‘De wereld deugt wijzelf helaas wat…

‘De wereld deugt, wijzelf helaas wat minder’ At years end, rethinking The Family of Man

de Appel, Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 10, Amsterdam
Before starting to make art in the early 90s, Ritsaert ten Cate (born 1938) worked for more than thirty years in the theatre world. He was the man behind the legendary Mickery, a production centre for experimental theatre and an important venue for performance art in the 70s. At a later stage he became director of DasArts, Amsterdam’s inter-disciplinary workshop for theatre, dance and mime. He made numerous performances for which he also designed the decors and wrote scripts. De Appel has invited Ten Cate to put together an exhibition based on the idea of ‘the artist as curator’. The exhibition takes its title from Leo Vroman - ‘De wereld deugt, wijzelf helaas wat minder’ (The world is fine, we ourselves unfortunately somewhat less) - and consists of collage-like sculptures and installations full of references to politics, history and existential issues regarding the good and evil in man. Enlarged newspaper photographs wind like a snake through the exhibition rooms. Walls are covered from top to bottom with art works selected by Ten Cate, many of them from his own collection, together with newspaper cuttings, so that topicality merges with (art) history. Without exception, the artists he presents are placed in the perspective of the world of which they are, or were, a part. In the hands of the artist, harsh reality acquires a special light. Ten Cate assembles existing objects into a contagious theatrical universe: a doll decked out with pearl necklaces, wig, camouflage suit and boa next to an inflatable version of Edvard Munch’s scream, miniature military toys and an almost two metre tall cast concrete representation of Keith Haring. He rearranges decors and props, he directs and stages until a coherent image is created. In ‘De wereld deugt, wijzelf helaas wat minder’, Ten Cate offers a critical view of social relationships in a playful and surprising way. As though trying to keep pace with this crazy world, he makes images and installations pass by at a breakneck speed, as stories or presentations dealing with how people see, focus and experience. Based on the memorable exhibition ‘The Family of Man’ from 1955, which was assembled around universal themes like love, children and death, Ten Cate presents a different view of the world than that of the makers of the exhibition at the time of postwar reconstruction. As a counterpart to misery and injustice, the show of Ten Cate also offers images of hope, happiness and love, thereby suggesting that life can be celebrated as long as one continues to believe in it and participates in it passionately. Images: room 1 1 Keith Haring, ‘Totem' (1989), Thanks to Rijksakademie, Amsterdam 2 Madonna (17th century) 3 Ritsaert ten Cate, ‘Smile’ (2001), Courtesy Reutengalerie, Amsterdam 4 Ritsaert ten Cate, ‘A Sunset Kind of Thing’ (2004) 5 Ritueel beeld (Stille Oceaan) 6 Ritsaert ten Cate, ‘Merry X-mas’ (2004), Courtesy Reutengalerie, Amsterdam room 2 1 Robert Longo, ‘Jonathan’, ‘Men in the Cities’-series (1988) 2 Narcisse Tordoir, part of the installation 'L'Africeur de Bogolan' (2003-04), collection of the artist 3 Karen Ballard-Pool, ‘Saddam Hussein op de dag van het tribunaal verhoor in Bagdad op 1 juli 2004' (2004), © Karen Ballard-Pool / Reuters 4 Gilbert & George, ‘The Singing Sculpture by John and Anne Abbot’, ed. 95/100 (1993), Thanks to Stichting DasArts, Amsterdam 5 Albert Eckhout, 'Portret van een Afrikaan' (Dom Miguel de Castro), Thanks to Nationaalmuseet, Copenhagen 6 Joost van den Broek, ‘Theo van Boven' (2004), collection of the artist 7 Germaine Kruip , ‘Z.t.' (1998) 8 Thomas Schütte, ‘United Enemies - a play in ten scenes' (1994), Courtesy S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent 9 Francis Bacon, ‘Triptyque 72', ed. 86/180 (1989), Courtesy Livingstone Gallery, The Hague 10 Gerhard Richter, für Documenta, ed. 44/60 (1996) 11 Marlene Dumas, ‘Schets voor een Monument voor de Vrede', ed. 55/60 (1993) 12 David Hume Kennerly, ‘Donald Rumsfeld's Traveling Office Flies To Uzbekistan' (2004), © David Hume Kennerly/ Getty Images 13 Marc Wolfe, ‘Lord, grant me the strength...' (2004) 14 Michael Moore, Still uit 'Fahrenheit 9/11' (2004), © Lions Gate Entertainment 15 Ritsaert ten Cate, ‘The Dialogue' (2002), Courtesy Reutengalerie, Amsterdam room 3 1 Lie van de Werff, 'Van vaas tot been' (1998-99) 2 Roy Villevoye, ‘Pupís Pokmán’ (2000), collection of the artist 3 Nic Nicosia, ‘The Cast (Ms. D. Avignon)' (1985) 4 Jan Banning, ‘Neelie Kroes' (2004), © Jan Banning / Hollandse Hoogte 5 Ritsaert ten Cate, ‘Moeder en dochter' (2000), Courtesy Reutengalerie, Amsterdam 6-8 Marlene Dumas, ‘Purple Pose’, ed. 4/50 (1999); ‘Dorothy D-lite’, ed. 4/50 (1999); ‘Snowflake’, ed. 4/50 (1999), Private collection 9 Janneke Viegers, ‘Moeder’ (1992) 10 Ritsaert ten Cate, ‘Meisjeskop' (2002), Courtesy Reutengalerie, Amsterdam 11 Axel & Helena van der Kraan , ‘Tikkend vrouwtje' (1978) 12 Quirine Racké & Helena Muskens, 'Untitled' man/women' (2000) 13 Antoon van Welie, ‘Enny Vrede' (1910) 14 Mimo Paladino, 'Muto', ed. 3/35 (1985) 15 Advertentie 'Ironwolf Enterprises' (2004) room 7 1 Boom der profetieën' 2 Yang Zhenzhong, ‘I will die' (2001) 3 Willoughby Wallace Hooper, ‘Starving Indians, Madras (South India)' (1876), Thanks to Wim van Sinderen and Willem van Zoetendaal 4 Sharon Lockhart, ‘Untitled 2' (1983) 5 Ben d'Armagnac, Performance De Appel (1978) 6 Ritsaert ten Cate, ‘Onvoltooid verleden tijd' (2004) 7 Ritsaert ten Cate, ‘Zelfportret Rembrandt' (series 'Honestly stolen from the experience of a lifetime', 2001), Courtesy Reutengalerie, Amsterdam 8 Ritsaert ten Cate, ‘For the Birds', ed. 2/3 (2002), Courtesy Reutengalerie, Amsterdam 9 Shin Junsik, ‘Ee Mot Ko? #17', ed. 1/6 (2003) 10 Ritsaert ten Cate, ‘Brother' (2001), Courtesy Reutengalerie, Amsterdam 11 Saddam Hussein na zijn arrestatie door Amerikaanse troepenmachten 15 km buiten Tikrit op 13 december 2003, © ANP Photo 12 Ritsaert ten Cate, ‘9/11' (2001), Courtesy Reutengalerie, Amsterdam 13 Gerhard Richter, ‘S. mit Kind' 827-5 (1995), reproduction 14 Koos Breukel, ‘Michael Matthews' (1995)