Het Nieuwe Instituut has invited the internationally operating visual artists Santiago Borja, Eva Rothschild and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster to make successive works for Sonneveld House in 2016.
Santiago Borja will first create an observatory on the roof of the museum house. A Mental Image – Blavatsky Observatory is based on Borja’s research into the influence of Western esotericism on the principles of Dutch Functionalism. The observatory is devoted to Helena Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, and will provide a place of contemplation for visitors to Sonneveld House from 13 February to 22 May 2016.
“A Mental Image – Blavatsky Observatory”
Contemporary art by Santiago Borja
13 February to 22 May 2016
Jongkindstraat 12, 3015
CG Rotterdam, The Netherlands
The connection that Borja makes between theosophy and architecture derives from the background of Sonneveld House. Artists working in an abstract manner in the first half of the 20th century, among them Mondrian and Kandinsky, drew inspiration from the writings of esoteric thinkers.
Less is known about the influence of these ideas on the architecture of that time. Brinkman and Van der Vlugt, the architects of Sonneveld House, came into contact with theosophy through Kees van der Leeuw, co-director of the Van Nelle Factory. He was an active member of the theosophical society and invited Brinkman and Van der Vlugt to design, among other things, a meeting centre for the society in Amsterdam.
Artist and architect Santiago Borja (1970, Mexico) works at the intersection of art, architecture and anthropology. He recently made work for the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Mies van der Rohe pavilion in Barcelona, and the VDL Research House in Los Angeles.
He also placed a silo-shaped pavilion constructed of thatch using Mayan craft techniques beside Villa Savoye, the iconic house by Le Corbusier. The intervention by Borja is part of a series compiled by Belgian guest curator Erich Weiss, who has curated various exhibitions internationally.
Sonneveld House is one of the best-preserved houses built in the Nieuwe Bouwen style. It was designed in the early 1930s by architecture firm Brinkman and Van der Vlugt, known for the Van Nelle Factory, and is located next to Het Nieuwe Instituut on Museumpark in Rotterdam.
From time to time Het Nieuwe Instituut invites an artist, designer or architect to make a site specific installation. Designer Richard Hutten and interior and landscape architect Petra Blaisse previously made work for Sonneveld House. The confrontation with contemporary art and design sets the carefully restored monument in a contemporary context.