Part of the
exhibition

Freedom of Movement Municipal Art Acquisitions 2018

25 Nov 2018 until 17 Mar 2019

Mini story — 23 Nov 2018

Since the early 2000s, the internet has been Rafaël Rozendaal’s primary site of artistic production. His dozens of poetically titled websites, each individual artworks, are collectively viewed by over fifty million visitors per year. Characterized by colorful, graphic forms, they draw equally from art history and popular culture. For his installation at the Stedelijk Museum, the artist presents a selection of seven websites he has made since 2009. While Rozendaal’s websites are often displayed on video presentation technology such as monitors or projectors, his work is not video but rather spontaneously generated via algorithms. These sites constantly create new abstract formations, which produce chance juxtapositions when displayed next to each other. While the colors, scale, and experience of his works vary from browser to browser, Rozendaal is non-hierarchical about how viewers approach his art.

Rafaël Rozendaal, "somethingopen.com", 2016, website (javascript/html5), courtesy Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam.
Rafaël Rozendaal, "somethingopen.com", 2016, website (javascript/html5), courtesy Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam.
Rafaël Rozendaal, "somethingopen.com", 2016, website (javascript/html5), courtesy Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam.

Rozendaal sees no advantage to engaging with a website in a gallery over a smartphone screen, considering both to be equally authentic experiences. By providing more points of access to his art, he effectively broadens its reach, and challenges expectations of what an art audience can and should look like. Rozendaal’s interest in the internet arises in part from its relative newness as a space for creating, presenting, and distributing art. Because posting content online does not require the approval of cultural gatekeepers, the internet allows artists to more freely and immediately share experimental work. 

Rozendaal’s websites can be experienced by people anywhere in the world with an internet connection, and offer an alternative to the institutions that artists have traditionally depended upon. Public access to his work is especially important to Rozendaal. When a collector buys one of his websites, the artist stipulates that it must remain freely available online in perpetuity. 

Though he utilizes new technologies, Rozendaal considers his work in conversation with art of previous eras. He is particularly inspired by the modernist painters Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondriaan, and further aligns his work with a pictorial tradition by describing his websites in terms of painting, with the site functioning as the artwork and the browser the canvas. At the same time, Rozendaal views the internet as an artistic medium with its own unique properties, so making a case for internet art’s inclusion in the art historical canon. With their abstract, animated forms, Rozendaal’s websites are receptive to different levels of engagement, intimacy, and interactivity, and give viewers space to arrive at their own understandings of his work. 

The following websites by Rafaël Rozendaal are shown in Freedom of Movement:
aestheticecho.com, 2009, fallingfalling.com, 2011, slowempty.com, 2013, neogeocity.com, 2014, silentsilence.com, 2014, somethingopen.com, 2016, manymoment.com, 2018.

About the artist

Rafaël Rozendaal studied at the Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts. His artistic practice consists of installations, lenticulars, writing, lectures, and websites, which attract over thirty million visits per year. His work has been shown at venues including the Whitney Museum, New York; EYE Film Institute, Amsterdam; Kunsthal Rotterdam; FOAM Museum, Amsterdam; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Kunstverein Frankfurt; Seoul Art Square; the Venice Biennale, and the Valencia Biennale. He also created BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer), an open-source, do-it-yourself curatorial format for media art that has been produced at institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Venice Biennale; and the Kunsthalle Athena in Athens.