[artinfo] Museum of Arte Útil at Van Abbemuseum

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Tue Nov 26 22:10:15 CET 2013

Museum of Arte Útil
7 December 2013-30 March 2014

Opening: Saturday 7 December, 2:30-7pm

Van Abbemuseum
Bilderdijklaan 10
The Netherlands

T +31 (0) 40 238 1000
<mailto:info at vanabbemuseum.nl>info at vanabbemuseum.nl


On 7 December the old building of the Van 
Abbemuseum will reopen as the Museum of Arte 
Útil, a place where art's use value and social 
function will be put to the test. The Museum of 
Arte Útil is initiated by Tania Bruguera and 
developed with the Van Abbemuseum and 
constructLab. It is the latest phase of a project 
Bruguera began ten years ago and that included an 
academy in Havana; the Arte Útil lab at Queens 
Museum; and residencies at Immigrant Movement 
International, New York.

Arte Útil roughly translates into English as 
'useful art' but it goes further suggesting art 
as a tool or device. The Museum of Arte Útil will 
present an archive of case studies spanning 
nearly two centuries. These case studies imagine, 
create and implement beneficial outcomes by 
producing tactics that change how we act in 
society. They are evidence of a broader change 
taking place today. Whether through 
self-organised groups, individual initiatives or 
the rise of user generated content people are 
developing new methods and social formations to 
deal with issues that were once the domain of the 
state. The Museum of Arte Útil will show how 
these initiatives are not isolated incidents, bur 
part of a global movement shaping our 
contemporary world.

From a museum to a Social Power Plant 
How can we 'use' the museum? How can it become a 
civic institution for production and output? 
Through this project, the ambition is to 
transform the museum into a Social Power Plant, 
where spectators become users and collective, 
transformative energy can be generated for use in 
the world outside. The case studies provide the 
fuel for the Social Power Plant, the 
presentations are a toolkit for users to 
re-purpose tactics and methodologies to their own 

The central scenographic device is a large wooden 
circle that cuts through all the walls of the 
museum breaking through the white cube structure 
of the building and generating a dynamic 
circulation system. The visitor encounters spaces 
according to seven strategies that best describe 
Arte Útil: 'Use it Yourself,' 'Institutional 
Re-purpose,' 'A-Legal,' 'Space Hijack,' 'Open 
Access,' 'Legislative Change,' and 'Reforming 
Capital.' Each room features live projects 
alongside documentation of case studies 
internationally. A number of artists will work in 
the museum and the city over a sustained period 
of time, whilst many of the live projects relate 
directly to Eindhoven, through partnerships with 
local organisations. A full list of the artists 
and organisations involved in the Museum of Arte 
Útil is available on the 
Abbemuseum website.

Debate and contribute to Arte Útil
Arte Útil projects and case studies are 
constantly being created and therefore the 
'Association of Arte Útil' will be open online 
where new examples can be submitted. In the 
museum, a programme of public discussions, 
workshops and presentations will tackle some of 
the central questions and problems raised by the 
term. Taking place in 'The Room of Controversies' 
they will include four main sessions: 'Arte Útil, 
Gentrification and Misuse,' 'Arte Útil, Activism 
and Sincerity,' 'Arte Útil, Social Design and 
Instrumentalisation,' 'Arte Útil, 2.0 Culture and 
Disobedience.' The central gallery, the 'Archive 
room,' will be an interactive core where users 
gain insights into different tactics happening 
throughout the world and where case studies can 
be suggested, assessed against the criteria, 
printed and added to the archive. For full 
details of the online archive and public 
programme, please visit the Museum of Arte Útil 

A Lexicon for Usership
A lexicon of terms has been written by theorist 
Stephen Wright for the Museum of Arte Útil and 
will serve as a textual tool kit for users. The 
lexicon includes terms that Wright feels should 
be 'retired' alongside what he refers to as 
'emergent concepts' and 'modes of usership.' 
Stephen Wright is a writer and professor at the 
European School of Visual Arts.

Free entry
Museum of Arte Útil users will not be charged a 
fee to enter the museum. They will be asked for a 
donation reflecting their appreciation of the new 
institution. Users must also be prepared to 
commit both time and energy.

Museum of Arte Útil team
Nick Aikens, Tania Bruguera, constructLab (with 
Alex Roemer, Bureau d'Études, Collective Works 
and others), Annette Eliëns, Charles Esche, Annie 
Fletcher, Gemma Medina Estupinan and Alessandra 

Museum of Arte Útil is supported by the Mondriaan 
Fund and was initiated through the experimental 
programme Using Art.

Museum of Arte Útil is Van Abbemuseum's first 
exhibition within the programme The Uses of Art - 
The Legacy of 1848 and 1989 by L'Internationale 
confederation and as such supported with the 
Culture Programme of the European Union.

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