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"The World is Fine, We Ourselves Unfortunately Somewhat Less: Ritsaert ten Cate"
2004-11-26 until 2005-02-16
De Appel
Amsterdam, , NL

Before starting to make art in the early 90s, Ritsaert ten Cate (born 1938) worked for more than thirty years in the theatre world. He was the man behind the legendary Mickery, a production centre for experimental theatre and an important venue for performance art in the 70s. At a later stage he became director of DasArts, Amsterdam’s inter-disciplinary workshop for theatre, dance and mime. He made numerous performances for which he also designed the decors and wrote scripts. De Appel has invited Ten Cate to put together an exhibition based on the idea of ‘the artist as curator’.

With works by: Tiong Ang/Roy Villevoye, Erzebet Baerveldt, Francis Bacon, Jan Banning, Johannes Bosboom, Joost van den Broek, Ritsaert ten Cate, Merlijn Doomernik, Marlene Dumas, Albert Eckhout, Ger van Elk, Lucio Fontana, Dominique Ghesquière, Gilbert & George, Ivan Grubanov, Keith Haring, Shin Junsik, Edward Kienholz, Jannis Kounellis, Axel & Helena van der Kraan, Germaine Kruip, Judith Leyster, Sharon Lockhart, Richard Long, Robert Longo, Piero Marsili, Pieter Laurens Mol, Holger Nickisch, Nic Nicosia, Mike Kelley/Tony Oursler, Mimo Paladino, Sigmar Polke, Robert Polidori, Quirine Racké & Helena Muskens, Markus Raetz, Thomas Schütte, Paul Thek, Narcisse Tordoir, Petran Vermeulen, Janneke Viegers, Andy Warhol, Antoon van Welie, Lie van der Werff, Ben Willikens, Yang Zhen Zhong.

The exhibition takes its title from Leo Vroman - ‘De wereld deugt, wijzelf helaas wat minder’ (The world is fine, we ourselves unfortunately somewhat less) - and consists of collage-like sculptures and installations full of references to politics, history and existential issues regarding the good and evil in man. Enlarged newspaper photographs wind like a snake through the exhibition rooms. Walls are covered from top to bottom with art works selected by Ten Cate, many of them from his own collection, together with newspaper cuttings, so that topicality merges with (art) history. Without exception, the artists he presents are placed in the perspective of the world of which they are, or were, a part. In the hands of the artist, harsh reality acquires a special light.

Ten Cate assembles existing objects into a contagious theatrical universe: a doll decked out with pearl necklaces, wig, camouflage suit and boa next to an inflatable version of Edvard Munch’s scream, miniature military toys and an almost two metre tall cast concrete representation of Keith Haring. He rearranges decors and props, he directs and stages until a coherent image is created.

In ‘De wereld deugt, wijzelf helaas wat minder’, Ten Cate offers a critical view of social relationships in a playful and surprising way. As though trying to keep pace with this crazy world, he makes images and installations pass by at a breakneck speed, as stories or presentations dealing with how people see, focus and experience. Based on the memorable exhibition ‘The Family of Man’ from 1955, which was assembled around universal themes like love, children and death, Ten Cate presents a different view of the world than that of the makers of the exhibition at the time of postwar reconstruction. As a counterpart to misery and injustice, the show of Ten Cate also offers images of hope, happiness and love, thereby suggesting that life can be celebrated as long as one continues to believe in it and participates in it passionately.

Ritsaert ten Cate (Almelo, 1938) lives and works in Amsterdam. In August 2000 he left to spend a year working at PS1 in New York. From 2002 until 2003 he studied at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Selected exhibitions: 2004 TRACER TENT/Witte de With, Rotterdam; Lustwarande 04 – Disorientation by Beauty, Tilburg; Crash Course. Ritsaert ten Cate, Museum De Beyerd, Breda (solo); PAX, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Berlin (solo); Channel Zero, Netherlands Media Art Institute, Amsterdam; Ritsaert ten Cate:A sunset kind of thing, Galerie Reuten, Amsterdam (solo) 2003 Cargo, Almere 2002 Waarschijnlijk, Stadsgalerij Heerlen; Waalkens Galerie, Finsterwolde (solo) 2001 Ritsaert ten Cate, Honestly stolen from the experience of a lifetime, Galerie Reuten, Amsterdam; PS1/MoMA, New York, Clocktower 1998 Stedelijk Bureau Amsterdam. Ritsaert ten Cate received the Sandberg Award in 1996.

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