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Hans van Houwelingen: Undone

Mihnea Mircan [editor-in-chief], Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei [managing editor]


Hans van Houwelingen: Undone

Mihnea Mircan [editor-in-chief], Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei [managing editor]


Art / Philosophy / Theory



Graphic designer


Number of pages


Book size

20,5 x 12



English| Dutch

Release date: November 2011

This publication has been made possible, in part, by the financial support of Stroom Den Haag, Extra City, Fonds BKVB and Stichting Stokroos.


For more information:

In 2004, the book STIFF. Hans van Houwelingen vs. Public Art was published by Artimo. This Autumn Jap Sam Books will publish the new book UNDONE. Hans van Houwelingen, and we have decided together with the artist to distribute the remaining copies of STIFF. You can order a copy of this book for € 25,- directly at our publishing house. 

The publication UNDONE presents three recent proposals by artist Hans van Houwelingen and, through their mediation, one of the most remarkable discourses on public art in the Netherlands.

'What's Done… Can Be Undone' is the proposed exchange of place between the statues of Johan Rudolph Thorbecke and Baruch Spinoza, sitting in Amsterdam and The Hague, respectively. Correcting the historical inaccuracy in their placement could trigger a crucial reevaluation of the politician's and the philosopher's legacies, in relation to today's political and moral unrest. 'Sluipweg' relocates over 300 disinterred tombstones as a footpath circling the ramparts of Fort Vijfhuizen, a defense construction rendered obsolete, the very moment it was completed, by advancements in military technology. The work collapses two forms of death and two ways in which death absents the categories we employ to make sense of it. Van Houwelingen's 'National Monument to the Guest-Workers' proposes that the 'Bijenkorf Construction', Naum Gabo's sculpture in central Rotterdam, is officially attributed to the descendants of guest-workers, bound to carry out the restoration of the neglected, latent monument, but also to channel its politically agnostic metaphors into a collective statement, uttered at what might be the threshold to a post-multicultural era.

Each of the three projects is discussed by three authors. The imaginative or political traction of the proposals is investigated in relation to rapidly shifting notions of citizenship, views and uses of commemoration. The reader functions perhaps as an editorial scale model of the ampler engagement that Hans van Houwelingen's propositions require of us.

With contributions by

With contributions by Hans van Houwelingen, Mihnea Mircan (curator and artistic director of Extra City-Kunsthal Antwerpen), Arno van Roosmalen (director Stroom Den Haag), John Heymans (philosopher, faculty member and lecturer in Theory at ArtEZ Fine Arts Master Degree Programme), Jonas Staal (artist), Mark Jarzombek (Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture and the Associate Dean of MIT's School of Architecture and Planning), David Riff (art critic and writer), Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield (reader in Theory and Philosophy of Art, University of Reading), Gerald Raunig (philosopher, art theoretician), Marina Vishmidt (writer), Julia Bryan-Wilson (associate professor of art history at UC Berkeley), Brian Dillon (UK editor of Cabinet magazine and tutor in Critical Writing at the Royal College of Art), and Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei (writer).