Signature of the City
Open Issues
Prescription for Tomorrow
The S.R. Kucharski Project
Notes on Tomorrow's World

by S.R. Kucharski

March - April 2006, Straatgalerie, Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, Netherlands

One overlooked public project in Rotterdam is the Walk of Fame that extends from the Maritiem Museum to the Golden Tulip Hotel near the Erasmusbrug. This section of street contains a varied assortment of signatures in concrete from famous actors, musicians, artists and others (and their hand/foot prints) who have visited the city of Rotterdam and/or performed here. This “act” of recording the presence of the artist by recording their signature and embedding it in the ground is one small method of embedding importance into the relationship between Rotterdam as a city and the visual/music arts. Looked at from a reverse angle, the artists themselves become part of the city through the presence of their signature, retaining a bit of “ownership” to the city itself.

The signature of the artist, itself, has been a subject of great debate within the Twentieth Century, as the idea of the individual genius artist has given way to collaboration/group actions/anonymity, as well as mistrust in the “art star.” In this debate over the importance of the act of the signature (the defining mark…), the artist’s signature not only determines the completion of a work of art, it can also determine the works validity (i.e., is this a real Rembrandt or not?). The artist’s signature has also at times become a “living” signature, denoting a genius associated with the hand that produces the signature (i.e., Picasso signing napkins at restaurants in order to pay the tab…truth or fiction?). These issues related to the artist’s signature are all part of a post-modern debate over originality and identity, but at the heart of the debate is the relationship between artist and artwork, which proceeds the relationship of the art to the exhibition space, and the further relationship of the exhibition space to viewer. The signature, the act of signing, denotes the moment in which the art, artist, exhibition space and viewer begin upon a path of experience. The artist’s signature continues to provide a certain proof and security. At the most basic level, the signature shows “this is mine, I made this.” And, within other walks of life, the signature is what seals the contract.

It S.R. Kucharski’ intent to utilize this situation of signing/creating and placing/removing to create a “contract” between the new Straatgalerij and the Rotterdam public, to make a recording in both signature and image of the metropolitan character of a city. Under the intentions behind the initiation of the Straatgalerij (to create a new art-space that is attempting to reduce the separation between gallery/public space and inside/outside art-manifestations), the project being proposed titled Signature of the City will become a reflection of the people of the city of Rotterdam (and beyond…), as well as presenting the question: who owns this place/space, the artist, the viewer, the museum, and if the act of signing the “work of art” denotes ownership, can this place, the Straatgalerij, be a collaboration by all for all?

The action of signing and cutting-away in Signature of the City also shows an alternative aspect to the solidity of an exhibition space: making holes, giving it away for free, not keeping the viewer at a distance. The simple act of a signature becomes the first act of exchange for the Straatgalerij and the people of the city, facilitated by S.R. Kucharski in a site-specific interaction with the public within the gallery space over the duration of the exhibit Cut For Purpose.

Watch a video slide show of the work Signature of the City. (12mb .m4v file)