Michiel Huijben

If not, not
2017 & ongoing

In the summer of 2017, I bought a copy of 'The Chronicles of Bustos Domecq' by Borges & Bioy Casares in a second-hand bookstore in Rotterdam. That evening, on a train, I took the book from my bag to read it. When I opened it, it turned out to contain some small, handwritten letters.
These letters, written by a man named Jan to his ex-lover, contained, among personal details and stories, a number of descriptions of architectural designs (his own) that span the decades from the early nineteen-sixties to the late nineties. Though Jan was not an architect, he had worked on plans for buildings in Rotterdam. When I read these descriptions, I realized how much they speak of the social, cultural and political history of the Netherlands - and Rotterdam in particular.

'If not, not' is an ongoing project that involves researching the locations, events and discussions that sparked Jan's designs, the conditions under which the descriptions themselves were written, as well as visualizing the designs in physical models.

In a presentation that happened on the 25th and 26th of November 2017 in Het Wilde Weten, Rotterdam (to conclude my residency there), I introduced this project and the stories behind a few of these models.

All kinds of thanks go out to Jan Adriaans, Anke Huyben, Jan Huijben, Dámaso Randulfe, Priscila Fernandes, Ontwerpstudio Woudstra, Simon Kentgens, Rachel Carey, Julien Grossmann and Made by Mistake maquettebouw, who have all been super helpful during various stages of the process.

Made possible by Mondriaan Fonds.