Don Quijote
28 April – 6 August 2006
Curators: Nicolaus Schafhausen and Sophie von Olfers
Witte de With opened its first season under the direction of Nicolaus Schafhausen with two exhibitions: the first solo exhibition in the Netherlands of Mathias Poledna and the thematic group exhibition Don Quijote. Featuring twenty-two international artists, the exhibition presented artworks across a range of media, all of which put idealism and irrationality to the test.

Four hundred years after it was written, Miguel de Cervantes’ masterpiece Don Quijote de la Mancha continues to exert a strong influence on our imagination, whether we have read the book or not. Its wandering ‘knight’ and his faithful servant Sancho Panza are ingrained in our collective cultural memory, and their idealistic quest has been used as a metaphor for many journeys since, both physical and imaginary.
Just like the story that inspired it, this exhibition contains a vast array of intense human relationships, passionate anecdotes, personal struggles, tragicomic failures, and devastating self-destruction. The exhibition takes a renewed look at Cervantes’ tale, retelling it in a contemporary voice. The figure of Don Quijote reminds us that idealism will eventually be grounded by practicality, and that the realisation of insane visions will always be restricted by the pragmatic world in which we live.

Don Quijote presented works ranging from surreal musical performances to humble wooden sculptures, from contemporary figurative painting to the mapping of vanished routes through Rotterdam, from mini manufactured bio-systems to life-size puppets. Michael Beutler constructed a topography in the gallery space that acts as a stage set for the exhibition, emphasising its theatricality and bringing together the many works in a weird and wonderful landscape.

A prelude to future group shows, Don Quijote refers on a deeper level to Witte de With’s current phase of self-assessment and the re-examination of the institution’s role. For, if we see Don Quijote’s idealistic battles as an analogy for the struggles faced by contemporary art institutions, we may spot a new set of windmills on today’s cultural horizon.
Michael Beutler, Johanna Billing, Manon de Boer, Gerard Byrne, Ryan Gander, Tue Greenfort, William Hunt, Sven Johne, Jesper Just, Annette Kelm, David Lieske, Damian Moppett, Chris Moukarbel, Ivan Navarro, Christopher Orr, Pablo Pijnappel, Mark Raidpere, Hannah Rickards, Markus Schinwald, Anj Smith, Kostis Velonis and Richard T. Walker.
Home l Team l Contact l Links l Colophon l Deutsch
Isa Genzken l Nicolaus Schafhausen l Commissioners l Partner l History l Press
Exhibitions - KölnShow2 l Don Quijote l Stage of Life - Rhetorics of Emotion l Populism
Adorno l Nation l non-places l New Heimat
Conferences/Symposia - Day after day after day l Under Construction
The periphery complex
Other Projects - Models for Tomorrow l Lufthansa Aviation Center l Opera Antigona