Kees de Groot

#ASK: Kees de Groot from TEC ART

Since 2014, TEC ART Festival has been an integral part of Rotterdam Art Week. During this week, the entire city is dominated by contemporary art and design, and TEC ART adds, among other things, rebellious exhibitions, talks and big parties to that formula. Their program in WORM is linked to urgent social developments and explicitly relates to the impact of technology on our society, both today and in the future. TEC ART works at the exciting intersection of art, creative technology and science, delving deeper into topics such as fake news, artificial intelligence, the dominance of major tech companies, and robotics. For this edition of #ASK, we interview Kees de Groot, creative director of TEC ART, about what we can expect from the festival this year.

Can you perhaps give us a sneak peek of what we can do and see during TEC ART this year?
The closed-off Boomgaardstraat next to WORM will once again be transformed into a playful open air cyberpunk arena, a festival site with robotics, spacey performances, immersive installations, performances, fire and spectacle. An old Soviet helicopter (which ended up in Hungary via Russia and served as an air ambulance and later as an agricultural spray helicopter) will act as DJ Booth. The futuristic MadMax Wastelanders of Abacustheater will be driving around. The Move Around Soundsystems party everywhere. And as befits TEC ART, the program is chock-full of games and video installations.The exhibition rooms of TEC ART contain a mix of top international art and up-and-coming talent. The absolute highlight will be the game installation NEXT SPACE REBELS by Floris Kaayk, winner of the De Volkskrant Visual Art Prize and a Golden Calf film award. Next Space Rebels players are part of an activist organisation that builds its own rockets and launches them into space to ensure an independent, free internet. You also shouldn’t miss THE NEMESIS MACHINE by the English artist STANZA; a 50 m2 sculpture about data control and surveillance technology.

What is involved in setting up such a festival?
We try to actively involve the participating artists and the public, both with each other and our theme. This year that is SO FUTURE, from Solarpunk to Metafuck. This creates new collaborations and connections. The festival experience should feel like an organic whole, and not just a series of separate, standalone programs. TEC ART, as well as sister festival GOGBOT in Enschede, effectively function as GESAMTKUNSTWERKEN. In terms of production, this means being flexible and building (and dismantling) an extreme amount in a short span of time. The entire Boomgaardsstraat will be completely transformed and made unrecognisable within a week.

How would you describe your relationship with the city of Rotterdam?
I think Rotterdam is a fantastic and inspiring city. The cultural climate, the architecture, the water, the ports, the scale, the people. But especially the city’s focus on the future 🙂

What are you most looking forward to during the upcoming edition of Rotterdam Art Week?
All of the beautiful art and the reactions of the visitors. During Rotterdam Art Week, you really notice that the overall vibe in the city is completely dominated by art. We hope some TEC ART will offer a welcome change within the complete program. It was made possible in part by WORM, Rotterdam Festivals and OCW.

Watch the Next Space Rebels trailer here