Non Zone by Ted Noten

Exhibition  /  13 Jun 2015  -  18 Oct 2015
Published: 20.08.2015
Non Zone by Ted Noten.
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Mienke Simon Thomas
Sjarel Ex
Ted Noten. Bag: Bird Bag in Paper, 2015. Nylon SLS 3d printed, yellow coloured. Ted Noten
Bag: Bird Bag in Paper, 2015
Nylon SLS 3d printed, yellow coloured
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What is value? What is originality? What is the difference between an original and a reproduction? Isn’t art always a reproduction of an idea or a perception? These are questions that preoccupy artist Ted Noten. For the exhibition ‘Non Zone’ this summer he is taking a risk: he is moving his entire studio to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and remaining behind in the empty space, his ‘Non Zone’. During this period he will reflect upon the origins of his work and keep visitors informed by sending a visual message each day from the ‘Non Zone’.

Artist list

Ted Noten
This summer Ted Noten (Swalmen, 1956) is exhibiting the installation ‘Non Zone’ in three of the museum’s galleries (1, 2 and 39). In one space he will build his own ‘Tower of Babel’ close to Bruegel’s famous medieval painting and in another he will exhibit paper replicas of the jewellery he has made over the past ten years. He will fill the third gallery with a mound of sand. Once a week a mechanical digger will move the sand from one side of the gallery to the other, in keeping with his motto: “to create you have to move”.

Noten will be constructing three large-scale installations as a means to reflect in multiple ways on the notions of originality and reproduction. Using not only his own work of the last ten years as material, Ted Noten’s spatial research will also incorporate the museum environment, as well as the studio where he creates his work.
Non Zone constitutes a visualisation of the processes of creating, collecting and showing, and the endless process of reproduction that works of art can subsequently go through. At the same time it reports on the state in which the art sector currently finds itself: a phase of redefinition and reinvention which is having repercussions on the work of the individual artist or designer (and cultural entrepreneurship) and, to at least the same extent, on museums, collectors, and the public at large. And which may be best regarded as an instance of reproduction.
The original and the reproduction: some background
The idea for Non Zone was spawned in 2013, while Noten was curating the exhibition ‘Framed By Ted Noten’ for the reopening of the Stedelijk Museum ’s-Hertogenbosch. As the curator of a wide-ranging collection of works that had spurred him on in his development as an artist, one of the works he chose was the painting The Tower of Babel by Pieter Breugel, a 16th century masterpiece from the collection of the Boijmans Van Beuningen. To ask the museum if he could have it on loan, Noten used a postcard displaying Breugel’s painting which he had bought at the museum shop in Rotterdam. On the back, he asked the museum’s director in friendly tones if he would temporarily part with the work and allow it to be featured in ‘Framed’. To no avail, as he was informed by text message: the Tower of Babel was an indispensable part of the museum’s permanent collection. And so, in the end, instead of displaying the painting, Ted Noten exhibited the postcard itself, including his written request and adding the electronic rejection. In addition, Noten had had 1,500 copies of the postcard made, which the public could take with them and put in the post. Which resulted in museum director Sjarel Ex being deluged with requests to have the painting on loan.
Because Noten had a number of wishes of the same calibre as his request for the Breugel when he was selecting work for the ‘Framed’ exhibition – unattainable requests in the early 21st century art climate – he was forced to consider the meaning of ‘original’ and ‘reproduction’. Instead of displaying a ‘real’ Bacon, would it be possible to order a copy of one of the British painter’s works from a Chinese studio, and include that in an exhibition? To allow yourself to make a statement about the art market gone haywire and the growing inaccessibility of many essential original works of art?
Even though this insight was still in development, the consideration appears to tie in with a technical development Noten had become interested in as a designer: the application of the 3D-printer. Basically, the Chinese studio  and the 3D-printer can be used to achieve the same goal: to create good copies of existing works.
Noten has done it, for instance, with a ring from the Amsterdam Museum’s historical collection. Taking this ring as a starting point he has made a lightly reworked copy version for the museum, printed in yellow acrylic and in large numbers, and bearing the tag line VAN ONS (‘ours’). Not long after this he was creating designs made specifically with this technology in mind, culminating markedly in the series ‘7 Necessities’. In it, Ted Noten developed shapes which demand such an extreme level of craftsmanship that they can hardly be made by hand, but which are no trouble at all for the sophisticated machine. In other words, in producing 7 Necessities the 3D-printer was no longer a tool for reproduction, but a creator of originals. Not the producer of a collection to go in the museum shop, but the producer of a collection to go in the museum.

Non Zone at Boijmans Van Beuningen
As indicated above, the exhibition Non Zone is a continuation of this line of thought. In three chapters Ted Noten will present a series of installations that constitute spectacular spatial interventions, to reflect on the context of a museum as well as on the designer’s work process and his working environment, and which form a critical comment on the too-commonly used term ‘transition’.
1. The tower
Tying in directly with his fascination with The Tower of Babel, he is covering Auguste Rodin’s sculpture ‘Eve after the Fall’ in a tower measuring about 10 metres across and 6 metres in height. The building materials come straight from Noten’s studio. Artefacts, materials, tools, computers, tables: like in a spring-cleaning he will be clearing out his workshop and using his things to rebuild his version of the tower of Babel in Rotterdam. The upshot is that his work space is turned into a tabula rasa for three months: a non-zone in which he will be forced to improvise in order to perform as a designer.
The only tool available to him will be a box that will be mounted on a wall inside his studio. It will contain some sheets of paper, a container for a small plant, and a camera. Every day Ted Noten will be taking notes in the box. A webcam-link will allow visitors to the exhibition to follow this intimate process in a small room off the main installation.
2. The replicas
A second space will be filled with a collection of around 100 replicas. Every piece of jewellery and every bag Ted Noten has made since 2006 – when his first monograph appeared, accompanied by an exhibition at Boijmans – will be reproduced for this installation. These will be 3D-printed versions, reproductions of the pieces on paper and in their original sizes.
3. The heap of sand
The final installation as part of this triptych offers a bird’s eye view of a big heap of sand. Using a radio-controlled model of a loader the sand mount is levelled and rebuilt elsewhere. So the sand moves from one end of the space to the other, and back again. Those who saw the quarantine-tent in which Ted Noten baptised his series 7 Necessities in ’s-Hertogenbosch will perhaps recognise the degree of inaccessibility inherent in this installation, too. The ostensibly pointless action – shifting sand for no purpose – is also a representation of the vacuum that surrounds any creative process.
With Non Zone Ted Noten is taking a significant step forward, liberating himself further from the restrictions of jewellery. After all: he developed his designer skills in this protected environment. Non Zone, by contrast, sees him seeking an uncertain outcome in uncertain times. It sees pride and perspective going hand in hand.
Gert Staal

The exhibition coincides with the launch of the book Ted Noten Ubiquist published by nai010 publishers. Ted Noten will be signing copies during the exhibition opening on the 19th June.
Ted Noten - Non Zone
Hans Wessels
In this video, Ted Noten talks about the background of the exhibition and his fascination with the painting 'The Tower of Babel' by Pieter Bruegel. For Noten ‘The Tower of Babel’ is a representation of the struggles of the artistic process.
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Room with Replicas.
Room with Replicas

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Room with the Tower.
Room with the Tower

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The Sand Heap.
The Sand Heap

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The Sand Heap.
The Sand Heap

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