08.10.2018 | Words by: Mathis Neuhaus
Photo by: Karolina Halatek
Once again, Het Weekend during Amsterdam Dance Event from the 19th until the 22nd of October in De School will last 62 hours, and once again, the opportunity arises to present art that fits the occasion. Last year, De School’s Children of the Light presented some of their own works, this year they take a step back: they invited six different artists with four different works to takeover De Cinema, Het Kunstlokaal and De Aula.
In conversation, Children of the Light explains some of the conceptual ideas that led to inviting Karolina Halatek, Matthijs Munnik, Nieke Koek and Gosse de Kort and Joris Strijbos and Nicky Assmann. They shine light on the process of staging an exhibition in the environment of a nightclub and what possibilities arise during 62 consecutive hours. Q: What have you been up to recently?
A: We have been preparing a dance performance with Alexander Whitley Dance Company in London that is going to be staged in York. De School regular Beatrice Dillon contributed the music for that. Two weeks ago, the last edition of Horst Festival happened where we have been responsible for the festival’s scenography. We called that project “In Praise of Shadows”, after the title of the essay of the Japanese writer Junichiro Tanizaki.Q: Have you been responsible for all the light at the festival?
A: Yes, all of the light was our responsibility and that was actually something we never really did before in a festival context. It was a good opportunity to see how such a holistic approach could work out. We were a bit nervous how the public would react to our minimal concept. We were only using classic light bulbs and nothing else, but it looked like they liked the fairytale vibe a lot.Q: Another place where you are responsible for all of the lights is De School. For the upcoming Het Weekend during ADE, you invited six different artists with four different works that are going to be shown all over the club. How did you approach the process of who to invite?
A: By now, we know what really works here in De School, since we tested out a lot of our own work here and have seen a lot of work from others. One of the reasons you go to a club is to get hypnotized or get in a trance, or whatever you want to call it. Music does that and in our opinion, in this context, the art should do that as well. The works we selected all have a hypnotizing quality in some way.Q: Was it a long research process to boil it down to the six invited artists?
A: We kept our scope quite broad and open. We knew a few of the artists before, but we also asked around a lot. Instead of asking all our friends, it was important for us to tell a good and coherent story. That resulted in some local people we know and love the work of, but also some people we do not know, yet, but feel a strong connection with. Q: How do you approach the process of where to place the respective works in the space itself, was it a close collaboration with the artists?
A: De Cinema, Het Kunstlokaal and De Aula will all be dedicated spaces for the light. Of course, we talked to the artists about which space would work best for each work, but we also have a strong opinion about it, since we spend so much time here. The work from Nieke Koek and Gosse de Kort will be the centrepiece at the heart of the building, you can see it from a far distance. It is sort of a dancing instrument with a heavy presence that will go well with the many people that are going to be surrounding it. Other works are more fragile and should not be in the direct routing. The work by Karolina Halatek, for example is a one-on-one work. The work by Joris Strijbos and Nicky Assmann is more cinematic, so it makes sense to have it in De Cinema. Matthijs Munnik’s piece is the subtlest that needs a quiet space, a bit detached from the bustle of the club. Q: What are the biggest challenges when thinking about presenting art in De School’s building?
A: During ADE, it is definitely the massive amount of people. There was, for example, the discussion, if a one-on-one work will be able to serve enough people during the weekend. But for us, scale was really important. From very close to far away and from being together to being alone: when you go out, usually you go with your friends, and you roam around in a very social environment. But you also can be really within yourself sometimes, introverted. For us it was important to also provide a more private experience.Q: And what about the timeframe of 62 hours?
A: Let's just say: some artworks will have different functions and serve different purposes over the course of the weekend. Q: I read an interview with Jeff Koons recently and he was asked if there is anything in his art to understand. I would like to forward this question to you: by working with light, is there anything to understand?
A: You do not have to understand anything about the subject itself. You also don’t have to understand anything about techno music to feel a connection to it. On a cosmic level, you feel connected. Vibration and movement can be understood by everyone. All the works that are going to be shown in De School play with perception, and make you realize how limited daily perception can be. When you go to a club, you broaden that concept and the works we have chosen will help you do that, too. Tickets for Het Weekend 19.10 – 22.10 are available online and at the door.