In the institute’s entrance hall, a diptych, composed of photographs from the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning, is on show at the invitation of Unlocked/Reconnected, inspired by the concept of home in the time of the pandemic. This collectively curated exhibition connects the most diverse ‘homes for the arts’ and marks the restart of public cultural life. Each institution has selected one work especially for this purpose.
Windows on the world
For months under lockdown, we have all faced the interiors of our home – probably more than we would like. Some of us retreated among the familiar furniture, books and belongings, others started a huge clear-out. Ideals of beauty and purity experienced a revival thanks to Covid-19; an echo of the hygiene movement from the early 20th century, which was widely followed thanks to modernism. Under the heading of the International Style, modern construction techniques and smooth materials were used for efficient, functional buildings, full of shiny chrome furniture. Moreover, that modern furniture was initially only reserved for an avant-garde. It really should have been put on the market but, thanks to the advertising, that rational functionality still has a sense of domesticity.
Lately we have skyped, teamed, zoomed, netflixed and virtual-partied more than ever before. The screens necessary for this are indispensable in our homes and interiors. How, actually, did they conquer this space? One theory is that they were smuggled in long ago in the form of windows. According to that theory, the interior has always focused on the opening, on the view outside. Then we added artificial windows to the sparse openings: first they were carpets, then paintings and later the first bulky television sets. Then finally computer screens. But a screen is not just a window. It is also a camera: someone else's camera, but focused on ourselves. The world in the screen is just as curious about us as we are about that world. That’s why, in our need for windows, our lives are now jammed with cameras, so that others can constantly keep an eye on our distorted, illuminated faces.
We stare at the screen assuming that we are looking at the outside world, but in fact the outside world is looking in and we are continuously observed.
The second part of this text is an adaptation of a quote from the Benno Premsela lecture 2013, The Interior in Wartime, by Matthew Stadler.
Home is a word that has a different meaning for everyone. It is the physical place close by, the space of your house, but also the homeland, the area you miss when you’re away. Home is the place where you share history and ideas, where there is a continuity of presence.
Thanks to the Corona crisis, the concept has acquired a special meaning. What is home in the time of the pandemic? Your home can be a place of love and security, but also a place of oppression and fear. And do our houses still feel like homes in a world that is globalised, digitised and constantly on the move? What are the notions of home and the poetic reflections that go with it?
The exhibition Unlocked/Reconnected aims to clarify different notions of the term ‘home’. It is a project that connects the most diverse ‘homes for the arts’: museums, institutes, galleries, artists’ initiatives and company collections. Unlocked/Reconnected spans a large number of locations, each of which is presenting one work of its own choice – whether a painting, a sculpture, a performance or a video installation. Each institution has installed the chosen work in its entrance area. The starting point is the idea of solidarity, the will to reflect together on what home means.