For many years, the artist Antoni Muntadas (Barcelona, 1942) has explored the relations between mass media and art. The exhibition in Witte de With is devoted to three works, a new work titled On Translation: The Audience, a reinterpretation of the installation Between the Frames and a reconstruction of the well-known video installation The Board Room.

The project On Translation: The Audience is a new work by Antoni Muntadas consisting of eleven large photographic triptychs each of which were shown in a cultural institution in Rotterdam for one month and are now brought together for the first time in Witte de With.

Between the Frames (1983-1993) explores the art world. The installation is the outcome of the close collaboration of Muntadas, Witte de With’s staff, and dr. W. De Nooy from the faculty of History and Art Studies, Erasmus University, Rotterdam. It encourages a form of ritual interaction between the audience and the players of the art world. Seven monitors show videos, each of which focuses on one segment of the art market and its players: dealers, museum directors, gallery owners, collectors, critics and the media. In the videos, which constitute a veritable portrait of the art world of the eighties, interviews are larded with metaphors; the ocean tides allude to the critics’ fashion swings, the Tokyo Stock Exchange refers to the collectors’ breathless activity.

Each monitor is in its own sphere. By wandering from sphere to sphere, the visitor traces the movements of the public. Inside each sphere, he can watch the video, whose documentary method promises the visitor authentic insight into the art world. The interviews are in the original languages (translations are provided on paper), whose accents and sounds invoke the rich complexity of the art world.

The Board Room (1987) explores the relations between religion, economy and the media. The installation shows a dark room featuring a burgundy red carpet and a (board room) table with thirteen chairs. Upon entry, the visitor hears a persistent humming sound. Soft light focuses on a series of large, hand-colored photo portraits of famous religious leaders. Among the religious figures are the TV evangelists Billy Graham and Pat Robertson, Islamic leader Ayatollah Khomeini and Pope John Paul II. What seemed a humming sound before appears on closer inspection to be the sound of video excerpts which present a series of speech fragments of the respective leaders. The excerpts stem from small screens which are mounted on the mouths of the religious figures. They illustrate the ways in which organized religion partakes of marketing techniques and media spectacle, thereby blurring the lines between evangelical meeting, rock concert and campaign rally.


A monograph titled On Translation: the Audience accompanies the exhibition. It includes texts written for this occasion by the French ethnographer Marc Augé and the Catalan anthropologist Octavi Rofes. The publication also contains Barbara Kirshenblatt Gimblett’s Confusing Pleasures and a reprint of Walter Benjamin’s classic text The Task of the Translator.