The Crime Was Almost Perfect
Witte de With, Rotterdam
24 January – 27 April 2014

In 2009 Wysing commissioned the work Untitled (Gold) by Bik Van der Pol as an outcome of the Generosity residency. The work has remained on site as one of our outdoor sculptures until recently when it was sent to be on show at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam as part of their exhibition The Crime Was Almost Perfect.

Bik Van Der Pol, Untitled (Gold)

The work of Bik Van der Pol explores the potential of art to improve situations, add what is missing or highlight what’s hidden. The result of their research into the notion of generosity was Untitled (Gold), a work which looks at the perceived opposite of generosity – greed. The motto depicted in the work is an extract from a poem by the British poet Thomas Hood, which discusses how gold is a material that continuously tests both our generosity and our greed.

The exhibition at Rotterdam's Witte de With brings together over forty artists who cross the bridges linking art and the aesthetics of crime. Like any good detective story, art history is filled with enigmas, myths, and riddles waiting to be unraveled. Solving these intellectual puzzles is a common pleasure and few are immune to such a cultural temptation.

Although the link between art and crime can be traced back to ancient times, Thomas De Quincey explicitly theorized this connection in his notorious essay “On Murder Considered As One Of The Fine Arts” (1827). The nineteenth century also saw the growing importance of photography both in the development of criminology and in the new sensationalism of the tabloid press—two phenomena that popularized the genre of the detective story. Cinema soon became the perfect medium for capturing the dubious charm of violence and transforming it into pleasurable images.


Following De Quincey’s ironic proposal to analyze murder from an aesthetic point of view, The Crime Was Almost Perfect is an exhibition that invokes the spirits of visual art, architecture, cinema, criminology, and the modern crime genre, transforming the rooms of Witte de With and the streets of Rotterdam into multiple ‘crime scenes’.

Beyond crime, there is Evil. Thus The Crime Was Almost Perfect necessarily examines the relationship between ethics and aesthetics. Questioning the role of authorship, authenticity, trickery, and fraud, the exhibition blurs the dichotomy between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ taste, while also highlighting the double bind of ‘crime as art’ and ‘art as crime’.