This book is published at the occasion of the exhibition No Rocks Allowed., curated by Haim Steinbach, in Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (October 17 – November 29, 1992).

Haim Steinbach gave his exhibition the title, No Rocks Allowed. probably on purpose, revealing something about the content of the exhibition or about his ideas. For the exhibition No Rocks Allowed. Haim Steinbach borrowed its title from the world of publicity. In advertising such a phrase alludes to the quality of the offered product. The product stands out from other similar products because of the way it is presented to us, such as ‘no rocks allowed.’

Haim Steinbach often employs in his work images and wordings conceived and created by others. Though it may sometimes seem as if the artist borrows and arranges them without pity, more often Steinbach’s activity leaves the impression of an obsessed but respectful collector at work. But the objects and slogans which Haim Steinbach shows always remain what they originally were: objects and slogans. It is up to the viewer to assess whether they will belong to the domain of art or not. Like the phrase “no rocks allowed,” it seems as if they are momentarily suspended.

This book, a photo album compiled and designed by Steinbach himself, serves as a continuation of the exhibition, while the images and texts that are brought together remain primarily autonomous works by others, both artists and non-artists. Let there be no misunderstanding about this. But, as the expanded title of this book, Ijskoude Douche (No Rocks Allowed.) suggests, something else occurs in Haim Steinbach’s selections and arrangements. Distinct from the majority of conceptual artists, Haim Steinbach wields the linguistic rendering of an (art) work neither to criticize more traditional art concepts nor to subscribe to the cynical acceptance, shared by many contemporary artists, of the corruption of language by the media. Haim Steinbach has been, however, very interested in the ‘ins and outs’ of art, especially those of contemporary art, whose singularity has been surpassed revealing a generic commitment to other worldly manifestations.

In the book, as in the exhibition, Haim Steinbach appealed to the full concept of comparison, taking the development of his own work and the other exhibitions which he had organized, the first dates back to the end of the seventies, into yet another dimension. Images and texts, which at first sight appear to have little in common, have been placed beside one another, under one and the same nomenclature, and in the name of something that we all allege to know: art.

Yet the images and texts which Haim Steinbach has brought together in this publication do bring some consolation because they actually have a mutual bond. In one way or another all refer to the theme of water. “Water as a social-cultural substance, as an object of deliberation,” has stated Steinbach. Perhaps we can add something to this: precisely because water, ‘the water,’ can also be interpreted as a ‘heterotopy’ – water sometimes abruptly appears and then quickly vanishes, it spills over and flows softly away, it finds its course or stands deeply still – it perfectly expresses the work of art’s hope for an art that really exists and yet remains utopian.