"'Politics is not the exercise of, or struggle for power', but instead 'consist in reconfigurating the distribution of the sensible.' The dream of a suitable political work of art is in fact the dream of disrupting the relationship between the visible, the sayable, and the thinkable without having to use the terms of a message as a vehicle. It is a dream of an art that would transmit meanings in the form of a rupture with the very logic of meaningful situations."
My name is Edwin Stolk and before I went to the art academy I received a military training and worked in the transport sector. This is the basis of my socially engaged art practice. Culture means shared meaning in which everyone can participate. I noticed that this is often not self-evident. When I mention the word 'art' in public, I often feel a certain distance. Isn't that strange when you consider that the world is most of all a visual experience? That is why I am an artistic service provider, together with others I organize art projects on social issues at various locations. I work closely with my wife Hristina Tasheva on these projects, who also documents the work.
At the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (2002 – 2007) I discovered the philosophical theories of Maurice Merleau Ponty. I recognized myself in his description of the painter Paul Cezanne and the artist as a radical phenomenologist. He gave direction to my thinking about the role of science. It was Merleau Ponty who described the importance of a 'pre-scientific' approach in relation to 'reality'. As human beings we are not an 'object' in, but connected with and therefore available to the world. Nothing just exists on its own. That is why I focus on context-dependent art projects that often arise temporarily from special collaborations.
Quantum scientist David Bohm warned back in the 1990s that we create new problems while trying to solve the old ones. He warned for the high degree of fragmentation. We divide the world into pieces (to understand it) and lose touch with the whole. Because of specialization we can't meet. My artistic practice revolves around this multidisciplinary encounter. From a shared interest I try to make knowledge and resources available for other perspectives. Residencies make it possible to meet people in the dynamics of their environment. This is where my artistic researches, proposals and interventions start.
Art must claim the innovative space needed to rethink our actions. The urgent issues we face require careful multidisciplinary insights. The organizational structure of our market-oriented society hinders the opportunity to meet at this level. That is why I look for alternative forms of 'organization' that can function outside this logic. This artistic practice also requires a different value system within the arts themselves.
During my master studies at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam (2009 – 2011) I discovered the philosophical work of Alain Badiou. He speaks of several temporary 'truths' and, in addition to politics, science and love, he sees art as an important 'truth procedure'. The academic idea of the autonomous artist is persistent and limited my possibilities. My artistic practice shows that special collaborations can actually lead to more 'artistic freedom'. In addition, the realization of art in dialogue with others gains direct meaning in everyday situations. Art as a 'truth procedure' therefore has an important journalistic dimension.
As an artist I build bridges between past, present and future. These are often complex relational processes that require time. This method distinguishes my work from other art practices. The independent expertise of artists is usually not part of the decision-making process concering the design of our living environment. That is why I am committed to integrating the artist's position into the social domain. By teaching on a project basis at academies I try to inspire young artists to create meaning outside the art category. During long-term projects I try to introduce local communities to the possibilities of context-dependent art for their street or neighborhood.
This website is divided into work in progress, art projects that have been realized or unfortunately never came to fruition. The fact that some proposals have not been realized does not make them less meaningful. The art that I find interesting must be able to introduce other perspectives where the old ones have lost their meaning and those are complex processes.
'Base camp Entre Nous 2014 - 2017', for example, was a social laboratory at Frederiksoord. Together with people from the KiK Foundation, the province of Drenthe, the municipality of Westerveld, the Royal Netherlands Army of Havelte and many volunteers, we investigated the possibilities of 'the participatory society'. Afterwards I published a book about this realization process.
'The Placing 2018 - 2019' at the Brugse Poort in Ghent (Belgium) was realized in collaboration with the people of de Koer. Residents let bird sounds from their homes reverberate into the street. Together they paid tribute to the multilingualism of this district and we explored inclusive alternatives for the design of a universal street.
With 'Mission Dhuicque 2020 - 2022' I am currently focusing on the repurposing of the heritage of the former Langerbrugge power station in Belgium.
With the Supergau team for contemporary art I am working in Lungau Austria on 'Conversation Pieces 2023'.
If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me.
Photo: 'View of the Langerbrugge Power Station', Belgium 2021
Collaborate? Send an email: info [at] edwinstolk.nl
 Jacques Rancière, Aesthetics and its Discontents, Cambridge 2009, p.24.