In Sonneveld House, Gijs Bakker and K. Schippers present combinations of jewellery and poetry which they have selected especially for the occasion from their extensive oeuvres. The result is a setting in which visitors can make new connections and entertain alternative interpretations.
How many boxes did I see before I
thought of a box,
of a lid, its contents,
How many wardrobes before I
opened a door, grabbed a
shoe, pressed the fabric of a
jacket against my cheeks,
To how many did I have to
count to find a word,
how many did I have to see before
one wardrobe was subsumed
How often before many becomes few?
(translated by Andrew May)
The starting point of the Sonneveld House exhibition Basics by Gijs Bakker and K. Schippers is the difference between observing a piece of jewellery and a poem. As an observer looking at an item of jewellery, you soon adopt a loaded way of seeing: Would you want to wear it? What is it worth? With a poem, you often see the letters on paper first as a whole, passing a judgment after reading it. What jewellery and poetry have in common is the ability to convey a message in a compact form.
By capturing his own perceptions in words, K. Schippers turns every reader into a ‘viewer’, able to share in his discoveries about reality no matter where they are. A villa like Sonneveld House is a place where people have lived. Now that it has become a museum house, all that vibrancy is, as it were, ‘solidified activity’. In this special context, the alternation of looking and reading becomes an open question to the visitor, asking for fresh connections and insights – new ‘basics’.
The different themes and concepts that play a role in the exhibition are reloaded by the circumstances of the moment, such as observation from a distance and up close, and the traces that (social) activities seem to leave in our experience of spaces and objects.
Gijs Bakker (born Amersfoort, 1942) trained as a jewellery designer and industrial designer at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and the Konstfack Skolen in Stockholm, Sweden. His work includes not only jewellery, but also home accessories, household appliances and furniture. The way he perceives the world is the starting point for all his designs. So the bracelet Plastic Soup is the result of a realisation of the impact of plastic straws on the environment. Bakker designed a bracelet made from straws, covered with gold. Another example of this is Black to White, a necklace with the faces of Bakker’s personal heroes, people of all skin colours. With this piece, he aims to draw attention to persistent racism and xenophobia.
K. Schippers (the pen name of Gerard Stigter) has been committed to making the ordinary extraordinary since the late 1950s. He was inspired by the Dada movement, including artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Kurt Schwitters. In 1958, he founded the magazine Barbarber with J. Bernlef and G. Brands, which marked a shift from the expressive poetry of the Vijftigers to a focus on everyday reality. Like Gijs Bakker, K. Schippers examines the process of observation and the reporting of it.
Sonneveld House - Interventions
In 2016, Het Nieuwe Instituut invited three internationally renowned artists to create a work in Sonneveld House. Santiago Borja installed an observatory on the roof. Eva Rothschild placed monumental sculptures, which can be seen as an alternative form of architecture, in various places throughout the house. The French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster made an audio work for the house. The series of interventions was curated by Erich Weiss.
In 2013 and 2015 respectively, the Dutch designers Richard Hutten and Petra Blaisse were invited to respond to Sonneveld House’s architecture and interiors.