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Charity exhibition

Presentation at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy


The 2012-2013 edition of the Art in Context program was concerned with the topic of charity. Research on the topic started off with Oscar Wilde’s text from 1891 The Soul of Man under Socialism in which he claims that ‘the proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible’ and that ‘charity degrades, demoralizes and creates a multitude of sins’. This critical view on charity was challenged during group discussions and contrasted against participants’ views on the topic — their individual understanding of charity gradually became the main source of further research and works produced in class.

In order to further widen the topic, guest lecturers were invited during the first semester to offer their views. Jean-Jacques Suurmond, a Protestant pastor, theologian and columnist for daily newspaper Trouw, gave a lecture on the Christian view on charity and it’s historical background. His lecture produced a lively and open discussion among the participants that would mark the texts and works that were produced. This discussion also led Jean-Jacques Suurmond to dedicate his next column to the topic — ‘Caritas doet ons perspectief veranderen’ (‘Caritas changes our perspective’), published in Trouw on 20 November 2012.

In December 2012, art historian and curator Alena Alexandrova was invited to give a lecture on charity from a philosophical perspective. As a preparation for the lecture, Alexandrova asked participants to read extracts from Jacques Derrida’s Given Time, chapter 4: ‘Counterfeit Money: Gift and Countergift, Excuse and Forgiveness’. The text was discussed and connected to the first attempts of participants to conceive of visual pieces concerning the topic.

At Amnesty International Office     Charity presentation

1 — Participants at the Amnesty International Amsterdam office
2 — Presentation at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy; work by Rick van de Dood

Charity Event Poster     Amnesty Amsterdam Office

3 — Charity event poster by Ohri Ogi
4 — Amnesty International Amsterdam office

This edition of Art in Context was concluded with a charity event, an exhibition and a first publication to accompany these: Charity.