His voice, he lives on. Thursday 29 December Radio maker, storyteller, magazine maker, composer, theater maker, ‘mirror’, audio tour pioneer, organizer, gallerist, manager of the European Mail-Order House and – above all – Fluxus artist Willem Cornelis de Knight (1939) , in Amsterdam.
Willem de Ridder’s intoxicating voice was perhaps his greatest achievement, culminating in the legendary – illegal – audio tour of the Stedelijk Museum in 1997, where he gave adventurous art lovers (the headphones were delivered around the corner from the museum, in the Apunto gallery). ) pointed to all sorts of secret artworks that he had installed in the Stedelijk. While other visitors marveled at the highlights of the permanent collection, the headset-wearing groups searched for works that De Ridder had added to the collection, including a displaced piece of marble: “It may be that the stubborn management of the museum removes again and again, but nothing prevents you from putting something small in it. If you have something in your pocket or handbag that you can afford to lose, put it in there. A small cotton ball or whatever is enough. It makes the artwork stronger, it is called: Black Hole, and dates from 1995.”
Cheerful disruptive anarchism
Everything that Willem de Ridder stood for – public participation (Jeder Mensch ist ein Künstler, said Beuys), cheerfully disruptive anarchism, a healthy aversion to institutions (such as museums) and aversion to art with a capital A – come together in this audio tour, as in itself can be seen as a work of art.
Because it is, this Fluxus pioneer – a movement with the most famous representatives such as Joseph Beuys, John Cage and Yoko Ono, founded by George Maciunas in 1962, who in 1964 appointed De Ridder as Fluxus representative in Northern Europe, with the words: “You are Fluxus” – together with art brother Wim T. Schippers it finally happened again: All great innovators, non-conformists and unorthodox, even the creators of anti-art, eventually end up in the museum domain. Oppressive tolerance in the art world, embrace and encapsulate – no one can escape it. De Ridder’s collection of Fluxus art was purchased by MoMA in New York. The Stedelijk itself also contributed: the premiere of the documentary film ‘The missing artworks of Willem de Ridder’ – many of De Ridder’s artworks were found to have been removed after the renovation of the Stedelijk – was organized in the museum in 2016.
Also in De Ridder’s other activities, his passion for publicly mixing the everyday and the unusual, the artistic and the banal always came to the fore. The magazines he invented (or created) – such as Hitweek, Aloha, Suck (‘First European Sexpaper’) – were largely written by the readers themselves, and the artwork consisted in the best tradition of cutting and pasting. He was involved in the establishment of Paradiso in Amsterdam, sent thousands of VPRO radio listeners on all kinds of tasks, with unforeseen dangers. In recent years he has devoted himself to Ridderradio, ‘created and maintained by many fans’).
De Ridder founded the Mood Engineering Society (MES) in the 1960s, which included well-known composers such as Peter Schat, Misha Mengelberg, Louis Andriessen and Dick Raaymakers, a collective where visual arts, theater and music were mixed together, unique before it. time. At musical performances by Fluxus artists, there was often more to see than to hear: a composition from 1962 by George Brecht is therefore called: ‘Piano Piece No. 1: A vase with flowers on (for) a piano’. In 1964, a ‘Concerto for Sandwiches’ and a ‘Concerto for Wrapping Paper’ (both compositions by Wim T. Schippers) were performed at the Kurhaus in The Hague, organized by De Ridder.
Back to art
After he had finished the art academy in 1960, Willem de Ridder decided to stop painting and from then on ‘Papier Constellation’ was the focus. In an amusing black-and-white video (viewable on willemderidder.com) we see a car driving, buried under piles of paper, accompanied by two motorcycles with a sidecar: “Accompanied by a police escort, Willem de Ridder’s Paper Constellation has December 16, 1963 drove through the center of Amsterdam for some time. It is intended that this PK, which is the abbreviation of Papieren Constellation, should also be run in other cities. By adding a PK to the cityscape, Amsterdam is transformed into one large work of art where everyone participates. According to Willem de Ridder.”
De Ridder has – more than his comrade Schippers – achieved great prestige abroad, and the influence of Fluxus – or perhaps: the combination of absurdism, humor and anarchism – on contemporary artists such as Maurizio Cattelan, Gelitin and Dennis Tyfus is undeniable. . The equality between art and everyday life, the ever-present sense of humor (no blessed marriage in combination with art in the Netherlands), his love of a good story, his joie de vivre and his voice will forever resonate.
On Monday evening, January 2, from 21:00 to 23:00, Willem de Ridder gets attention on Ridderradio (ridderradio.com), and the listener can participate in the conversation in De Ridder’s style.