Home Magazine Culture360 at the Het HEM in Amsterdam

During summer time there are few cities that cannot miss on the typical Europe trip. One of them is Amsterdam, that every year call thousand of visitors thanks to its large artistic heritage and entertainment offer. At this very time, not really far from the city centre has been opened the Het HEM art institute.

This new beautiful art spaces born in a former ammunitions factory distributed over an area of 10,000m2. The goal of het HEM its to combines the presentation of highly relevant visual art with a strong programming in music, performance and dance, the organisation of socially critical public programmes and participatory, educational activities. For this opening period, the institute is hosting seasonal ‘Chapters’ developed in collaboration with a guest curator, and the first on-site commission. But, let's proceed by grades... 

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Quentley Barbara, Hesus, 2019, Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk


As we already said Het HEM strives to bring art closer to different communities and to be a sounding board for society. In this sense, every chapter aims to host guest curator that not necessarily have a strong connection with the visual arts, but who, because of their personal story, professional expertise or exceptional experience, bring a special perspective on the time in which we live. As the Het HEM's Director, Kim Tuin, stated:  “We want our audience to feel at home, to be inspired and to open their minds to new experiences, intuitions and creative ideas. Using art to raise important questions concerning contemporary society, we hope to give people a more active and inclusive understanding of our world.”


Ebony G. Patterson, …Three Kings Weep…, 2016–2018, Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk


In the specific case of this Chapter 1NE, Het HEM shares the story of Edson Sabajo and Guillaume Schmidt, a creative entrepreneurial duo best known for their successful streetwear and lifestyle brand, Patta. Deeply rooted in Hip Hop Culture, Sabajo and Schmidt are considered cultural vanguards. Whilst constantly in contact with their artistic and musical environment, they represent a new generation of ‘homo universalis’: multitalented makers led, not by convention, but by forging their own creative paths. Looking to the future, for the Chapter 2, that will be held from September 21 to December 1 2019, Het HEM will be changed into interdisciplinary and experimental research centre by the American/ Chilean producer and composer Nicolás Jaar


Dana Lixenberg, Christopher Wallace (Biggie), 1996, 2018, Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk


RAAAF, Still Life, 2019 (4 cast brass plates measuring 5.3 x 3.3 metres; steel profiles, trolleys), Jan Kempenaers


While, for it's first permanent commission Het HEM has chosen RAAAF (Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances) a studio funded by Prix de Rome laureate Ronald Rietveld and Socrates Professor in Philosophy Erik Rietveld that operate at the crossroads of visual art, architecture and philosophy. Named ‘Still Life’ this artwork consists of four large-scale, cast brass plates which, suspended from over- headrails, move slowly between Het HEM’s ground floor columns. The four, enormous brass plates move constantly through space following an unpredictable rhythm. Their movements open and close the perspectives of the building, forcing viewers to consciously re- relate themselves to their surroundings.

“RAAAF has a unique way of shaping the experience of heritage sites through large-scale architectural interventions. ‘Still Life’ is a celebration of light, space and openness. At the same time, it’s movement and material bring the contested history of Het HEM into the forefront of our imagination.”

As evidenced by the director, this work it's perfectly in dialogue with the historical traces of the Het HEM’s and its previous designation as a munitions factory. Indeed, the building was the production site for millions of bullets with brass casings, which were then supplied to NATO troops worldwide. ‘Still Life’ questions this site of historically burdened heritage, and connects past, present and future. The 5.5-metre-high cast brass plates (the largest in Europe) move slowly away but inevitably return. They serve as a visual clue to the history of Het HEM and highlight the building’s transformation to its role today as a house of contemporary art, culture and unity.

Cover images: Gabriel Lester, Neck of the Woods, 2019 (Boxing Clinic), Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk


Stay Tuned to Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.