Liesbeth Bik and Jos Van der Pol, School of Missing Studies, Sandberg Institute Amsterdam
Understanding artistic practice as a form of learning and as a space of experience and encounter, a strategy for emancipation, and a potential response to public issues, Bik Van der Pol, through their often site-sensitive practice seek to question ‘publicness’ as well as to generate public. Strongly believing in the ability of artists to be in charge of their own ‘context’ in a public environment – both in terms of production and presentation – they take the speculative, the undefined, and ‘the missing’ into account, while investigating the socio-cultural and political functions of public space as spatial practice through research into current developments of urban spatial politics, language, boundaries, borders, privatization and access, working in, and between areas of the arts, urbanism, technology and politics.
The artistic practice of Bik Van der Pol is collective, leaving the studio as a place of production and using the artistic workplace itself – practice – as the site of research and production. This is a conscious political and artistic choice, and also sets the conditions for a (social) space generated by dialogue and collaboration where an encounter may happen that might result in a work of art. Their work has shown an increasing focus on when and how public space ‘takes place’; on its conditions and (terms of) accessibility, exploring where and how art can create forms of knowledge. Similar to artistic practice, public space is a space of dissensus – a space of learning (by doing), of negotiating differences, of speculation and conflict. It is not a clean, pre-set space, but one that is murky, full of noise and continuously contested. They are advisors at the Jan van Eyck Academy and they run a temporary Master program at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam under the name The School of Missing Studies. Bik Van der Pol have worked collaboratively since 1995; and they live and work in Rotterdam.