Alex Adriaansens, artist, curator and long-time director of the Rotterdam-based V2_Organisation, V2_ Lab for the Unstable Media, passed away yesterday, 30 December 2018, after several years of struggling with cancer. For over thirty-five years, Alex was active in the field of art and technology, as an initiator, an organiser, and as an advisor. His influence on many of us was enormous. He projected an amazing, passionate engagement with art and with the ways in which new technologies impact society. Perhaps even more importantly, he was one of the most gentle, friendly and optimistic people I can think of. This optimism, coupled with a clear vision and a strong sense of urgency for what needs to be done, fuelled his work and put the V2_ Organisation, and many of the projects that Alex was involved in, among the most influential initiatives in new media art since the 1980s. Now he leaves behind his wife, Angelica, and will be missed immensely by many others, as a friend and colleague, mentor, and as one of the guiding spirits of a whole international scene.
Alex Adriaansens was born in 1953 (on Valentine's Day) and studied at the art academy in Den Bosch from 1972 to 1976. In 1981, he, together with Joke Brouwer and a whole group of artists and activists, set up the artist collective "V2" which became, in 1986, the V2_Organisation, Institute for the Unstable Media. The organisation grew and moved to Rotterdam in 1994, developing a regular program of exhibition, performance, festival, workshop and publication activities, which it continues after Alex, due to his declining health, passed on the directorship to Michel van Dartel last summer.
In the course of more than three decades, many of the now hotly debated topics of digital culture – from interactivity and virtual reality, to social media and artificial intelligence – were pioneered in exhibitions, conferences and book publications by V2_, under the directorship of Alex Adriaansens and Joke Brouwer. Alex was not an egocentric leader, but a deeply social, collaborative animal who, rather than insisting on this or that, stimulated things to evolve and to happen. This turned all the projects he was involved in into permeable platforms in which he would collaborate to achieve the best possible results, piloting ideas and concepts which would often reach the mainstream media and art circles only years later. The 1987 "Manifesto for the Unstable Media" remains a crucial document of the critical avantgarde spirit that infused the early years, insisting on the necessity to engage the new electronic and digital technologies both aesthetically and politically.
For Alex, whatever the situation was, there was no other way than to go on, to imagine the next step, to push ahead. In this moment of loss and sadness, there is nothing better to do in his spirit. Pause, mourn, and press on.
(There will probably be a funerary service on 7 January 2019 at 11:00 hrs in Rotterdam.)