Public Space With A Roof

PSWAR A Short History

PSWAR – A Short History

Public Space With A Roof (PSWAR) was founded in 2003 in Amsterdam by the artists Tamuna Chabashvili (Georgia, 1978), Adi Hollander (Belgium, 1976), Alon Levin (Israel, 1975), Wartan Aror Jiftian (Lebanon, 1975) and Krzysztof Wegiel (Poland, 1973). It was initiated as a research project-space with the aim to enable the artists to develop and present their ideas, realize collaborative projects and engage in critical discourse. From 2006, PSWAR are Tamuna Chabashvili, Adi Hollander and Vesna Madzoski.

In this period, different individuals have joined PSWAR for certain period of time, among which were: Inga Zimprich (Jan van Eyck art researcher), Eva Fotiadi (PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam), Mhairi Macfarlane and Andrew McKee (new media artists), Manu Tao (artist), Davide Manzoni (interior designer), Noa Roei (PhD candidate at Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis), Angela Serino (independent curator), and many others.


Period 2003–2007

In the period December 2003 – December 2007, all PSWAR activities took place in the gallery at the former Film Academy at Overtoom 301 in Amsterdam. The main idea behind our activities was to create a transparent and permanent space in which to bring together theory and practice of art and exhibition making, as well as to include public in the process of discussing and presenting artworks. Our role in this was multifaceted: from initiating projects, to mediating projects of other people, facilitating their production and presenting them to the public. During this time, our theoretical curiosity was translated into practice through activities on two levels: of independent and solo-shows of individual artists, and our own large-scale research projects.


Solo-Exhibitions of Different Artists

As artists, we recognized the need to create a space in which it would be possible to discuss the “world” behind the artwork, and at the same time gain and exchange information, new concepts and thoughts. We found it inspiring and necessary to look into the construction mechanisms of theory that could challenge our arguments (conceptual, visual) and create a ground for new ideas and forms to emerge. At the same time, we believed that sometimes art theory separates itself too much from the actual artistic creation and artworks and therefore we decided to bring them together to create enriching and challenging connections for both sides. Rather than presenting artworks as final products, we decided to focus on presenting them in progress and making them visible in the form of independent solo exhibitions of various artists. This way, the public became involved in the artistic production in a particular manner: the usual spectators were invited to fully participate and react to what was being presented to them.

One of the main achievements during this time was our ability to function as a noncommercial and nonprofit space: without being forced to develop products for the art market, the artists were given a possibility to risk, test, experiment and develop with the necessary theoretical reflection.


PSWAR Projects

The second level of our artistic activities were our large scale projects. After finishing Sculpture department at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, we felt the urge to find a format in which we could openly discuss the questions and ideas we had as starting artists – especially the possible redefinitions of public art and the possibilities to share our working process with the public. That way, PSWAR has become a specific extension of our own artistic practice, our open studio.

The conceptual diagram of the phases through which our works develop could be presented like this:


• Starting Questions
• Research
• Installation turned into exhibition
• Lectures and discussions
• Conclusions and new questions


This way, our projects offer a specific kind of a journey that begins with the starting questions and ends with a new set of questions which we transfer and explore in the new project. Therefore, our every next project is a continuation of the previous one, dealing with new topics and new questions that will be further discussed by the broader public.

The artistic form in which all this becomes physically manifested is an installation: for each project, we created specific installations in our project-space that were turned into rhetorical sculptures. We see them as rhetorical as they provide the setting in which questions are to emerge, without giving predetermined answers. Having the aim to create an art object that can be turned into a space in which different works and opinions are to be encountered, we have decided to implement the works of other artists into installations as quotes, as specific readymades, giving them new platforms from which to communicate with the public. We believe that our spatial interventions are done not as mere esthetic objects, but have the ability to transfer our starting questions onto another level on which it becomes possible to reexamine the positions of the artists today and the function of exhibitions within this. Therefore, we see our practice on the border with many disciplines (curating, critical theory, social engagement, etc.) and our position as artists using the exhibition as their main medium.

Period after 2007

Since the summer of 2007, PSWAR entered into a new phase, mainly motivated by the need to expand and test our work in new environments. We have decided to close our project-space at OT301 since we reached the aims set at the beginning. Our studio and office space are now located at Orteliusstraat 15, 1057 AR Amsterdam where we are developing new projects hosted by different institutions in the Netherlands and internationally.