Atelier van Lieshout, Zonder Titel (Reception desk, 1994) and Ontkieming (Germination, 2001)
As the good, the bad and the ugly, artistic cowboy Joep van Lieshout can flout all laws of the Dutch society.
In 1995, artist Joep van Lieshout started operating under the name Atelier Van Lieshout (AVL). This Atelier took shape in the form of a temporary self-sufficient, voluntary place of exile, a village that AVL named AVL-Ville and described as a pseudo-autarkic free haven. On 28 April 2001, AVL-Ville officially saw the light of day in the Rotterdam harbour area, complete with its own flag, transport, money and constitution.
AVL wants to cross the borders between art, commerce, design and architecture. The “AVL idea” is that all art objects at the same time can be utensils as well. Van Lieshout runs a successful “furniture company”, designed pieces of jewellery that can also serve as weapons, established a completely functioning farm “The Pioneers’ set”, published a guide book and designed spaces, machines and installations to slaughter pigs, founded the AVL Academy for artists and even knows his way as an (illegal) alcohol distiller.
Standardising takes centre stage in the furniture of AVL. Wooden furniture objects are covered with a layer of polyester in standard colours, suited for unlimited production. The furniture pieces fit into one another and can be combined. Objects can be ordered to measure: the atelier provided, for instance, the apple green sanitary fittings of Utrecht’s Centraal Museum, the soap-coloured sinks and toilet bowls of the Lille congress centre, the ochre yellow service trolleys for the New York Museum of Modern Art, the ten-metre wide, bright orange bar for the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, an office unit and kitchen for gallery owner Fons Welters and various pieces of furniture for Museum De Paviljoens.
One big artwork
As the good, the bad and the ugly, artistic cowboy Joep van Lieshout can flout all laws of the Dutch society. It turns out that idealism can be linked to the reality that surrounds it in an extremely handy way. The unconventional one acting as a clever businessman. This will never lead to a complete free haven, which isn’t the ambition of the “pseudo autarky” anyway. AVL is a continuous artistic process. It is one big artwork that is not tied to a utopian dream but to a heterotopy, or in his own words “a place that is different”.
 Press release AVL-Ville on the occasion of the opening on 28 April 2001
Joep van Lieshout, Reception Desk
Joep van Lieshout, 1963, Ravenstein
Atelier Van Lieshout, AVL-Ville
circa 1995, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Reception desk, 1994
270 x 220 x 87 cm