Studio Artist Het HEM

"Een woud van grijze zuilen door Gabriel Lester in het HEM. Het gaat hier niet alleen om het doel, maar ook om de weg ernaartoe. De installatie is een soort hindernisbaan of ontdekkingstocht." Beeld Eeftinck Schattenkerk (https://www.parool.nl/nieuws/het-hem-laat-zich-aan-de-wereld-zien~b3434d37/, n.d.)

Studio Artist Het HEM

For five months, I was studio artist at ‘Het HEM’ (May 1st till September 30th, 2020). A place for contemporary culture located at HEMbrugterrein in Zaandam. Originally, built as a bullet factory at the river het Noordzeekanaal. Het Hem: ‘Together with the visionaries of our time, we develop multidisciplinary art programs that shine a different light on the world around us. A playful and free approach to both creating and experiencing art is central.’

(https://hethem.nl/nl/Het-Hem/Mission, n.d.)

On the left wing of the building is an atelier complex for studio artists, with five ateliers and one communal space. During my time, Het HEM was for two months in lockdown due to Covid-19. Sometimes, I was working completely alone in the building, which was a fascinating experience. The walls still have the old factory paint and scratches, the oil smell of the machines, and an orchestra of cracking sweeping sounds can be heard - coming from the construct of the building in dialogue with the wind.

The building is like a canvas painted by the passing of time.

Remaking sculptures

Working as a craftsman in my studio space at Het HEM, I remade and expanded my sculpture collection of Deform, Deform Reflect, Deform Amoibe, Looming and Collective Loom. They are flexible sculptures in contact with the performing human body. Like ‘objects of use’ they disintegrate over time.

Exposition installations

I made structures from metal and hard plastics to let these flexible sculptures stand autonomously in space.

The forms are directing a movement and a presence in space, vibrant by colour, shape, placement and light – as it where a ‘solidified moment’ of the time-based performance.

The sculptures became expended into their full scope, standing throughout the whole building, using the different spaces of Het HEM. A special experience, photographed by Alina Fejzo.

Het HEM (https://hethem.nl/nl/Het-Hem/Mission, n.d.)

Durational performance

During the last period of my stay at Het HEM, I could remake my performance work Collective Loom. That came into being in 2018 as a 60-minute structured piece during Fringe Festival Amsterdam.

Now, in 2020, I remade Collective Loom into a three-hour durational performance. And as a trained improvisation, the performers could ‘truly experience’, seizing possibilities 'in the moment'.

We were inspired by the idea that everything happening is equally important; human is not above matter, and form with the space ‘one vibrating whole’.

Like in a gallery setting, the public was free to wander through the performance and decide their own place and time in the room. The work could be viewed from 360 degrees.

Realised with a piano soundscape improvised on the movement of the performers, and vice versa.

Nothing was set or pre-programmed to increase the sensation of ‘aliveness’.

The performers themselves handled the lights. Performed in ‘the dark room’ in het HEM, the shadow play was visible on the old factory floor, pillars and the walls - video registration.

High Tide exposition

The Collective Loom performance, installation and video work was part of the group exposition High Tide, with fellow artists Marilyn Sonneveld, Tom van Veen, and Sarah Donna.


Musician/ composer Mink Steekelenburg

Performers Anna Riley-Shepard, Fernanda Morales Gonzalez, Mayke van Veldhuizen, Rosanna ter Steege.

Videographer Veerle Boekenstijn

Photographer Alina Fejzo