This summer, TENT
presents an exhibition about the magazine Hard Werken as part of the series Rotterdam Cultural Histories. Between 1979 and 1982, only ten editions of this cultural magazine were published, yet it had a significant influence on a whole generation of graphic designers in the Netherlands and beyond. The presentation is curated by Reyn van der Lugt and Marjolein van de Ven.
The striking A3 format, its anarchic design contrary to typographic currents, the focus on photography, and its changing group of contributors for each edition mainly from the visual arts and literature immediately characterised this new initiative as a brash, elusive, and distinctly Rotterdam phenomenon. The magazine regularly featured Rotterdam writers and poets it once ran a prepublication of Jules Deelders book about the Rotterdam boxer Bep van Klaveren and provided commentary on Rotterdams urban and architectural developments, in particular against the nieuwe truttigheid (new drabness). Hard Werken became the voice of a dynamic, metropolitan, and international culture. More distinctive than its content was the magazines remarkable design; contrasting the mostly black and white pages was an exuberantly coloured cover. Hard Werken featured drawings and collages, dozens of fonts for each issue, skewed texts and photographs; everything was put together in a unique design that evolved into a new style. The specific attention to photography meant images were often shown across double spreads. Many participating artists became part of what was known in the mid-eighties as the Rotterdam School for (staged) Photography. The magazines adverts were designed according to the same unorthodox principles.
At its core were Gerard Hadders, Rick Vermeulen, Tom van den Haspel, Henk Elenga, Kees de Gruiter, and Willem Kars. Hard Werken was of great importance to Rotterdams cultural selfesteem. The many artists affiliated with the magazine gained national and international recognition. The magazine galvanised Rotterdams cultural momentum in the eighties and nineties, liberating the city from its image as a dull and culturally inferior harbor city.
Demonstrating the similarities between our two programmes, Rotterdam Cultural Histories is a collaboration between TENT and Witte de With exploring our shared roots in Rotterdam. Rotterdam Cultural Histories was initiated by Mariette Dölle (Artistic Director, TENT) and Defne Ayas (Director, Witte de With).