PRINT April 2001


JUST HOW BIG CAN AN ARTWORK GET? Joep van Lieshout seems determined to find out. The thirty-seven-year-old Dutch artist has recently declared his sprawling studio compound at the Rotterdam harbor a free state. This month, Atelier van Lieshout (AVL) will become AVL-Ville, a civic artwork in progress—complete with housing, education, sewage treatment, and even a slaughterhouse. Since establishing AVL in 1995, van Lieshout has produced works on an ever-increasing scale: polygamy-friendly furniture (Modular Multi Women Bed, 1997), mobile homes for despotic campers (Autocrat, 1997), and shipping containers refurbished as laboratories for making firearms, bombs, medicine, and alcohol. AVL’s works combine the pursuit of pleasure with survival; creating an autonomous state was the next logical step.

Despite his desire for self-sufficiency, van Lieshout does not labor alone. He considers his thirty-odd

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