Contained Attitudes, a group exhibition of four artists from four European countries, was organized in cooperation with the De Appel Foundation in Amsterdam and curated by its director, Saskia Bos. A video program, presented in conjunction with the exhibition and curated by Chris Dercon, a freelance curator based in Brussels and a member of De Appel's advisory board, occupied the gallery’s lower space.
Meuser, Alain Séchas, Jan van Oost, and Ton Zwerver comprised the main exhibition. Denouncing Neo-Expressionist painting, new geometric abstraction, and other such "constructions of a consumer oriented art market," Bos selected these artists not to demonstrate or identify a trend, but as she wryly explains, to provide a "welcome alternative to a market full of many colored objects."
All of the artists work in three dimensions, but with an austere, removed sensibility that may not have been immediately gratifying to New York viewers in the late 1980s. For example, by the time of the exhibition Ton Zwerver's sculptures formed out of rearranged furniture in friends' apartments were no longer extant, instead brought into the gallery space via photographs. Alternatively, Alain Séchas insisted on thinking of his three-dimensional works as "drawings," preferring a term that invokes diagrams or plans as much as artworks. Meuser, to whom Bos ascribes an affinity with German artists Blinky Palermo and Imi Knoebel, worked by juxtaposing readymade, monochrome objects culled from garbage dumps. Jan van Oost’s sculptures, freestanding doorways and walls, read as both discrete objects and fragments of industrial architecture. Their lack of specificity, as well as their highly finished, glossy surfaces, generate a menacing aura. As predecessors to the more detached sensibility exemplified by all four artists, Bos cites both the German artist Joseph Beuys and the Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers.
For the exhibition's video component, Chris Dercon included works by Alain Bourges, Koen Theys, Studio's Independent Theatre, and Graham Young. Eschewing medium-specificity, Dercon described this selection as a "collection of individual works by artists who happen to make video."