Skip to main content

w serves imperialism - group exhibition

Project Spaces W139

Warmoesstraat 139
1012 JB Amsterdam
+31 (0)20 6229434

Open Mon - Sun / 12-18 hrs

Exhibition 16 Dec — 21 Jan

Opening 15 Dec, 20 hrs


Featured artists:
André Avelãs, James Beckett, Cornelius Cardew, Nicolas Collins, DNK-Ensemble, Experimental Jetset, Natalia Domínguez Rangel, Gijs Gieskes, Bas van Koolwijk, Joseph Kudirka, Brian McKenna, Jonathan Mikkelsen, Koen Nutters, Mike Ottink, Tristan Perich, Gert-Jan Prins, Paulo Raposo, Jasna Veličković, ::vtol:: 

w serves imperialism focuses on audio-visual works and time-based media where each work will occur on a timeline, a physical album that alters with each listening due to context in sequence. This experiment is a curatorial gesture toward creating a democratic space for a new reception – hoping to break with norms to result in a heightened focus and absorption of content and presented in optimal circumstances. The exhibition format is inspired by The Museum of One Painting in Russia, which since 1983 shows only one work at a time. To be able to experience an art piece to the fullest, one needs both time and concentration.

The title of the exhibition is a reduction of “Stockhausen Serves Imperialism” written by the composer Cornelius Cardew. After a period of fierce experimentalism in the heart of the upper-echelons of European modern music in the 1950's and 60's, Cardew realized that he wanted to take the freedoms he found in the inner workings of his music and apply them to precarious social situations, to engage in the plight of real people. Denouncing his earlier work as bourgeois, under the influence of Maoist / Marxist doctrine he created a situation which left no space for anything but workers songs. Ironically, the political undertones of his earlier works are, in fact, the strongest examples of a utopian and emancipatory reasoning.

Cardew's work is woven throughout the fabric of the exhibition, appearing in performance, print, sound, score and text. His spirit inevitably challenges the status quo, clarifying an inherent political property of all art. It is in this sense, that this show pursues the inner-workings of a piece of art as very political indeed, even if the thematic content of the piece is not so by nature.

The current state of media consumption renders us subjects of a sinister attention economy, making multitasking and superficial scrolling norms. This is the state in which we often move through exhibitions as well, supposedly browsing art with a mere 9 seconds dedicated per artwork. With w serves imperialism , we seek an antithesis, a conceptual approach of curating conscious and qualitative art experiences that provides the time and space to engage in-depth. A screen creates a sound. A score creates the potential for action - simplicity… space.

Within this logic resides a refusal to create hierarchy or a master-narrative through which to read and experience. Instead each piece carries the same value and importance as the whole. An individual work can be seen as premonitory, existing inside a larger structure, which maintains relationships to its makers, composers, performers and the audience.

Being consistent with the before mentioned premises, the opening night will comprise of a “opening specific” work that is designed to endure such an unfavourable context. It will only be presented on that evening. The sequence of the remaining works will start the next day.

There are a series of events, which are related to the content of the show, such as performances of Cardew’s pieces and Pianola concerts of “ impossible music”.


Other events

Galleries The Merchant House

Fri / 12-19.30 hrs + by appointment 

Date 24 Nov - 26 Jan

Opening Friday 24 Nov
17 - 21 hrs

Elsa Tomkowiak and Mary Sue at Work

Project Spaces PS

Sat / 13-17 hrs
+ by appointment

Date 10 Dec - 20 Jan

Opening Sunday 10 Dec
16 - 18 hrs

Museums/Institutes De Appel

For opening hours, see website 

Date 27 Jan - 1 Apr

Galleries Van Zijll Langhout / Contemporary Art

Wed - Sat / 10-17 hrs
+ by appointment

Date 24 Nov - 27 Jan

Opening Friday 24 Nov
17 - 21 hrs

Rumiko Hagiwara, Drawing of Ambiguity, 2017, 40 x 30 cm, pencil on paper