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Z-Files # 5: Erik van Lieshout

Z-Files: 03 / 10 / 2014
Location: Zuidplein, Rotterdam

De Z-Files, Art and the City of Friday night 3 October (from 17.00 hours) revolves around the work of artist Erik van Lieshout, and his relationship with Rotterdam South. On Zuidplein 88, the now famous film will be Commission shown that Van Lieshout commissioned by Sculpture International Rotterdam. This film will after the Z-Files from 4 to 12 October will be shown at this location. Daily from 15: 00 to 17: 00 hour.

This edition of the Z-Files is being organized in collaboration with Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, the new publication on this evening Rotterdam South – Home van Van Lieshout. It will also be the now famous movieCommission shown - made by Van Lieshout for Sculpture International Rotterdam.

The film Commission
In 2010, Van Lieshout stayed for three months at the invitation of SIR in his 'store' in the Zuidplein shopping center in Rotterdam South. He spoke with visitors there, lived with the people from Zuidplein and filmed the shopping center. The result is the film Commission (2011). Van Lieshout wanted to make a film in which his biographical story as an internationally operating artist - who lived in Rotterdam South for many years and still has his studio there - mixes with the life and architecture of Zuidplein. At the start of 2011 the film could be seen as a sneak preview in the London Hayward Gallery, where it was very well received. The film then had its world premiere (February 2011) in Theater Zuidplein in Rotterdam. In the meantime, the work has been traveling from place to place for four years and it has been purchased by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and the Bouwfonds Art Collection.

The publication Rotterdam South — Home
Erik van Lieshout's new publication too Rotterdam South — Home is about Rotterdam South. The publication starts with a bicycle tour organized by Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, in collaboration with ArchiGuides Rotterdam. Van Lieshout was asked to select special locations throughout the city for this bicycle tour that are relevant or meaningful for the creation of his work. With this frame of mind in mind, the publication opens with a map of the city, with certain places referring to shooting locations of one or more films by the artist. Each essay in the publication is inspired by one of Van Lieshout's films in order to give a perspective on the city as well as on the role of the artist in society.

In her essay about Commission Professor Erika Balsom investigates the use of video as a medium for depicting social reality and as a specific working style of the artist. In her text Chronicle of a summer on Zuidplein, Balsom elaborates on Van Lieshout's apparently amateurish style of working and filming, a style that emphasizes intimacy and breaks the distance to the characters presented.
Rotterdam South — Home is the fifth publication in a series - which has been published by Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art since 2007 - that focuses on Rotterdam; each book presents the vision of an artist who works primarily with photography and video and who has a strong connection with the city. This loosely coherent series of artist's books constantly portrays the very different urban main characters.

Erik van Lieshout
Erik van Lieshout (1968) is known for his controversial video installations and drawings that go beyond the boundaries of vulgarity and the most uncensored reality of society. He is particularly interested in the Netherlands and in particular in Rotterdam. Van Lieshout's work, populist but in essence very critical, is able to give the viewer an uneasy feeling with a joke; through this we finally realize the gravity of the subject under discussion, and more importantly, we gain insight into the logic and thinking of the mentality being portrayed. Van Lieshout also highlights this peculiar perspective in his publication. The book does not stick to the standard format of the artists' catalog and can itself be seen as a work of art.


Z-Files, Art and the City is a series of programs from Sculpture International Rotterdam and BKOR (both part of the Rotterdam Center for Visual Arts) that deal with art, public space and the city through lectures, workshops and excursions. The aim of the program is to bring attention to the special collection of artworks in the public space of Rotterdam and to investigate current developments with regard to art and the city.

TENT is the platform for contemporary art in the context of Rotterdam with exhibitions, new productions, educational projects, performances and events with makers from the city and beyond.
To website TENT

Sculpture International Rotterdam manages Rotterdam's international sculpture collection, brings it to the attention and develops a metropolitan international art policy.
To the SIR website

Forest polder fox, Florentijn Hofman, Schiedamseweg, 2020. Photo: Otto Snoek

BKOR manages and renews the extensive city collection in collaboration with Rotterdam residents, companies and institutions. BKOR advises the municipality, citizens and artists on the realization, placement, relocation and remediation of public works of art.
To the BKOR website

Art Office mediates, informs and supports visual artists from Rotterdam with regard to their professional practice. For artists, institutions and individuals.
To the Art Office website