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Niet Normaal Difference on Display
Job Koelewijn, Boys and Girls, 2006
Julika Rudelius, Forever, 2006

The exhibition, Niet Normaal · Difference on Display, calls into question the functioning of norms and difference in today’s society. By critically reflecting on the concept of normality, the art exhibition creates room for divergence from dominant norms on the basis of health and able-bodiedness. The aim is to create an alternative esthetic by which diversity can be valued and appreciated.

The exhibition Niet Normaal · Difference on Display departs from a paradox that is becoming increasingly evident in today's society. Crossovers and dynamic partnerships between empowerment movements and intelligent machines offer promising possibilities in terms of diversity and difference. However, commerce and global economics tend to exploit new developments in biotechnology, robotics and virtual technologies, primarily in favour of normality and homogeneity. Before long, governments and companies, as well as citizens themselves, could come to discriminate not only on the usual grounds (gender, race and culture), but also on the basis of health status and genetic constitution. The problems we could come to face in this genocracy could overshadow those of globalisation and multiculturalism.

Niet Normaal · Difference on Display brings art, science and lived reality together, but in more than just an abstract sense. They engage visitors in direct experience of the paradox. The emancipation and resistance of minority groups, experiences with alternative forms of living, along with developments in the fields of neuroscience, bio-informatics and robotics, have upset the traditional image of a human being as an autonomous individual fully in charge of his or her environment. Artists have also been exploring the shadow-side of these developments via their particular sensibilities. An unflinching focus is thrown on bio-politics and the makeover culture, on engineering ideologies and strategies of normalization to which we are all exposed in our daily lives. A growing appreciation of the coincidental nature of our biological existence and realization of our human interdependence plead for a different view of the world. Feminist and integrationist utopia's are being reconsidered, not only in a critical but also affirmative manner. Meanwhile, fascination for the sensational and voyeuristic interest in the transparent, perfected but also the imperfect body, are tactically used to draw and focus attention. Difference on Display is about seduction and repulsion, about admiration and hate, and above all about fear of illness, otherness and death while that is perhaps what makes us human after all.

All of this is set in sharp relief through the unexpected angle from which this story is told. It is not the standard person who is on display here, but instead people who deviate from what is often considered 'normal,' people who are seen as 'different' not because of their ethnic background, religion or sexual orientation, but because of their health status. Will they have opportunities to become equal participants in our hyper-technological society, or is a new dichotomy, this time based on physical condition and genetic make-up, our future?

With works of
Artists, scientists, writers. With objects and artefacts, films and documentaries. With texts and quotations and with interactive and intelligent technologies. For list of artists www.nietnormaal.com

Commission of recommendation
- Hedy d’Ancona, chair of various cultural institutions and advisor on emancipation and culture. Former minister of Welfare, Public Health and Culture
- Joop van Caldenborgh, director Caldic Chemie, private art collector
- Job Cohen, mayor of the city of Amsterdam and member van Tasforce Handicap en samenleving
- Hans Dijkstal, member of Taskforce Disability and Social Community
- Sjarel Ex, director Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam
- Charles Groenhuijsen, Writer, columnist, tv-producer, speaker
- Hans Kamps, chair of Crossover, Crown Council member of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER)
- Els van der Plas, director Prince Claus Fund
- Ute Meta Bauer, director Visual Arts Program, MIT, Cambridge
- Felix Rottenberg, Former chair PvdA, former Director De Balie, Amsterdam
- Peter Weibel, director ZKM, Zentrum Kunst und Mediatechnologie, Karlsruhe
- Nout Wellink, president De Nederlandse Bank

Commission of advice
- Roel Arkesteijn, freelance curator, Berlijn
- Lilet Breddels, director of Foundation Archis
- Marianne Brouwer, freelance curator, critic
- José van Dijck, Professor of television, film en culture, University of Amsterdam
- Huub de Groot, Professor of chemistry and coordinator medical systems, University of Leiden
- Bas Haring, Professor of public understanding of science, Leiden University
- Maria Hlavajova, artistic director, BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht
- Trudy Dehue Professor Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, author of 'de depressie-epidemie'
- Jacqueline Kool, trainer, advisor and writer on health issues and life management
- Miriam van Rijsingen, Professor art history and director of Arts & Genomics
- Karin Spaink, Publicist, columnist for Het Parool, De Groene Amsterdammer, advisor to ZonMw
- Jacqueline Schoonheim,. Lecturer/researcher on international law, University of Maastricht
- Jan Troost, Disability activist, ambassador for the program Enhancement Client Position
- Agnes van Wijnen, advisor Kantel Konsult, Dutch Coalition of Disability & Development

See full list of sponsors, partners and support at www.nietnormaal.com

Location
De Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam

Due at
16 december 2009 – 7 march 2010

Brochure
PDF: 1 MB [ download ]

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