Liesbeth Bik and Jos van der Pol have been collaborating under the name Bik Van der Pol since 1995. In joint projects they intensify the circulation of knowledge: The reactivation of history and memory provides the basis for an associative dialogue about the significance of information.
For some time now, Bik Van der Pol have been researching situations, in which the commitment to a specific “temporality” in art production leads to radical decisions in the field of a cultural or art practice. They are especially interested in ruptures and unconditional changes of direction that question the course of (art) history. In 2001, performance pieces of the US-American conceptual artist Lee Lozano inspired a collection of exemplary radical gestures (statements, events, actions). The artistic interpretation of this ongoing research—in drawings, videos, and installations—deals with questions about how radical interventions survive in history, if they per se expire, or how they are integrated into current interests as commodities.
The project titled Past Imperfect consists of a series of exhibitions accompanied by a journal. In 2005, presentations take place at the Witte de With (Rotterdam), at Casco (Utrecht), and at the Secession. Bik Van der Pol develop a format that goes beyond Lee Lozano as a person and looks at the fascinating aspects she incorporated by means of her work: control, destruction, disappearing, and ultimately the absence of discourse and dialogue about her work. This interest leads to a more abstract investigation of the experience of knowledge, and how political or individual radicality influences or even forms public spheres. In addition to “case studies” from the art world—like Bas Jan Ader, Lee Lozano, and others—the reflections of Bik Van der Pol also integrate other areas, moments of film history—the 10-hour original version of Greed by Erich von Strohheim, or Howard Hughes retreat into solitude—, instances from politics, literature, secret service, science, or everyday life.
At the Secession Liesbeth Bik und Jos van der Pol, among other things, look at the Trinity Site in New Mexico, a piece of land that in the public eye transformed from secret nuclear test site to a tourist attraction. The first atomic explosion did not happen in Japan, but in New Mexico—in an area that today is called Trinity and is not permanently open to the public. Twice a year, however, tourists are granted access. In the 1950s and 1960s Trinity was the site of momentous events that went unnoticed by a wider public or were not seen in their full radical meaning.
The sudden reemergence of a public debate about possible uses of nuclear energy and the phenomenon that the topic has been absent from the media during the last 15 years were impulses for the artists to go and visit Trinity Site in order to collect material for a film, that is now for the first time presented at the Secession.