What is embedded to you?
Stick to your artistic task?
let loose, be there?

Clear Task

Robert Capa. That sounds nearly synonymous with "embedded". The artist attached to the army, in order to report from an inside perspective to a wider public about the situations which the soldiers are facing. The artist staying an artist. A clear task. Shooting pictures, not becoming a soldier.

Among Capa’s most iconic images: The Falling Soldier (taken in 1936 in the Spanish Civil War), and the storming of the American troops of Omaha Beach during D Day (June 6, 1944).

In fact, “Robert Capa” was an invented persona, constructed by the Hungarian photographer Endre Friedmann and his partner, Gerda Taro. Taro died in the Spanish civil war. Capa died in 1954 in Vietnam, after stepping on a land mine.

Being Incidental

The Artist Placement Group was a pioneer agency intended to embed artists in private companies and public sector organisations. APG was founded in England in 1966 by, amongst others, artists Barbara Steveni, John Latham, and Barry Flanagan.

The placement of artists in organisations led to intriguing hosting experiments, thanks to the ambiguity of their ideal: 'The Incidental Person'. APG negotiated with organisations ranging from psychiatric hospitals to broadcasting companies. They asked the organisations to pay the embedded artist the usual salary, as if he or she were a normal employee, but still respect the artist's freedom.

The artist allowed to be an incidental person in an organisation: this ambiguity still inspires artists, see for instance 'Working at Deloitte for a Month' (2008) by Pilvi Takala.

APG worked till the end of the 1970s and was restructured in 1989 into O+I (Organisation and Invidiual), which was dissolved in 2008. The archive of the Artist Placement Group is hosted by Tate Modern.

Being There
Some want to go as far as to merge with the environment in which they embed themselves, such as The Beach, an initiative in a neighbourhood in the Amsterdam Nieuw West district.

Initiator Diana Krabbendam: "As designers we wanted to find out what kind of neighbourhood it is by becoming part of it rather than looking at it from the outside. Sooner or later, you become fully embedded. And then you can’t use that word anymore. Then you are ‘there’, and you have a new situation, which calls for different ways of working. I find that exciting.”







Antenna #2 - Embedded


Antenna #2 - Embedded

Why do artists and others want to embed themselves in environments which are other to them?
How does it work?
What do they aim for?
Where does the process of embedding ends?
Does it ever (need to) end?

This Antenna brings to you inside stories of artists, curators, designers, authors, urban planners, artist-in-residence programmes, bienials, and even whole city areas about their way of becoming or being embedded.

  • Jan Willem Petersen went on his own "specialist operation" through the Uruzgan region in Afghanistan.
  • Bradley MacCallum was embedded for a year of research with the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
  • Danielle van Zuijlen plunges into the intricate workings of real estate and politics of a Ghent neighbourhood where she lives herself.
  • The Deltaworkers residency deeply embeds itself in reality ánd mythology of New Orleans.

And we offer you a variety of voices on embedding, from Manifesta biennial director Hedwig Fijen, "The Beach" initiator Diana Krabbendam, cultural program director Liesbeth Jansen, artist Jantine Wijnja, curator Sjoerd ter Borg, and author Daan Heerma van Voss.

Dutch architect & urban planner Jan Willem Petersen tells about his field-research in Afghanistan.

Meeting with tribal leaders and family representatives of Gizab district Uruzgan
Image 2015 by Jan Willem Petersen (Third from the right).

In 2015 the Dutch architect/ urban planner Jan Willem Petersen went for several months to Afghanistan on a mission of his own initiative. Since 2001, Afghanistan has been the stage of the largest reconstruction mission in recent human history. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has taken tens of thousands of projects to rebuild the country ravaged by decades of civil war. Now that the international community is preparing its withdrawal from the country and the end of the reconstruction mission is in sight, the opportunity arises to visit Afghanistan and assess the legacy of the efforts made.

Also the Netherlands has made a major contribution to Afghanistan with different missions. It has been five years since the Task Force Uruzgan transferred responsibility for security and reconstruction of Uruzgan province to ISAF partners Australia and the United States. Given the substantial contribution from the Netherlands through hundreds of projects, the time has come to demonstrate for the first time the spatial dimension of the reconstruction mission. How do the schools, roads, mosques, hospitals, government buildings, water networks, factories, bridges, prisons, police stations and even an airport nowadays function? How do the western interventions hold up the challenging Afghan realities?

This project attempts to provide insight into this largely hidden aspect of the mission, and aims to take lessons for future missions to come.

Read more on his website: www.specialistoperations.eu

Bradley MacCallum (USA) embedded with the Coalition for the International Criminal Court in The Hague

Bradley MacCallum (right) in the ICC office with Bill Pace (left), 2015

"Sitting in the very very back of this large auditorium listening to and watching this intensely bureaucratic process unfold, I found myself oddly inspired".

It was after creating his first painting in the series Witness and Endurance – a hyper-realistic rendering of Thomas Lubanga, based on a photograph of Lubanga taken at the moment the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first ever guilty verdict – that artist Bradley MacCallum approached the Coalition for the International Criminal Court. To further develop the series of paintings he felt that he needed to learn from the expertise of those working in the field. The Coalition (the NGO coalition that works with the ICC) agreed to partner. During the course of a year long embedded research residency, he attended close-door meetings with the principles of the ICC and leading civil society activists to discuss the core issues facing the Court.

Read more on his website: Bradley MacCallum


"The word embedded is a bit problematic, it all depends how you interpret it."

Danielle van Zuijlen plunges into the intricate workings of real estate and politics of a Ghent neighbourhood where she lives herself. Listen to the interview here

Fieldresearch in the Southern States

Deltaworkers in New Orleans is a nomadic artistic production and residence program that investigates the Southern States as one of the last mythical places in the West.

Antenna: Would you call Deltaworkers an embedded residency?

Deltaworkers: In a way I can understand that people would think of us as an embedded residency but that has to do with the fact that we choose to be in a certain way in New Orleans; we choose to cooperate with so many people and organisations in the city. We choose to only have a house and use the facilities the city has to offer. So in that sense we are embedded deeply. Not in a neighbourhood but in the cultural scene of New Orleans. And you have to understand: New Orleans is almost like an island. Looking at the geography of this place it is hard to understand that someone 300 years ago thought that it was a good idea to build a city here! We are in the middle of the swamps; the only way to reach it is by a 40 km long bridge either over a lake or through the swamps (or by plane or by boat of course).

read the interview here

"Sort of Aloof" - Visions on Embedding

Why do artists, organisations, biennials and even a city terrain embed themselves, in another environment or even in an environment where they already are? That question was addressed during an afternoon conversation at the Symposium Casting the Seeds of Tomorrow on June 4, 2015, at the Navy terrain in Amsterdam.

Artists, curators, designers, and cultural programme directors shared their visions on 'embedding', interpreting and giving meaning to a state of mind: somewhere on the line of coming, being, going.

Read the conversation here.


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