Radio New Babylon
Named after the anti-capitalist visionary art project developed between 1959 and 1974 by the Dutch artist Constant, Radio New Babylon proposes a unique collection of site-specific audio pieces made by local and international artists.
The pieces can only be heard in and around the New Babylon building complex in Den Haag, The Netherlands by using the Echoes app on your phone, and headphones. Go to the Radio New Babylon website for more information!
The Future can be Humane
Constant (Constant Nieuwenhuijs, 1920–2005) was not only an artist but also one of the intellectual driving forces behind the Cobra movement (1948–1951). As such, he can be seen as one of the leading co-founders. He became an artist who always dared to explore new paths, did not shy away from challenging collaborations and was above all convinced of the important role that creativity and art play in our society.
Artist Antonis Pittas has selected the works of Constant to be shown in this exhibition. With this selection he wants to emphasise the image of Constant as an artist with a undaunted belief in a better world, in which collectivity, peace and creativity would prevail. The selection of around 40 paintings and works on paper ranges from the childlike works from the Cobra era – in which the bird regularly returns as a symbol of freedom – to works in which Constant refers to change and even revolution. In addition to his long-term project New Babylon, in which he visualised the society of the future, a number of works from the period after New Babylon are also shown. This is the first time that the Cobra Museum focuses on this later period in Constant’s oeuvre. The culmination of the late works is the oil painting Les expulsés that Constant painted in 1999 in reaction to the Kosovo War.
New work by contemporary artists
The museum has invited Antonio Jose Guzman and Antonis Pittas (both live and work in Amsterdam) to respond to Constant’s oeuvre and ideas. These internationally renowned artists have made new work especially for the occasion.
Ode to Constant – And Free Thinking
Most people know Constant as co-founder of Cobra and his visionary New Babylon. There were no limits to his artistic exploration and expression. From the beginning he also painted and kept looking at the world – eyes and mind wide open – as a painter. This presentation shows why the artists and founders of Museum Henriette Polak recognized and appreciated his art. His work was collected at an early stage and also later on. Their vision on art was — based on visible reality – above all open minded and without preconceptions. Also they share, in a very personal way, a humanistic view of life. Constant was one of them.
A thematic issue on Constant by literary magazine De Gids. For this special edition, 7 authors and poets and a photographer will be asked to make a contribution. They will use Constant’s archive as their starting point, diving into the paintings and drawings, designs, texts and musical instruments. They all suggest a vision, where thinking, drawing and painting, designing, reading and writing and living with family and friends and traveling and making music form a unity. The authors and poets who contribute to this issue are: Fiep van Bodegom, Christophe van Gerrewey, Frank Keizer, Bram Leven, Frank Keizer, Aafke Romeijn, Maria Barnas, Dirk van Weelden, Constant and photographer Johannes Schwartz.
In bookstores from December 9th 2021.
For Bridging Borders POST was inspired by the notion of a world without borders, which is central in the New Babylon project by Constant Nieuwenhuys (1920 – 2005). As a platform that is operating in a border-area, we would like to take this idea at heart and aim to break down the borders, in our case specifically between the Netherlands and Germany. Therefore POST invited for Bridging Borders a mixture of artists that are German based or based in Germany.
However, in Bridging Borders national borders are not the only ones who are being lifted. The selected artists and artworks are specifically selected on their dealing with the relations between the human and the machine. In New Babylon, besides the borderless world, Constant also sketches a future world in which humans are liberated from labour through automation. All selected artworks deal in one way or another with the (possible) impact of technology, automation or blending of the human and the machine. We invited art-historian Tessa Kalsbeek to write a contextualizing text on how Constant’s ideas relate to the presented artworks and the ideas they bring forward.
Afbraak van de architectuur
Demolition of the architecture
Arna Mačkić and Herman Hertzberger, prominent architects from different generations, observe an approaching disaster: the architect with a social purpose is dying out. How is it possible that we have arrived at a time in which there are no opportunities for architects who want to contribute to the public domain?
Novice architects do want to set up social projects, but as soon as they enter the field, the game of supply and demand kicks in. There is also a lack of stimulation in the training courses: young architects no longer learn about ideals and responsibilities. What can the current generation of architects, architectural schools and policymakers learn from the previous generation, who were given space to build and were encouraged to have a social vision?
In this program Arna Mačkić outlines the problem and shows the public what she believes should be the role of the architect and architecture in society on the basis of her own work. Herman Hertzberger, one of the Netherlands’ greatest architects, will talk to her: what are the lessons this heavyweight has for the current generation? Can we prevent the architect with a social vision from disappearing for good?
Speakers: architects Arna Mačkić and Herman Hertzberger
Program maker: Lola ‘t Hart
Moderator: Merlijn Geurts