010–2013), jointly developed by M HKA and the Lieven Gevaert Centre at KU Leuven and UCLouvain, with professor Hilde Van Gelder as promotor, and supported by the Research Fund KU Leuven, the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO), M HKA and the Allan Sekula Studio.
The fourth session of Taming the Horror Vacui: Time for the Wind inaugurates the specially designed wind tunnel with a lecture and workshop by Prof. Olivier Chazot, Head of the Aeronautics and Aerospace Department at the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics.
Wind tunnels are made to model natural phenomena but in order to do so, they create a condition that could exist only in an idealized nature: Laminar flow, or straight-moving air. Taming the Horror Vacui uses the wind tunnel to delve into the paradoxical nature of fluidity and our attempts to order it. By making the movements of fluid visible we can deepen our understanding of how the flow of fluids relate to the flow of time.
In addition to his research on how atmospheric conditions interact with vehicles at high-altitudes and hypersonic speeds, Chazot uses a philosophical approach based on phenomenology to consider the experiences scientific method cannot account for. His lecture will elaborate on the relationship between these two scientific and philosophical viewpoints while his workshop will invite the public to experiment with the wind tunnel and the movement of air and metaphors it contains.
16 September 2020, 18:00–21:00
Lecture by Prof. Olivier Chazot (von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics)
17 September 2020, 18:00–21:00
Workshop with Prof. Olivier Chazot
In keeping with regulations related to the pandemic, the lecture and workshop have limited capacity, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. The public lecture will be streamed live over zoom for online viewing.
This third session entitled Wind in the City is a walk through Rotterdam. Led by Emiel Arends, a spatial advisor and urban planner of the City of Rotterdam, we will stop at selected built interventions and public artworks made with the hidden intention of shaping the invisible but very physical effects of the wind.
Duration: approx. 2 hours
Start: Wilheminapier, Landverhuizersplein 2-52, Rotterdam
Destination: Rotterdam Centraal Station
As Arends explains, in a modern city like Rotterdam buildings tend to be bigger, longer, and higher compared to classical European cities, central Amsterdam being a Dutch counter-example. An (unforeseen) effect of higher buildings is the effect it has on the wind in the city. If care is not taken, higher buildings can produce “urban wind canyons.” From the perspective of urban planning, certain locations in Rotterdam require alteration after construction to diminish unforeseen “wind nuisance” which can have dangerous effects on the ground-level of the city and cause debilitating psychological stress.
The existence of awkward canopies, oddly placed public artworks, and timid clusters of trees one sees around the city can be explained as measures to dampen these unforeseen winds. The possibilities of researching wind patterns has advanced in the last decade, increasing the ability to anticipate what wind conditions will emerge after a building is made. This leads to out of the box thinking from architects and urban planners who seek to design with the wind in mind. Both the ignorance and awareness of the effects of the wind in the public realm has led to remarkable interventions resulting in a city that is partly shaped by the wind.
We are happy to continue to explore and forge connections between Haseeb Ahmed's work and the city of Rotterdam. With the generous help and insights of Emiel Arends, we can better conceptualize and make these connections concrete. One of Ahmed’s fascinations is the transition from a landscape being shaped by the wind also known as Aeolian Landscapes to the wind being shaped by the landscape. One can only imagine the sudden transformation of Rotterdam into an intensely windy environment after the bombardments during WWII that destroyed the buildings which once blocked the wind.
Paradoxically, this was to the advantage of those millers left standing who could increase their production of flour which relied on windmills during a time of acute food shortages. A city rebuilt on the sudden emptiness of both the stomach and habitat was also deprived of the possibility of organic and slow growth known to the old city. The reconstruction took place with relative speed which perfectly fit the modern spirit and techniques of contemporary manufacturing that paradoxically were also innovated through the war. A vision of society with advancing technology and new visions of architecture emerged.
Art in public space played an important role in the post-war reconstruction of Rotterdam and helped to fuel the city’s renewed identity and outlook. As Arends will show, art in public space took some interesting and inadvertent turns. As building in open space led to unforeseen wind issues, public art became a handy way to mitigate “wind nuisance.” Looking at public art through the lens of wind, we can see that potentially every artwork in public space must have another hidden utility.
Rib is pleased to announce the second session of Taming the Horror Vacui: Modeling Tyrannies and Turbulences. Models require and facilitate abstract thinking and this brings them close to ideals, but can these ideals ever be fulfilled? How does the promise of perfection inherent in models, regulate our relationship to our gritty realities—from the scale our bodies to our cities?
Artist Haseeb Ahmed and Rib invites artist Michiel Huijben to give a public workshop on 30 March 2020 during which we will construct spatial models of a concept given by Huijben.
On 16 April 2020, Paolo Patelli, an artist, researcher and architect, responds to the question “What role do models play in constructing the experience of our material realities?” in an online talk.
These events are part of the 1.5-year-long program Taming the Horror Vacui which broadly takes up the role of the wind in our lives. Models of city masterplans and buildings are used in wind tunnels to anticipate how they will effect and be effected by the wind. However, architectural models are used to project into and determine the future or reconstruct distant pasts. How do models and wind tunnels both relate to a broader attempt to wrestle with uncertainty?
The traces of the interaction that happens between the invited participants, the neighbourhood, the public, and Ahmed are retained by this installation at Rib. The evolving installation acts as a pedestal to host this interaction with our invited participants and these key questions. The Library of the Winds is now erect as river reeds are animated by circulating winds who’s face, we can finally see under specific conditions constructed at Rib.
Schedule Session #2
Workshop by Michiel Huijben: 30 March 2020, 18:00-21:00
If you wish to participate, please RSVP to email@example.com.
Online talk by Paolo Patelli: 16 April 2020, 18:00-20:00
Join us on Zoom. https://zoom.us/j/508182437 ID: 508 182 437<>
As the first workshop at Rib or Taming the Horror Vacui is conducted by artist Michèle Matyn and convened by Haseeb Ahmed. We will start from the beginning: where does the wind come from?
Throughout history wind has been associated with vitality and the divine creation. In Genesis God first blew over the dark waters of the void to bring all into being. In Ancient Greece the Shrines of Oracles were built atop the vents releasing volcanic fumes. When inhaled the Oracle was granted the ability to see into the future. Michèle Matyn travelled the world searching for “Ademgaten”, or “breathing holes”, in preparation for her eponymous exhibition at MuHKA in 2017.
For the workshop at Rib we will seek out “Ademgaten” and find ways to read time in the sounds of the wind. Materials and methods will be provided by Matyn and Rib.
To participate in the workshops please reserve a place via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schedule Session #1
Thursday 6 February 2020
10:00-18:00 – Public laboratory – Ahmed constructing the installation
Friday 7 February 2020
10:00-18:00 – Public laboratory – Ahmed constructing the installation
Monday 10 February 2020
17:00-21:00 – Rib open
18:00-20:00 – Public Workshop
Tuesday 11 February 2020
17:00-21:00 – Rib open
18:00-20:00 – Public Lecture with Q&A
Materials, food and drinks will be provided by Rib. Prior to the workshop Ahmed will continue building and working on the installation.
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.
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.
Piero Bisello is the Editorial Director at Conceptual Fine Arts, an online art writing platform and gallery visiting program in Milan. He has a background in art history and analytic philosophy, with degrees from KU Leuven and Erasmus University Rotterdam. Among other topics, his editorial work has focused on artist publications and artist books. He has been based in Brussels since 2011.
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.
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.