Title From
Location Rotterdam
Publisher Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art
Periodicity Biannual
ISSN 1234-4567
URL From Witte de With
Published Since 1999-2001
Indexed Holdings 1999-2001


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Periodical's Overview

“The Western artistic tradition is still immersed in the ideology of modernism, but it is beginning to situate itself clearly beyond the confines of the Fine Arts. One of the most fruitful terrains that art has constructed is the linkage of practices, techniques, and instruments that no other human endeavor is able to connect. From physical experience to its intellectual effects, art at the end of our century is torn between its capacity to change the world and its function as a product within a closed system of institutional consumption. From translates and explores the methods of activating meaning which accompany the experiences of cultural perceptions and interpretation. Art “does things” to people; it has effects which accumulate over time. Art forms part of the knowledge necessary for the development of the human community, and yet it also provides pleasure. Whether it is conceived as a universal language or is subject to local norms of interpretation, art must appear on public terrain, in the world of common and sharable experience.

From #1 refuses the conventional idea that contemporary art is an elitist activity. Art is made for the public, but its impact on the public cannot be quantified through the immediacy of ticket sales to a given exhibition. The fruit of a layering process, art acts as a brake on the constant acceleration that the world undergoes every day. It gains meaning over time and through contrasts with occurrences of many different natures. Reducing the velocity of events does not mean immobilizing them, but offering greater possibilities for perception and evaluation.”[1]

Selected Subject Headings

  • Aesthetics, Modern - 20th century
  • Art, Modern - 20th century - Netherlands
  • Art criticism
  • Art exhibition audiences
  • Artists' pages
  • Artists’ writings
  • Attention
  • Culture - social aspects
  • Gardens in art - exhibitions
  • Haiti - history
  • Iguanas
  • Landscape changes - United States
  • MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts
  • Modernism (literature)
  • Perception
  • Psychiatry - Soviet Union
  • Social structure
  • Spain - colonies - history
  • Trompe l’oeil
  • Witte de With, Rotterdam - history


Discursive processes need time distance from their objects of study. In our ever-accelerated moment and its surplus of immaterial intelligence in search of space and objects of study, the field of art history is reducing the traditional time distances from which to embark historicizing particular periods. In short, the 1990s are coming, which is odd, as the 2000s have already started to historicize themselves.[2]

We write this in 2011.

How could the 2000s rush to historicize themselves before processing the 1990s? We have the intuition that it has to do with the managerial turn that began taking place during the last decade of the 20th century. And the global network explosion, of course.

A short lived institutional periodical, From could help us understand this non-innocent jump-cut, and the conditions that landed us in our current times, in which “artistic directors” or curators--the managerial turn--claim a role that was previously assigned to artists; a struggle for attention, a struggle for space and resources. The “death of the author,” and “institutional critique” had prepared the ground for an unintended paradigmatic shift, the exhibition as collage, or, managers as authors; in this case, very much alive.

But how does one evaluate a manager? And once tested, how long can our attention be sustained by their reports? And most importantly, do the materials used in the collage matter anymore, or is all about ephemeral circulation, fleetingly moving on to the next report, leaving behind only images and ever increasing paper traces? As if the form was the content.

Although situated at a millennial intersection, From’s spirit was shaped by the 1990s; we state that this periodical could help our understanding of that decade because it is a document of a moment in which artists and curators were working in conjunction, aware of the different roles both occupied, and their varied structural conditionings; they worked sometimes seamlessly, sometimes fraughtly, as such is life; but these new kind of curators were also learning a lot, as artists have existed since times immemorial--say, even as shamans--and these curators were trying to figure out what their role could be in a saturated cultural landscape that allowed their emergence as mediators; the respect that From’s editor and instigator, Balearic curator Bartomeu Marí, had for works of art or objects of knowledge as unique thought-igniters is something to take into account if we are to understand what has been lost in this managerial shift.

Lavishly designed and produced by Rotterdam’s Witte de With, and as a distinct differentiating statement from Chris Dercon’s Witte de Witt Cahiers[3], From will help non-rushing art historians to round up their perceptions about how the “contemporary” was shaped during the 1990s, how there was a space allowed for artists to think with curators, and how curators could be generous enough as to provide and share a space for reflection and others’ form and thought experiments; a space that, even if existing, is currently becoming rare to encounter.

Curating, from Latin, means to take care of, to procure. From provided care and respect for art and artists, and its reward is its relevance. To travel with artists, rather than trying to travel alone to desert landscapes. We like these, but we are already there.

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[1] Bartomeu Marí. “Foreword: where does From come from?,” From (Rotterdam), no. 1 (September 1999): 5.

[2] An example of this fast historicization would be The Manifesta decade: debates on contemporary art exhibitions and biennials in post-wall Europe. Edited by Barbara Vanderlinden, and Elena Filipovic. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005. Worldcat’s record of this publication includes the following summary, from which the word artists is amiss: “Reflections from curators, historians, philosophers, anthropologists, architects, and writers on the cultural and political conditions of European exhibition practice since the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

[3] The indexed contents of the Witte de With Cahier can also be found in ccindex's database.