Witte de With’s Melanchotopia is an exhibition that invites more than forty international artists to work with different venues in the city-center of Rotterdam – places where people live and work – and to activate their potential as spaces for ideas, discourse and invention.

From large-scale interventions to very simple gestures, Melanchotopia supports a range of artistic practices that go beyond the classical approach to displaying art in public space. Working with the existing dynamics of the city, Witte de With’s intention is to bring forward the diverse layers of daily life in Rotterdam, creating a rich framework for subjective encounters. It is an exhibition about the reality of Rotterdam.

Today, Rotterdam seems to be on hold between its past and its future: filled with nostalgia for the pre-WWII city and in wait for the utopian future, which is perpetually stalled in unfinished developments and reconstructions. Projections about yesterday and tomorrow drive the image of the city, that seems to lack a present. Melanchotopia performs the present of the city through the specific practice of each artist.

Over the course of the exhibition (and remaining active until 31 December 2011) Witte de With’s galleries is reconfigured to become the epicenter of Melanchotopia. The projects, which spread throughout Rotterdam’s center, are brought together via a graphic mapping. Several art works and installations are also on show inside the epicenter and it is the site for numerous events.

Besides its new function as an information center, Witte de With is equipped with a designed Pro qm bookshop and an auditorium dedicated to a side program of lectures and artist talks. Here is available the exhibition guide with Melanchotopia map. The comprehensive educational program provides guided tours, art encounters and a special audio tour.

All images published in the Melanchotopia catalogue were specifically commissioned to Steffen Jagenburg by Witte de With.

Side program

On an almost daily basis throughout the exhibition, the Melanchotopia epicenter hosts a variety of events. These include talks, lectures, book launches, film screenings and performances, all exploring different aspects of Melanchotopia’s themes. During these events, the Pro qm bookshop is open.


Workshops & master classes

The Melanchotopia epicenter also hosts several workshops and master classes, by artists from the exhibition and by invited professionals, including
– Stefan Kalmár & Richard Birkett (Artists Space, New York)
– Nicolaus Schafhausen, director, Witte de With
– Zoë Gray, curator, & Belinda Hak, business coordinator, Witte de With

Art Confrontations

Groups of (young) adults, students and secondary school students have the possibility to take part in an art confrontation as part of Melanchotopia. During an art confrontation, the group will view and discuss the exhibition together with an educator of Witte de With, who will encourage the group to look carefully at the works on display and form their own opinions of them. Art confrontations are designed to be accessible to all levels of education. An art confrontation takes 1 hour and costs € 2.50 per person (cash or cultuurkaart). A maximum of 30 persons can take part of an ‘art confrontation’ session.

Grand Opening

Friday 2 September 2011, starting from 1 p.m. till late

1 – 5 p.m.: Guided tours of the exhibitions, starting at Witte de With.
(Each tour lasts 45 min. They start at 1 pm; 1:30 pm; 2 pm; 2:30 pm; 3 pm; 3:30 pm; 4 pm; and 4:30 pm)
6 p.m.: Opening speech & drinks at Witte de With.
7 p.m.: Premiere of ‘Music for Melanchotopia’ for soprano and string ensemble by George Van Dam, live at the Rotterdamse Schouwburg.
9 p.m.: ‘It’s all downhill from here on,’ an event by Filip Gilissen, from sunset till sunrise, at the corner of the Karel Doormanstraat and Crispijnstraat.
10 p.m. till late: Party at Witte de With, DJ sets by Guillaume Bijl, Tobias Donat, Filip Gilissen, Kate Newby, Tobias Spichtig and Zin Taylor.


Witte de With – Center for Contemporary Art, SPAR Corandewal, Pathé Schouwburgplein, Weenink Bedrijfskleding, ROTTERDAM.INFO, Museum Rotterdam, Robeco, Bar Mon Cheri, Shop Erotica, Avondwinkel Alexia, Galerie VIVID, Willibrordschool, Rotterdamse centrum markt, Grotekerkplein, Beurs-World Trade Center, Stadswinkel Centrum Stadhuis, GRAND HOTEL CENTRAL, Q-Park Weena, Het Schieblock, The Manhattan Hotel, Nationale-Nederlanden, Rotterdam Centraal, Groot Handelsgebouw & Engels Grandcafé Restaurant Zalen, Rotterdamse Schouwburg, Mauritsplaats, Pauluskerk, Van Urk Piano’s & Vleugels, Jan Segeren herenmode, De Karel Doorman, Queens of Rings, Bilderberg Parkhotel, Buro Rietveld / Dutch Style Company, Stiltecentrum Erasmus MC, Hartman Binnenhuisadviseurs, De Havenloods.

—With Thanks To:

Art & Flywork, Berlage Institute, BQ Gallery, Bureau Stadsnatuur Rotterdam, Buro Rietveld, Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Centrum Beeldende Kunst Rotterdam, CityTec, Dagopvang Couwenburg, de+ge architecten, Delta Marine Consultants, Dutch Language Institute ITHA, Dutch Style Company, EIDOTECH GmbH, Etablissement d’en face projects, Galerie De Aanschouw, Gemeente Rotterdam, Gemeente Rotterdam Bestuursdienst, Gemeente Rotterdam Bureau Binnestad, Gemeente Rotterdam Publiekszaken, Gemeentewerken Rotterdam, Ramon ‘Tappie’ Gielen, Gypex vzw, Hartman Binnenhuisadivseurs, Havenbedrijf Rotterdam N.V., Holland Casino, Impulse Art Management, ING Art Collection, ING Real Estate, Jan Prins Openbare Montessori School, Maritiem Museum, Boudewijn Martens, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Museum Rotterdam, Nai, Nationale-Nederlanden, NEONWorks.ca, Nicolas Firket Architects, NS, off_corso, Pauluskerk, Piet Zwart Institute, Politie Rotterdam-Rijnmond, ProRail, Q-Park, Queen of Rings, R.S.C. Sanctus-Laurentius, Rupesh, Ramkisoesing, Regionaal Cameratoezicht, Rotown, Royal BAM Group, RTC, Sculpture International Rotterdam, Skyland offsetdrukkerij, Sprüth Magers Berlin, Stichting Kaus Australis, Stichting Veerhaven Rotterdam, The After Lucy Experiment, TheGreenEyl, Via Kunst, Weenink Bedrijfskleding, Wereldmuseum, Willibrordschool, ZUS.

—Supported by

VSB Fonds; SNS Reaal Fonds; Gobierno de Espana AC/E; Institut Francais; Creative New Zealand; Danish Arts Council; Canada Council for the Arts; Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

Rotterdam Tourist Map hijacked by Studio Matthias Görlich; Image Compositing: Felix Scheu; Printer: Druckerei Henrich, Frankfurt, Germany; Thank you to ROTTERDAM.INFO for permission to use their map.