Submarine Wharf: Atelier Van Lieshout - Infernopolis

design: Thonik
design: Thonik

29 May – 26 September 2010

This summer the Port of Rotterdam and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen are transforming an abandoned submarine wharf into the largest exhibition space in the Netherlands. Atelier Van Lieshout has been invited to make the inaugural exhibition. ‘Infernopolis’ addresses issues that are central to Atelier Van Lieshout’s practice including autonomy, self-sufficiency, power and the economy.

In the Submarine Wharf, with an area of almost 5000m2, Atelier Van Lieshout – established by the Rotterdam-based artist Joep van Lieshout in 1995 – is exhibiting two immense installations and a forest of sculptures. Together these elements form a terrifying setting in which the leading role is played by medical instruments, vacuum pumps, flayed bodies, human excrement, giant sperm cells and bodily organs.

Endless circulation
Visitors to ‘Infernopolis’ move among sinister installations and tableaux in which the distinctions between good and evil, life and death, and reality and fiction are erased. Atelier Van Lieshout’s fascination with systems is clearly manifest in the art work The Technocrat (2003-2004), which comprises all manner of apparatus, containers, beds and distillation vats. Together they form a closed circuit of food, alcohol, excrement and energy. Cradle to Cradle (2009) takes the principle that human waste can be food to the extreme. Looking at this art work, it quickly becomes clear that this machine recycles everything, even people.

Vision of the future
The exhibition in the Submarine Wharf contains Atelier Van Lieshout’s most recent sculptures, which have never previously been exhibited. These works illustrate the evolution of a new culture resulting from a society of over-consumption and scarce resources. In this culture we see a harshening of relations between people and an increased will to survive. Through battle scenes and a large, abstracted cannon (WW III, 2010) Atelier Van Lieshout provides a glimpse of a possible future.

Submarine Wharf
The exhibition in the Submarine Wharf is a partnership between the Port of Rotterdam and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. The Submarine Wharf, built between 1929 and 1938, is comparable in size to the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in London. For the next five years, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen will organise a different exhibition each year at this extraordinary location. Tickets to the exhibition are for sale at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, including a ticket for the Aqualiner, which leaves for the harbour every hour from the centre of Rotterdam. Practical information

Joep van Lieshout
Joep van Lieshout (1963, Ravenstein) lives and works in Rotterdam. Since the eighties he produces objects in polyester, the material that would become his trademark in subsequent years. In 1995 he founded Atelier Van Lieshout, undermining the myth of the individual artistic genius. Atelier Van Lieshout has attained international recognition for objects that occupy the middle ground between art, architecture and design.

Activities and booklet
Infernopolis is accompanied by a rich programme of events, including free guided tours, an interview with the artist and a debate. Each visitor will receive a complimentary booklet with an extensive essay about the exhibition. You can also watch a video about the Submarine Wharf and the exhibition on ArtTube (

For more information about the Submarine Wharf, the exhibition, activities and practical information, visit:
The exhibition is part of the official programme of Holland Art Cities 2009-2010.