Eva Olthof

archieven - publieke ruimte - publicatie - geschiedenis - DIY

Eva Olthof’s (Nijmegen, 1983) work often relies on particular historical contexts she unearths from public archives and libraries. She documents and rearranges the history of specific locations and events through fieldwork, systematic archiving and photographic documentation. In the course of this process of selection, she wilfully submits to coincidence, subjectivity and ambiguity. Once she has fully absorbed these narratives, she translates them into installations, publications and performances. Olthof lives and works in Rotterdam and graduated from the Dutch Art Institute in Arnhem. She worked as an artist in residence at Künstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin, CRAC Valparaíso, Chile and at Cemeti Art House in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. At the moment she focuses on the project Public Library Of - an art project that examines how to make the public library a (more) democratic place by collectively rethinking its current state, through means of art, history, philosophy and publishing.

Buurboek - A poster designed and distributed on invitation of PrintRoom for the project Venster Zien. Harnessing the great Dutch tradition of raamdecoratie, domestic window displays, PrintRoom created a series of riso printed posters for our neighbours to customise and publish in their windows. Buurboek is an idea that arose during the Corona lock-down and the closure of the Public Library. The poster encourages neighbors to lend to and borrow books from the personal libraries of their neigbors. June 2020
Dear Bieb - Dear Bieb is the first zine in a series addressing the question - how to make the Rotterdam Central Library a democratic place - and the start of a collaboration between Eva Olthof, PrintRoom, and library users. The zine shows a collage of images collected since she started to work on her research Public Library Of in 2017, in combination with an email to a friend about what's happening there. Sept 2019
Public Library Of - In oktober 2018 reisde Olthof door de VS, langs ruim vijftien bibliotheken. Ze sprak verschillende initiatiefnemers en kunstenaars en leerde zo veel over hoe bibliotheken curatoren hebben die artist-in-residencies organiseren, waarmee kunst een onderdeel wordt van de publieke functie. Kunst en burgerschap worden verweven in deze ‘true public spaces’ waar de kunsten en literatuur maatschappelijke functies hebben. “Toen ik dan ook terugkwam uit de VS heb ik het mezelf tot taak gesteld om een artist in residence te worden in Rotterdam.” De reis verwerkte ze in de zine Dear Bieb, vanwege de toegankelijkheid ervan: “zelf uitgegeven publicaties die worden verkocht tegen lage prijzen of geruild.” Zowel zines als een meer participatieve aanpak zijn mogelijkheden voor bibliotheken ook in Nederland. Thuis in Rotterdam gaf ze in Printroom een presentatie over haar bevindingen, ging ze in gesprek met diverse bibliotheek experts, en op zoek naar bibliothecaire mogelijkheden voor een residency. September 2019
If it were my turn to speak - Installation, video (11’16”) on monitor, steel frames, polystyrene foam, black board paint, chalk [from text exhibition booklet] For the piece If it were my turn to speak, Olthof traced the stories of three women who were born in the 1920s and 1930s: Andrée Blouin, who was born in the Central African Republic and became Chief of Protocol under Patrice Lumumba (the assassinated first democratically elected prime minister of independent Congo); Pauline Opango Lumumba from Congo, who was Lumumba’s wife at the time of his assassination; and queen Fabiola, born in Spain and queen of Belgium during the decolonization of Congo. By bringing these three women together in her work Olthof endeavours to draw a picture of the complex position of women in the anticolonial struggle. The title is a quote of Andrée Blouin Commissioned by by Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez en Wim Waelput for Show Me Your Archive and I Will Tell You Who is in Power at Kiosk, Ghent, 27.04.17 – 16.06.17 Show Me Your Archive and I Will Tell You Who is in Power combines an exhibition with a public program of lectures, panel discussions, performances and screenings to present stories and testimonies from the history of feminist struggle in Belgium and beyond.
