Exeter Culture has commissioned an artist with a background in socially engaged practice to work with a community in Exeter.

The brief called for a creative practitioner with a track record of working with groups as part of their practice. We were looking for applicants who had worked nationally and/or internationally but also brought a clear understanding of small cities like Exeter.

Bik Van der Pol

Bik Van der Pol is the Dutch artist duo Liesbeth Bik and Jos Van der Pol, who have worked together since 1994 as conceptual and installation artists.

Exeter Culture has an international outlook, and it's important to us that we can see the city in relation to other cities. Bik Van der Pol has worked all over the world, and will bring that international outlook to the city with this first commission.

Departing from the belief that cultural institutions and their legacies are as much made up of stories, ephemeral objects, subtle traces and violent scars, our process of working can be likened to a forensic investigation that examines, tests and actively exposes that which lies concealed in the folds of history, sparked by an understanding that much remains active yet unnoticed in the layers of the past. To resist amnesia, to avoid falling into the trap of repetition, conservatism or fundamentalism, people’s activities (which make and determine history) must first be consumed and digested to make progression and change possible.

Taking the archives of RAMM and MET Office as point of departure for our project, we ask what connects certain objects and pieces of information? How do they contribute to the construction of history, whose history, and who decides? And what is, has been and continues to be the impact of such a history in the present? Through our project we aim to unfold the relationship between objects, stories, and global trade, and their implications. We aim to involve communities of schoolkids, since they are the future.
— Bik Van der Pol