Coinciding with this year’s 34th World Expo in Milan, the exhibition “What is the Netherlands,” curated by AMO, opens on 25 April at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. The exhibition is a wunderkammer of Dutch identities, revealing how the Netherlands conceived of and presented itself to the world at Expos since the early 20th century.
Featuring reconstructions of 14 Dutch pavilions, including collected and reconstructed fragments of exhibits, “What is the Netherlands” also explores the political construction of the pavilion through the collaboration of government officials, designers, and financial controllers. “What is the Netherlands,” led by AMO’s Stephan Petermann, showcases the diversity of the Dutch pavilions at the World Expo, including work by Karel Appel, Maarten Baas and Michel de Klerk. Simultaneously, the ongoing dialogue on technological progress and ‘Dutchness’ is explored, informed by research conducted by Marie-Thérèse van Thoor on Dutch pavilions at expos between 1910 and 1958.
What is the Netherlands
Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25, Rotterdam
26/04 – 23/08
Tuesday — Saturday
10.00 — 17.00
Sundays and national holidays
11.00 — 17.00
In the exhibition What is the Netherlands curator Stephan Petermann (AMO, the research department of design bureau OMA) outlines a portrait of 14 Dutch contributions to the World Expo since 1910. AMO transforms the 14 radically different pavilions into a series 1:1 models, realised on the same scale, which for the first time creates an overview and offers possibilities for new analysis. The dedication and pride with which the Netherlands puts itself in the spotlight each time is striking. The exhibition features highlights from the presentations within the pavilions, including a mural by Karel Appel and a series of chairs from the pavilions, revealing striking developments in Dutch design: from Michel de Klerk to Maarten Baas.
Capitalism and lyricism
The German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk has described the World Expo as a place where two extremes meet: capitalism and lyricism. In a specific coalition, politicians, businesses and designers develop pavilions and presentations that give an image of a country. This offers a reflection of the current situation of a country, but also gives expression to the ambitions for a future stadium of innovation. What is the Netherlands presents over a century of dialogue between modernity and nationality, economy and culture, business interests and speculation about the future. Although the exhibition only focuses on one country, the differences are overwhelming. Sometimes the entries were profound and exotic, sometimes modest and humble, experimental or downright funny – but always under the heading ‘Dutch’. For an important part, the exhibition What is the Netherlands is based on a research by Marie-Thérèse van Thoor on the Dutch entries to the World Expo between 1910 and 1958.
Since its inception a variety of differing ambitions have come together at the immensely popular World Expo. What prevails over all differences, however, is a strong faith in progress. In the most spectacular manner, the World Expo’s – which have brought us iconic buildings such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Atomium in Brussels – presented a vision of a future where technological innovation is able to bring the unattainable closer. The ability of designers to capture the unseen forms an important incentive for Het Nieuwe Instituut to develop a comprehensive programme on the theme of the World Expo, which also looks the future of the World Expo itself.
News source: Het Nieuwe Instituut