In line with its founding values of understanding culture as fluid and inquisitive, Het HEM presents Chapter 2WO: an investigation of sound as a means for resilience and political change. In a society where technological acceleration and algorithms often determine our choices, Chilean artist and composer Nicolás Jaar will reflect on the potential of music–as something both physical and intangible–to highlight the unseen, the overheard, the itinerate and the intricate.
Renowned for his layered and complex compositions, his musical versatility and interest in blending music with visual arts, Jaar is known as an artist who does not shrink from personal introspection or political commitment. At Het HEM, Jaar will be questioning whether music – which communicates at an intuitive and emotional level – can help us to better understand complex issues and thus inform the foundations for political change.
Chapter 2WO combines a variety of elements, spread throughout the building and in constant motion. Working together with the Shock Forest Group, a band of 12 cartographers, linguists, coders, sound makers, biologists, geneticists, graphic designers and engineers, Jaar will submit the site of Het HEM and its immediate surroundings to in-depth scientific and multi-disciplinary research, studying the terrain, excavating the man-made myths and clay histories that make up its foundation. This research aims to create a musical method or ‘instrument of resonance’ that – when played in a specific context – analyses and orders (or disrupts) local facts, communicated through sound, light and movement.
From September 19, sound and light installations inside the building will consider the non-representational and immaterial presence of sound, which remains a physical entity that inhabits our mind and body. Daily, from noon, Het HEM will open with Phase Transitions, a new sound environment by Nicolás Jaar, which will be experienced upon entering the building. Jaar’s installation Incomprehensible Sun will be located in the former 200-meter shooting range, underneath the building. This installation explores the experience of walking through a piece of music, with its rhythm and duration determined by the speed and direction in which the visitor walks.
Het HEM’s white cube is dedicated to one work that particularly resonates with the thought that has shaped this program: Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus from 1920, an icon of the 20th century partially due to the interpretation ascribed to it by its first owner, the cultural philosopher Walter Benjamin. While the work itself is only rarely on view and too fragile to travel, Jaar presents Angelus Exul, a film documenting his own journey to the Angelus Novus and reflecting on the way Klee’s piece continues to help us think about the times in which we live and the continuous storm of progress.
From October 17 onward, a joint installation by Vincent de Belleval and Nicolás Jaar, Retaining the Energy, but Losing the Image will concentrate on sound, which like light has a source and yet spreads all around us. As with music–where the listener tends to focus entirely on the source–this piece is an ever-changing landscape consisting of 10 rotating reflectors which capture and emit light and sound. This sound installation will be inaugurated with two exclusive concerts during Amsterdam Art Event on October 17 and 19, 2019.
Throughout Chapter 2WO there will be a public program of lectures, performances, live concerts, explorations and readings by Chilean artist and composer Nicolás Jaar, The Shock Forest Group and other guests. The program will include open research days with The Shock Forest group and will question (among other things) whether music and sound can help us to better understand what is going on in the world and emphasize–through experience and emotion–music’s potential to raise our political awareness.
September 19 to December 1, 2019
Nicolás Jaar & the Shock Forest Group
Warmperserij 1, 1505 RL Zaandam, Netherlands