Return to Rightful Owner - Eva Olthof’s installation Return to Rightful Owner at Van Abbemuseum Library invites visitors to consider the thin line between the private act of reading and the public space of a library. It combines ideologically loaded texts, frequently carved on monumental library facades, with the politics of forgetting, remembering and citing. The starting point of the installation and her eponymous book is the complex political history of the American Memorial Library (Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek, AGB) in Berlin. Founded in the 1950s, the library was a present from the US-American people to the citizens of West Berlin after the Berlin-Blockade. It was the first “open access public library” in Germany, where for the first time different sorts of literature were made available for the entire society. Eva Olthof links here the observations she made during a research trip in 2015 to a number of public libraries in the United States (Boston, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Detroit) with material from her book Return to Rightful Owner. Some of these libraries served as a source of inspiration for the American Memorial Library, which implemented the same ideological promises in West Berlin. In the United States these often monumental library buildings are frequently inscribed with texts on the façades referring to the creation of the American democratic state under the rule of law. [1] Blue Proposal Styrofoam / Modelling foam with inscribed text, dimensions ca 2418 x 10 x 25 cm [2] Access – Entrance Book scan in lightbox; 129 x 17 x 98 cm Downstairs [3] Free to all Digital prints of scanned and photographed archive material and text in various dimensions – photo prints in various dimensions 2016
Return to Rightful Owner, book - Eva Olthof’s book takes as it’s starting point the American Memorial Library in Berlin (Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek), which opened in 1954, and two books, which were returned after 50 years, accompanied by a handwritten personal letter. The library was a gift from the American people to the population of West Berlin after enduring the Berlin Blockade, promoting the “illimitable freedom of the human mind”, as it reads in a quote on the library’s wall from US President Thomas Jefferson. The book brings together the charged political history of this library, and the recent events connected to the revelations of NSA files by Edward Snowden. Onomatopee 116 Photography: Eva Olthof Text: Eva Olthof, Doreen Mende, Eben Moglen Design: Stefano Faoro Advice: Steven ten Thije Printer: Lecturis, Eindhoven Published: April 2015 This project originated during a four months work period at Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin December 2013 - March 2014 Generously supported by: Mondriaan Fund Stiching Niemeijer Fonds Stichting Bekker-la Bastide-Fonds Stichting Harten Fonds
Archiveresonance.net - On March 3, 2009, the Historical Archive of the City of Cologne collapsed. The archival material was completely buried in an enormous pit underneath rubble and concrete debris. Two people lost their lives, many people had to leave their homes. Archiveresonance.net aims to give an insight into residents’ memories and thoughts and to set in motion a parallel ‘restoring process’. This growing archive comprises of different perspectives collected since September 2013. It contains contributions from both long-time and new residents; from frequent users to people that did not know about its existence before 3.3.2009; from individuals who donated family archives and from people who were in the building that particular day.
El Deformes - El Deformes is a newspaper that researches the building process of the National Congress building at the end of the 1980s in Valparaíso, Chile. This significant project was initiated by US-backed dictator Augusto Pinochet during the last years of his regime - which moved the Congress from the capital Santiago to the harbour city Valparaíso. The building, however, was only taken into use after the fall of Pinochet by the new democratically elected government in March 1990. The format of the newspaper was chosen to 'open up' the medium and because it's cheap to produce and easy to disperse. The printed press was, and still is, very biased in the Chilean context - were there is a lack of independent journalism and journalists are structurally under paid. We tried to open up the medium by looking into the archive of El Mecurio (a pro-Pinochet) newspaper at Biblioteca Severin. In El Deformes we reprinted the clips from 1988-90 related to the building of the National Congress to show the way the process was reported upon. We juxtaposed these clips with five pages of opinions by Valparaíso citizens. We collected these by doing surveys at the weekly market right next to the Congress building - asking the passer-byes their opinions about the current condition of the printed media; the history of the location; and on a contemporary controversy construction project in Valparaíso: Mall Barón. This with the aim to gather opinions of the general public which were and perhaps still are obscured. Aside to that we interviewed the shop owner Mario Llancaqueo Vera, of Librería Crisis (bookshop Crisis) - exactly opposite to the Congress building - who deliberately chose that location to open his bookstore. The newspaper was disseminated for free at several occasions: at demonstrations, at the market & at bookshop Crisis. Amount of copies printed: 2000. Printed at El Mercurio presses. Spring 2013. El Deformes came about during a residency and in collaboration with CRAC Valparaíso, Chile.