February 8, 2016 - Het Nieuwe Instituut - Santiago Borja: A Mental Image - Blavatsky Observatory
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February 8, 2016

Het Nieuwe Instituut

Het Nieuwe Instituut, BIHS Archive, date unknown. Adapted by Santiago Borja.

Santiago Borja
A Mental Image - Blavatsky Observatory
February 13–May 22, 2016

Opening: February 12, 7–11pm

Sonneveld House
Jongkindstraat 12
Rotterdam
The Netherlands

www.sonneveldhouse.com
Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Santiago Borja
A Mental Image - Blavatsky Observatory
February 13–May 22, 2016

Opening: February 12, 7–11pm

Sonneveld House
Jongkindstraat 12
Rotterdam
The Netherlands

www.sonneveldhouse.com
Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

At the invitation of Het Nieuwe Instituut, Mexican artist and architect Santiago Borja has created an observatory on the rooftop of Sonneveld 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, built with traditional roof thatching, is devoted to Helena Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical Society, and will provide a place of contemplation for visitors to Sonneveld House from February 13 to May 22, 2016.
 
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 Neutra-VDL Research House in Los Angeles. He has also placed a double-palapa shaped pavilion, made of palm leaves using traditional Mayan craft techniques, beside the iconic Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier. The intervention by Borja is part of a series compiled by Belgian curator Erich Weiss, who has curated various exhibitions internationally. After Borja, the artists Eva Rothschild and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster will each make a work that highlights an unexpected dimension of the museum house during 2016.

Sonneveld House
Sonneveld House is one of the best-preserved houses built in the Dutch Functionalist (Nieuwe Bouwen) style. The villa was designed in 1933 by architecture firm Brinkman and Van der Vlugt for Albertus Sonneveld, a director of the Van Nelle Factory, and is located next to Het Nieuwe Instituut on Museumpark in Rotterdam. The architects designed a total concept in which architecture, interior and furnishings are perfectly coordinated and reinforce one another. Het Nieuwe Instituut regularly invites an artist, designer or architect to make a site-specific installation for Sonneveld House. The confrontation with contemporary art and design sets the carefully restored monument in a contemporary context.

Het Nieuwe Instituut
architecture, design, e-culture

The contemporary era is characterised by radical technological, economic, cultural and social shifts. Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam aims to illuminate and map a rapidly changing world while at the same time fostering discussion of topics related to the vast field of design. All the institute’s activities are grounded in the principles of design and innovation—two concepts bound up with changing value systems and conflict. Sonneveld House is owned by Stichting Volkskracht Historische Monumenten, Rotterdam, and managed by Het Nieuwe Instituut.

A Mental Image—Blavatsky Observatory by Santiago Borja has been made possible by a generous contribution from the Mondriaan Fund.

 

The opening is part of the programme of Art Rotterdam Week. Entry is free, please register here.

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