Young Curator Anne-Jet de Nas about her program 'Infrared'

Robin van Dijk
April 11, 2024

Every year, the NDSM-werf Foundation invites a novice curator to intervene in the public space of the NDSM under the name “Young Curator”.

A pop-up exhibition, spatial installation or a performance; the interpretation is open. The idea is to open up and make working in public spaces, outside a white cube setting, more accessible. This year is Anne-Jet de Nas invited as Young Curator. On Thursday, September 28, 2023, she will program a performance with Henk Schut's work IN TUNE, a bronze tuning fork in the water of the Y-slope at NDSM that addresses the balance between people and the environment. Time to get to know this young Amsterdam curator better and hear all about the program she wants to show at NDSM.

Anne-Jet, can you tell us about yourself and your background?

I've been fascinated by art, fashion and design all my life. As a creator and as an observer. That's why I graduated from ArtEZ (a Dutch University of the Arts, ed.) and took a Master's degree in Art History. To learn how to use my creativity more broadly and commercially, I worked as a creative at an advertising agency. With these experiences, I learned to speak the language of the artist, art and the wider public. And I call myself a creative translator. Someone who connects and builds bridges. Someone who listens, watches, thinks and translates. Someone who brings ideas to life.

Nowadays, you work, among other things, as an independent curator, for example, you have the exhibition this summer About.Life. co-curated at Sexyland World. Which artists or works inspire you?

Yes, that's right. In collaboration with artist, curator and collector Appie Bood, an (un) retrospective exhibition has been made of his art and collections. The most important point of this was that we completely let go of time and chronology in order to arrive at new insights and installations. Along with Sexyland World we turned these ideas into a physical exhibition.

Apart from the fact that working with Appie Bood (and his wife Agata Zwierzyñska, also a good artist!) inspiring me, I also recently developed a fascination for the American painter and musician Issy Wood. Her work evokes a melancholic, powerful feeling in me. She paints everyday objects in a tangible yet anonymous way. Because she often paints with oil paint on velvet fabric, her work becomes almost fetishistic. I find it fascinating how she attracts but also repels with her work.

I am very curious about the future of NDSM, and about the future of sanctuaries like this in the city

You will soon be curating an intervention at NDSM with Henk Schut's work IN TUNE. How do you know NDSM as a terrain, what is your association with the place?

Hmm, a tough question! My association with NDSM varies. For me, the NDSM symbolises creativity, freedom and autonomy on the one hand. The history of NDSM as a sanctuary shows that you can make big changes with art and literally take up space to give art a voice. But on the other hand, for me, this place also stands for urban LED culture regeneration, or gentrification through art. In a way, art and artists at the NDSM are also an instrument for (cultural) policy and gentrification in this urban district.

Fortunately, the NDSM-werf Foundation is carefully considering the impact that gentrification has on the original function of this site. It is important that a place like NDSM continues to strive to be a place to thrive as a person and an artist, and not to become a particular urban experience. I am very curious about the future of NDSM, and about the future of free spaces in the city. Where there used to be room to claim a free spot, this is more difficult today. I therefore hope that the city takes care of this place.

Your intervention focuses on the work of Henk Schut, an installation of a tuning fork in the dock near the Y slope. What was your first impression of the work when you saw and heard it for the first time?

Yes, the big iron tuning fork in the dock. I really like the installation to blend in with the environment, as if it has always been there. Coincidentally, the sound of IN TUNE sounded right away the first time I was there. A low frequency spread across the Y slope, which also subsided. To be honest, I felt a bit awkward for a moment. What exactly should I feel? I became aware of myself for a moment. Henk's work is about finding a new balance between people and the environment. And it took a while for the sound to work on me, but I later realized that experiencing this conscious awkward feeling might be the goal.

The city seems to be overcrowded in many ways, and IN TUNE calls on us to think about this.

Can you take us into your creative process; how did you end up with an idea?

After my first impression, I started to delve into Henk Schut's work. What does he want to achieve with the work? I particularly noticed two aspects here; firstly, the appeal to people's ability to hear and listen through sound. Secondly, with this installation, he asks questions about the value of emptiness, both in the city, at the NDSM shipyard, and in ourselves. This value of emptiness also inherently reveals the problems of our city. The city seems to be overcrowded in many ways, and IN TUNE calls on us to think about this. These insights were the starting point of my own creative process.

Because the city, the immediate surroundings and the people in the city are at the center of Henk's work and are connected by a sound, I thought it would be nice to follow this up by having a voice respond to this sound. A voice that can expand and question the underlying ideas of the work.

It's the first time you're curating a performance in the public space, what makes that context different from what you're used to?

I've only just started my own business and this is indeed the first time I'm curating a performance in the public space. What makes this different, for example, from the exhibition at Sexyland World that ran over several weeks, is that I now have to think about how to create a powerful story and a lasting impression within a much shorter period of time.

What are you looking forward to the most?

I think I would formulate it as 'the moment of the transfer'; the moment N TUNE creates a new work of art, Ray's spoken word performance. I'm looking forward to seeing Ray's words and how they resonate with me and the audience in their own way. Just like Henk's sound does it in its own way.



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