From the 27th of october till the 8th of novmber Ad van Meurs and Ankie Keultjes will be touring trough the Heartland states in the USA to present the film to the people that are in it and also to present it to the audience.
At the same time they will also perfrom with their folkgroup The Watchman & The Folksurvivalclub.
In due time we will post a full intinerary of the trip and we will keep you posted about the event via this blog.
Ad van Meurs & Ankie Keultjes

Only a few days away from the opening on October 1st, the installation process of Heartland in Chicago has begun. It is fantastic to see another year of research trips, extensive talks with artists, partly about new commissions for the presentation, come into being.

The Heartland exhibition in the Smart Museum looks at the innovative forms of artistic creation taking place in the American Heartland.

This time Heartland is featuring site-specific installations and performances as well as drawing, photography, and video by artists and artist groups who are working in—and in response to—Detroit, Kansas City, and other cities and rural communities across the region.

Design 99 from Detroit extended their design of the independent cultural infrastructures into a movable sculpture, the Heartland Machine.the-heartland-machine-ready-float-through-the-smart-museum-2

Starting in Detroit with an old speedboat which towed behind their car they went on a 10 day road trip to Minneapolis, Kansas, Omaha and St. Louis to visit those spaces and the People who run them, collecting materials and stories that will be incorporated into the “machine”. On Saturday the Heartland Machine arrived in Chicago. With the help of the fantastic technical crew of the Smart Museum the boat found its final destination in the Heartland exhibition space:


Carnal Torpor, who are interested in using sensory experience, continued their research on the Calm Dome. Together with its collaborators they are building a sculptural environment the “Purification of the Calm Dome”.


The exhibition premieres new commissions and presents recent works by Carnal Torpor, Compass Group, Cody Critcheloe, Jeremiah Day, Detroit Tree of Heaven Woodshop, Design 99, Scott Hocking, Kerry James Marshall, Greely Myatt, Marjetica Potrč, Julika Rudelius, Artur Silva, Deb Sokolow, and Whoop Dee Doo.

It is great to be back in the Heartland and see this presentation take shape and we are looking forward to see all the project come into life….

Chicago greeted me with an event in the vicinity of art and history, a re-enactment of a panel discussion by art critics and historians like Rosalind Krauss performed by Jackson Pollock Bar as part of “Our Literal Speed”. After 12 hours of traveling time from Europe and 2,5 entertaining and yet forgotten movies, this performance was a warm welcoming into the world of conceptual art and yet into the world of art in Chicago. Programmed around the time of Art Chicago “Our Literal Speed” ( hosted a series of events and projects in different art related Chicago institutions.  Gallery 400, College of Architecture & the Arts, was the host of the actual exhibition opening of “Our Literal Speed”, featuring the live theory installation presented by the Jackson Pollock Bar, Alexander Dumbadze’s “Fuck It”, and Art & Language’s “Confession”.

Work of Carol Jackson at NEXT Art Fair, Chicago, 2009

It is only been 3 months since my last visit to the city and altogether the 7th research travel in the Heartland from Chicago to Detroit, Omaha, Kansas and back to the Netherlands. This time Stephanie and I further worked on the concept and artist projects of Heartland “Making the World You Want to Live In” at the Smart Museum in Chicago as well as on the Heartland publication that should be ready for the opening at Smart on October 1st.

Work of Carol Jackson at NEXT Art Fair, Chicago, 2009

My 2nd day in Chicago I spend in and around the Merchandise Markt, home of NEXT and Chicago Art Fair. At the fair I met up with Ruba Katrib, MOCA Assistant Curator. Together we visited the Freij Collection, one of the many private collections that the city has to offer. She is in preparation for CONVENTION at MOCA in Miami. She explains: “Convention examines forms of gathering in our society; every artist in the exhibition is examining this phenomenon from a different perspective.”

“In Miami, we have seen first-hand the enormous impact of events such as Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami International Boat Show, Winter Music Conference,” states MOCA Executive Director Bonnie Clearwater.  “In most cases, these mass gatherings alter the culture of the city.  Although the current economic recession is impacting participation in events such as these to a certain degree, conventions, meetings and informal social gatherings continue to play an essential role in effective networking, innovation, and serendipitous encounters.”

CONVENTION will feature performances, workshops, site-specific installations, and video projects by international and local artists examining the effects and roles of conventions, festivals, and other social and professional gatherings.  Participating artists include: Julieta Aranda, Fia Backström, Xavier Cha, Anne Daems & Kenneth Andrew Mroczek, Jim Drain, Fritz Haeg, Corey McCorkle, Dave McKenzie, Gean Moreno, My Barbarian, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Sean Raspet, Bert Rodriguez, Superflex & Jens Haaning and others to come. As pointed out by Ruba the exhibition’s interactive elements and open-ended format will actively engage the community and challenge the definition of a conventional museum exhibition. I am looking forward to the challenges that the museum encounters in a local setting that is mainly based on seasonal event culture.

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As a north-western European, there seems an obvious failure of political leadership at the civic level, with little thought in city hall as to how Detroit might be reimagined if it is not a car producing factory town. It makes one more content with economic initiatives like Brainport in Eindhoven or civic cultural ambitions in other European cities that are steered by democratic local government. Here landlords and private investors seem ridculously short termist, if art as a regeneration tool is mnetioned it is in terms of artists themselves providing the payback directly , not investing in a longer term process of tramsformation through gentrification etc. The artist initiative 555 for instance is being thrown out of their building before any glimmer of improvement to the economic conditions. Instead, their literal investment in the building in terms of cleaning and structural improvements will perhaps squeeze out a tiny profit for the shortsighted landlord. While I am very dubious of the critical value of the longer-term, planned economic instrumentalisation of art, at least it offers space and resources for artists to produce their own critical frames in the meantime - which is often enough to produce some excellent new work. It is also odd that this imaginative civic vacuum is happening at a time when there is certainly a new sense of political agency coming from the Obama government, combined with its apparant desire to remake the democratic context by speaking directly to constituencies and demanding an emotional change in social relations and senses of mutual responsibility. It is beginning to be inspiring to be in the USA again. Early days…but oh so much better than the last 20 years of end of history, triangulation, war on terror and all the rest of the crap excuses for exploitation.