☰ Edwin Stolk
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Mission Dhuicque 2021

About my practice:

"'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."[1]

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 feel supported by my wife Hristina Tasheva who also documents these artistic journeys.

At the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (2002 – 2007) I discovered the philosophical work 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 in relation to 'reality'. It was Merleau Ponty who described the importance of a 'pre-scientific' approach. 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 are relational in the core of there existence.

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 in the way we think and act. We divide the world into pieces (to understand it) and lose touch with the whole. Because of specialization we can't meet. In my artistic practice I try to bring different forms of expertise together in multidisciplinary alliances. From a shared interest I try to make knowledge and resources available for other perspectives. Residencies offer me the possibility to meet people in the dynamics of their own environment. This is where my artistic researches, proposals and interventions start.

The urgent issues we face require 'independently' formulated multidisciplinary insights instead of quick solutions. The organizational structure of our market-oriented society hinders the possibility of meeting each other at this level. Art must claim the innovative space necessary to reconsider our actions. That is why I look for alternative forms of 'organization' that can function outside the usual logic. These artistic practices also require a different value system within the arts themselves. Procedures at funds are often not equipped to facilitate these art practices.

During my master studies at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam (2009 – 2011) I discovered the philosophical work of Alain Badiou. He speaks of a temporary 'truth' and, in addition to politics, science and love, he sees art as an important 'truth procedure'. The academic idea of the 'autonomous artist' stands in the way of developing this artistic position. My collaborative practice shows that an 'independend' form of art agency 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 also an important journalistic dimension.

Since 2007, I have focused on diverse social questions in temporary collaborations. With site-specific interventions, I build bridges between past, present and future. During these long-term artistic projects, I try to introduce local communities to the possibilities of context-dependent art. By actively involving the environment, I explore new opportunities for existing situations.

For example, I worked with former employees of dairy "De Venen" to try to provide insight into the consequences of economic scaling and the closure of their factory ('The sound of Coöp. Dairy Factory "De Venen" 2013 - 2014'), I also worked in broad collaboration on a test colony on the birthplace of the Dutch welfare state to explore the pros and cons of the participatory society ('Base camp Entre Nous 2014 - 2017'), with residents and ex-employees, I searched possibilities in Belgium for the repurposing of the decaying heritage of the Langerbrugge Power Station ('View on the Langerbrugge Power Station 2020 - 2021') and recently I spent a year working with diverse people on the theme of rural exodus in the Austrian region of Lungau ('Conversation Pieces 2022 - 2023').

At the invitation of the SETUP Foundation, I am currently participating in the innovation lab 'Wanted: Talented Municipalities' with the aim of increasing support among municipalities to work on current challenges together with creative and cultural makers. I am also a member of Network CEL - Culture, Heritage and Living environment from the Province Utrecht in order to contribute expertise and creativity to issues in the field of spatial quality.

I get great satisfaction from inspiring young artists and motivating them to create meaning in the public domain. Previously, for instance, I was a guest teacher at ArtEZ Academy for Art & Design in Zwolle and at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague.

This website gives you a good impression of my practice and 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 (yet) been realized does not make them less meaningful. The art that I find most interesting must be able to introduce other perspectives in complex environments where the old narrative has lost its meaning.

If you want to work together or have any further questions please feel free to contact me.

Kind regards,

Edwin Stolk

Photo: 'View of the Langerbrugge Power Station', Belgium 2021

Collaborate? Send an email: info [at] edwinstolk.nl

[1] Jacques Rancière, Aesthetics and its Discontents, Cambridge 2009, p.24.