RUW! – The Hague and Berlin artists’ books

Gallery exhibitions are a primary medium for visual artists, but the artists’ initiative RUW works differently. RUW is primarily a book in A3 format of original artworks. Each edition of 50 is produced several times a year in either Berlin or The Hague. And often each copy of RUW is also an original because most artists create original works. An example in a 2021 edition of RUW is a translucent page stained in subtle shades of khaki with a text about “khaki” being the Persian word for mud-coloured by Hague artist, Pieter van Splunter. Because of her medium, each of the 50 books containing her contribution is unique.  

RUW is an initiative of Hague-based artist Hans Konings and Berlin artists created while he was based in Berlin. In September 2022, RUW! had a showing in the Hilbertraum art space in Berlin’s hip neighbourhood of Neukolln. Half of the 32 artists are based in Berlin and the other half in the Netherlands. They showed works on paper that extended beyond the limits of the A3 page. Pietertje van Splunter’s work both maintained and squared the a3 format, by extending her work onto 4 pages. The work of another Hague-based artist, emjan, filled half a wall with dense texts and drawings reminscent of a graphic novel. Her subject matter? The Heard / Depp trial. Spread over the wall was an overload of pencilled text and imagery akin to the media hype of the whole fiasco, presenting us with a sense of ‘that’s just too much.’ Adjacent to this, the subdued Madonna and child by Carola Rombouts worked well in way of contrast. Rombouts had incised and scratched the paper itself, pulling the image out of the paper.

The artists in RUW! were: Hans Könings, Angeline Dekker, Carola Rombouts, emjan, Coos Dieters, Kees Koomen, Lucius Pax, Lula Valletta, Pietertje van Splunter, Pim Piët, Thom Vink, Dana LaMonda, André Smits/Monika Dahlberg, Jessy Rahman, Katharina Arndt, Hannah Becher, Linn Fischer, Thomas Hillig, Jakob Kirchheim, Petra Lottje, Paula Muhr, Kathrin Rank, Susanne Roewer, Eva Schwab, Poul R. Weile, Marian Wijnvoord, April Gertler, Mathias Deutsch, Hannah Goldstein/ Claudia Balsters, and Anja Schrey.   Sonja van Kerkhoff   26th September 2022