What makes crime stories continuously fascinating is the fact that the divisions between the criminal, the victims, and the audience are constantly blurred. We are all potential victims and (maybe, why not?) can become criminals.

While the exhibition–at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam–functioned more as a “space for experimentation,” this publication aims to cover not only detective fiction but also the subject-matter’s more theoretical, philosophical, and aesthetic aspects. Published after the closing of the exhibition, it should be considered as a continuation of the same process and as a resource in itself rather than simply a documentation or commentary.

As a literary approach to the theme we have specifically commissioned some works of fiction and have also decided to reprint three theoretical texts we found particularly relevant for this context. The essays were chosen, not necessarily to address the participating artists’ practices or artworks but rather to provide analysis of some of the issues that the exhibition aimed to raise. Another central aspect of this publication is the link between the installation views and the brief work descriptions of the various artistic propositions featured in the exhibition.

With both Tom Morton’s fiction story “The Thick End” and Astrid Trotzig’s threat letters, this publication aims to restage the premises of the exhibition by using the detective story genre in the medium of the book at its fullest. Fiction and theory merge and find equilibrium or balance in this publication with the inclusion of theoretical writings by Michael Zinganel’s “Crime does pay!: The Structure-Building Power of Crime for Urban Planning and Urban Experience,” and Alexandra Midal’s “The Designer as a Cheater,” alongside a reprint of the text “The Productivity of Crime” by Karl Marx.

This publication is occasioned by the group exhibition The Crime Was Almost Perfect (24 January – 27 April 2014) curated by Cristina Ricupero at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam.