HBU?Wherein certain persons…
TENT. , Rotterdam, 2006

This body of work forms an investigation of ‘Dutchness’ as a type of self-defined ‘cultural currency’: a joint venture combining the coinage of language concerning (e)valuation with the representations of forms of currency, along with the accountability of its (cultural) transaction. In this case ‘kas’, can be applied in many different circumstances and how, with each repetition and new application, inscribes an expanding ideological narrative. How a narrative is constructed, and also how things are connected in unexpected ways, can be seen in a series of works Ridgway developed in relation to associations with ‘kas’, using strategies of replacement, substitution and supplementation.

HBU?HBU? Double Channel video installation

The Hollandsche Bank-Unie. N.V., otherwise known as the HBU, is a bank proud of its history, rooted in the nineteenth century Dutch colonial experiment. It is the only bank in the Netherlands where you may purchase gold directly across the counter – in a small room called a ‘kas’. In her HBU project Ridgway proposes her own body, specifically her mouth cavity, as an extension of the ‘kas’ and embarks on a project to infiltrate the essence of the HBU: buying colonial gold, having it replace her existing amalgam filling, and documenting an uncommon union between dentistry and postcolonial theory.

Foot Fetish ConspiracyFoot Fetish Conspiracy

In Foot Fetish Conspiracy Ridgway recognizes the Prada Flagship store (designed by Rem Koolhaas), today’s premier Dutch export product in SoHo, New York, as a contemporary variant of the ‘kas’ and a rich metaphor for (proverbial) Dutch cultural currency. This piece in many ways is a re-routed return to Walter Benjamin’s beloved arcades. In a performative gesture that captures something of a Hitchcock-burlesque fusion, she makes particularly poignant use of Marx’s theory of commodity fetishism. Her secretly made video footage constitutes probably the last images of that Prada store’s interior before being destroyed by fire on the night of the January 21, 2006.

But our wager has always to be renewed, and it is we ourselves who produce various chances to respond.

(Guy Debord to Mohamed Dahou, Potlatch 29, November 5, 1957)

Text by Simon Ferdinando

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