Part of the
exhibition

Freedom of Movement Municipal Art Acquisitions 2018

25 Nov 2018 until 17 Mar 2019

Mini story — 23 Nov 2018

Remco Torenbosch investigates the socio-economic and political forces that have a direct influence on our daily lives. He focuses on a wide range of themes, including the complex dynamics of the global political economy and the relationship between labor and property. For his site-specific audio installation Institute, the artist relocates the sounds produced in the Stedelijk Museum’s inaccessible administrative, operational, and storage spaces, and plays them through speakers in the exhibition’s gallery setting. While recognizing the museum’s need for secure, private areas, Torenbosch points out that who has access to these spaces is a matter that often remains unexamined.

By drawing attention to the intricate management systems that support works of art, Torenbosch highlights their material status as objects that require administration, conservation, transport, and safeguarding. This work is aligned with a tradition of institutional critique, which gained prominence in the late 1960s as artists began to directly respond to the architectures of power that underpin the institutional presentation and acquisition of art. Torenbosch analyzes the structural relationships that comprise an institution, and how they are connected to complex networks of control and capital. By exposing the concealed parts of the museum through sound, he offers a new way of looking at the museum as a social space and questions the meaning of its role as a public institution.

Remco Torenbosch, "Institute", 2018, audio installation, courtesy the artist and Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam.
Remco Torenbosch, "Institute", 2018, audio installation, courtesy the artist and Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam.

The audio features wordless, ambient sounds that are not always clearly identifiable. Through this, Torenbosch seeks to raise awareness about how powerful institutions often purposely obscure information for financial or political gain. Within the gallery, the multimodal audio installation moves the point of observation from the art object to the wider institutional activity that surrounds it. By transmitting everyday sounds from restricted areas of the museum into public galleries, Torenbosch reconfigures notions of access, and by extension, to the idea that an institution confers legitimacy. Further, by creating an experience guided by sound he breaks with a Western tradition that privileges vision as the dominant sense.

Remco Torenbosch, "Institute", 2018, audio installation, courtesy the artist and Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam.
Remco Torenbosch, "Institute", 2018, audio installation, courtesy the artist and Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam.
Remco Torenbosch, "Institute", 2018, audio installation, courtesy the artist and Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam.
Remco Torenbosch, "Institute", 2018, audio installation, courtesy the artist and Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam.

While his work enlists audio surveillance techniques, Torenbosch points out that the use of such practices to ensure public safety can often result in the breaching of individual rights and freedoms. By reframing the museum’s background noise as material of cultural value that also reflects issues of social and political concern, he insists that art objects are inextricably connected to the operations and economies of labor that surround them.

About the artist

Remco Torenbosch (1982, Netherlands) studied at the Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam and the Universität der Künste in Berlin. He is currently a resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. His work has been exhibited at institutions including Kunsthalle Wien; De Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Kunsthaus Zürich; Centre d'art contemporain, Parc Saint Léger; GAMeC, Bergamo; and Temporary Gallery, Cologne. In 2013 he was shortlisted for the Prix de Rome.