Melanchotopia is a group exhibition of around 50 international artists invited by the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (Rotterdam, Holland) in order to produce new works or install existing works in different places of the city of Rotterdam. At the request of the curators, Nicolas Schafhausen (2006, Düsseldorf, Germany, director of the Witte de With since 2006), and Anne-Claire Schmitz, the artists must choose for their work urban spaces that belong to the citizens’ everyday life, instead of emblematic monuments or the city’s most famous modern architecture.
From large-scale interventions to subtle gestures, Melanchotopia opts for intuition and emotion rather than cold and analytical approaches to the urban context. Witte de With aims to direct our gaze to the rich texture of public life, calling on the artists to explore city life from this perspective. Melanchotopia is an exhibition about the reality of life today in Rotterdam.
The Witte de With venue becomes the epicentre of the exhibition, providing information about the location of the artworks around the city. The title Melanchotopia refers to the two sentiments the city evokes in its inhabitants. On the one hand melancholy, a nostalgic feeling about the past, and on the other utopia, the forward-looking vision of its populace.
Spanish artist Ricardo Okaranza (1959, Spain) is both an artist and a collector. He has for more than 15 years been collecting industrially produced ceramic jugs from the 1950s and 1960s which he uncovers in flea markets, especially in the city of Berlin. The artist recently began photographing his collection of jugs at home. More than simple photographic records, these are compositions of everyday life, the presence of flowers and the play of light serving as a metaphor for the passage of time. Okaranza’s contemporary still lifes evoke feelings of loneliness. A loneliness that can be understood as a symbol of the modern derangement or of the awareness of feeling different from the rest.
During Melanchotopia, Okaranza will be working at the Bilderberg Park Hotel. The artist will be installing still lifes, compositions of jars with flowers, in the hotel lobby and bar. The different floral arrangements will change each week, in close collaboration with the person usually responsible for this task. The first compositions will be photographed by Okaranza and displayed on the hotel walls, alongside the "real" still lifes. Two different times are thus experienced during the exhibition all at once: that of the photograph and that of the floral compositions, which are continuously changing.