In conversation with Guus Beumer

On institutes ● Dutch landscape ● and time traveling ●  [...]

Anah: We would like to start with some words of one of our previous magazines: We want to look at our own world and the environment of others from our own perspective. It is a declaration of love for places and situations, which at a first glance are not attractive, but maybe become attractive at a second glance. We understand it as an invitation, to have a curious look into the world, to make new discoveries and to give way to one’s dreams without closing the eyes to sometimes difficult realities. We read in an article that you are the Dutch king of culture, so we are curious to know your view on the contemporary world, explaining your background in the fashion and art world and your idea of combining all these interests? Guus Beumer: Your own starting point is almost an agenda to put an emphasis on curiosity. And I think that it is also a kind of analogy between what I am trying to do with this institute and what you are trying to do with your platform – to put the emphasis on curiosity. This institute has become part of the cabinet policy on the creative industries and if you think of the creative industry purely as the economic perspective on culture, then this institute is much more related to a notion of agenda than to a notion of curiosity. The idea of the creative industry gives us the possibility to transcend the disciplinary idea. But it means that I need to be curious and this institute needs to be curious and at the same time we need to be reflective. We cannot be a pure promotional institute, because promotion is about knowing what you want and trying to send it out. This institute needs to be much more inquisitive. So one of the things we need to do in order to take our assignments seriously is to be curious and to put research at the centre of all our activities. I think there is a beautiful analogy between what you want and what we try to do. The only thing is of course that we have to do it in an institutional context. And that has both strengths and weaknesses. One of the weaknesses of an institute is the fact that it is an institute and people don´t believe in institutes anymore. It is a 19th century idea of representation. But the idea of an institute could become interesting again, because for some odd reason in a world that is thoroughly economized, where the market reality is the only reality, maybe the institute is a kind of free space with its own idea of time, its own idea of continuity and maybe we can make this idea productive again. This is how we started with all the paraphernalia of an institute, namely an archive, exhibition spaces, staff and money. And we try to see the notion of the creative industries as a much older ideology, maybe the one of progress which is of course something which we have been embracing for the last 150 years and in which you always see a beautiful, urgent and fundamental struggle between the market and the state or between the consumer and the civilian. If you look at the program, if you look at the research and if you look at the subjects we try to address, in the end it is fundamentally about this vast arena of conflict. When you operate on an institutional level, you are also dealing with the community of at least 150 people and you need to be sensitive to the fact that the psychology of the institute is a psychology of a community and not the psychology of one person. And it has its own idea of tempo, of stanza and of time. An institute has a different physique and I had to learn to become part of that physique. In other words, more than just being the head, I had to be in the veins of the body and I think I am now slowly realizing it and I am becoming a part of it. In the new configuration of the cultural infrastructure in the Netherlands, this institute has a very dominant position. It is simply the biggest and it is also unique in its new assignment. But the interesting thing is, that the new is always approached with reference to the old. This institute party, especially for architecture, was, you could say, the rhetorical machine and part of the promotional quality of the Dutch architecture in the 90s. The new institute has to also represent this idea, but it is no longer fundamentally about promotion of a certain ideology. It is more about reflecting the variety of ideologies which is typical for a fragmented world. We should not forget that the economic situation for architects in the Netherlands is bad. About 80 percent of Dutch architects are unemployed, because architecture in the Netherlands was fundamentally linked to the building industry for the last ten years. And now architects try to reinvent another domain through which they can articulate their position. But they don´t know yet which one.. All these i [...]


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Topodiom Pavilion

This is not

A pavilion ● this is a transistor ● a mind machine [...]

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In conversation with Elfie Semotan


Anah: In our work, we focus on the contemporary landscape which is shaped by buildings, infrastructure, waterways and transport systems such as train lines, motorways and power lines. The intervention of humans in the environment is irreversible. So in the 21st century, do we need to modify our image of the landscape and our attitude to it compared for example to the romantic landscape images of the past? Elfie [...]

I do not wish

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