The Crime Was Almost Perfect

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What makes crime stories continuously fascinating is the fact that the divisions between the criminal, the victims, and the audience are constantly blurred. We are all potential victims and (maybe, why not?) can become criminals.

While the exhibition–at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam–functioned more as a “space for experimentation,” this publication aims to cover not only detective fiction but also the subject-matter’s more theoretical, philosophical, and aesthetic aspects. Published after the closing of the exhibition, it should be considered as a continuation of the same process and as a resource in itself rather than simply a documentation or commentary.

As a literary approach to the theme we have specifically commissioned some works of fiction and have also decided to reprint three theoretical texts we found particularly relevant for this context. The essays were chosen, not necessarily to address the participating artists’ practices or artworks but rather to provide analysis of some of the issues that the exhibition aimed to raise. Another central aspect of this publication is the link between the installation views and the brief work descriptions of the various artistic propositions featured in the exhibition.

With both Tom Morton’s fiction story “The Thick End” and Astrid Trotzig’s threat letters, this publication aims to restage the premises of the exhibition by using the detective story genre in the medium of the book at its fullest. Fiction and theory merge and find equilibrium or balance in this publication with the inclusion of theoretical writings by Michael Zinganel’s “Crime does pay!: The Structure-Building Power of Crime for Urban Planning and Urban Experience,” and Alexandra Midal’s “The Designer as a Cheater,” alongside a reprint of the text “The Productivity of Crime” by Karl Marx.

This publication is occasioned by the group exhibition The Crime Was Almost Perfect (24 January – 27 April 2014) curated by Cristina Ricupero at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam.


—Year Published


Cristina Ricupero, Defne Ayas, Amira Gad

Tom Morton, Alexandra Midal, Cristina Ricupero, Astrid Trotzig, Michael Zinganel

Karl Marx, “Apologist Conception of the Productivity of all Professions”. Reprinted as “The Productivity of Crime,” Monthly Review, vol. 22, no. 7 (December 1970).

Joy Beecroft

Amira Gad, Cristina Ricupero, Maria-Louiza Ouranou

Aad Hoogendoorn

Graphic Design
Anna Haas

Printed & bound at:


Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (Rotterdam, the Netherlands) & Sternberg Press (Berlin, Germany)

All rights reserved. © the artists, authors and Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2014.

PAC – Milan

Published with the support of:
Pro Helvetia (Switzerland), Office for Contemporary Art – OCA (Norway), Institut Français (France)

Priv.-Doz. DDr. Christian Bachhiels (Hans Gross Kriminalmuseum), Sjarel Ex and Friso Lammertse (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen), Pr. Jeanne Gaakeer (Erasmus University, Rotterdam), Anne Millet, Alexandra Midal, Thomas Olbricht, Julia Rust (Me Collector Room, Berlin), Mr. A.J.M. de Swart (Sjöcrona Van Stigt Advocaten). And, last but not least, to International Film Festival Rotterdam’s Rutger Wolfson, Edwin Carels, Mirjam Klootwijk, Frank van der Horst for the film program More Than Meets The Eye (25 January 2014), and Kristin Metho (graphic designer).

The curator of the exhibition would like to especially thank Defne Ayas for her great support in the realization of this project, Amira Gad for her exceptional work on the making of this book, Paul van Gennip for his fantastic input on the exhibition and tour, Virginie Bobin for her active participation and preparation as well as Iines Råmark. She extends her thanks to ‘Belvedere, Vienna’, Kader Attia, Ami Barak, Jean-Luc Blanc, Ina Blom, Gabriel Lester, Fabian Marti, Jonathan Martin, Jean-Charles Massera, Alexandra Midal, Rupert Norfolk, Annemarie Reichen, Caroline Schneider, Bettina Steinbrugge and Michael Zinganel.