Young Curator Anne-Jet de Nas over haar programma ‘Infrarood’

Under the name ‘Young Curator’, Stichting NDSM-werf invites a novice curator every year to intervene in the public space of the NDSM. A pop-up exhibition, spatial installation or a performance; the interpretation is open. The idea is to open up works in public space and make them more accessible. This year Anne-Jet de Nas has been invited as Young Curator. On Thursday, September 28, she will program a performance accompanying the work IN TUNE by Henk Schut, 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 everything about the program she wants to show at NDSM.

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

I have had a fascination with art, fashion and design all my life. As a maker and as an observer. That is why I graduated from ArtEZ (a Dutch University of the Arts, ed.) and completed a Masters in Art History. To learn to apply my creativity more broadly and commercially, I worked as a creative at an advertising agency. With these experiences I have learned to speak the language of the artist, the art and the larger audience. 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 as an independent curator, for example this summer you have the exhibition Over.Leven. co-curated in Sexyland World. Which artists or works inspire you?

Yes that’s right. In collaboration with artist, curator and collector Appie Bood, a (dis)overview exhibition has been created of his art and collections. The most important point was that we completely let go of time and chronology in order to arrive at new insights and installations. Together with Sexyland World we have converted these ideas into a physical exhibition.

Besides the fact that working with Appie Bood (and his wife Agata Zwierzyñska, also a good artist!) inspires me, I have 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 free spaces 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 an area, what is your association with the place?

Hmm, a difficult question! My association with NDSM is varied. For me, the NDSM symbolizes creativity, freedom and autonomy on the one hand. The history of NDSM as a sanctuary shows that you can bring about major changes with art and literally take up space to give art a voice. But on the other hand, for me this place also represents urban-led-culture-regeneration, or gentrification through art. Art and artists at the NDSM are in a sense also an instrument for (cultural) policy and gentrification in this urban district.

Fortunately, the NDSM Wharf Foundation has carefully considered 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 in which to thrive as a person and as an artist, and not to become a specific urban experience. I am very curious about the future of NDSM, and about the future of free zones in the city. Where there used to be room to claim a sanctuary, this is more difficult today. I therefore hope that the city will be careful with this place.

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

Yes, the big iron tuning fork in the dock. I think the installation blends in very nicely with the environment, as if it has always been there. Coincidentally, IN TUNE sounded right away the first time I was there. A low frequency stretched across the Y slope, which also faded away. To be honest, I felt a little awkward for a moment. What exactly should I feel? I became aware of myself for a moment. Henk’s work is about the search for a new balance between people and the environment. And it took a while for the sound to affect 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 us to think about this

Can you take us through your creative process; how did you finally come up with an idea?

After my first impression, I started to delve deeper into the work of Henk Schut. What does he want to achieve with the work? Two aspects struck me above all; firstly, the appeal to people’s hearing and listening abilities through sound. Secondly, with this installation he asks questions about the value of emptiness, both in the city, on 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 us to think about this. These insights formed the starting point of my own creative process.

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

You have invited spoken word performer and artist Ray Fuego to the program. Why did you want to involve him?

I knew almost immediately that the voice I wanted to respond to the sound of IN TUNE had to be artist Ray Fuego. This is because he released a single this summer called INFRAROOD//3:30AM. In this song, infrared represents the feeling that the city of Amsterdam can leave on you as a resident. Infrared is not perceptible, but it can be felt. In this context, where infrared is used as a metaphor for the feeling of the city, I found a similarity with the work IN TUNE. Both works are about the complex relationship between the city and its residents. I asked Ray if he would like to further develop his song in the form of spoken word for this program. What makes it fascinating is that two artists from different generations and backgrounds, each with their own motivation to explore the city-human relationship, come together during this evening.

What makes it fascinating is that two artists from different generations and backgrounds, each with their own motivation to explore the city-human relationship, come together during this evening

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

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

What are you most looking forward to?

I think I would formulate it as ‘the moment of transfer’; the moment that a new work of art is created from N TUNE, Ray’s spoken word performance. I look forward to words from Ray and how they resonate with me and the audience in their own way. Just like Henk’s sound does in its own way.

Young Curator NDSM will take place on Thursday, September 28, 7:15 PM at the Y-slope. The program is part of NDSM Get Lost, the monthly culture program at NDSM in which various locations open their doors.

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