Nieuwe Instituut, together with the Embassy of the Netherlands in London, is commissioning the Dutch pavilion, for which spatial designer and editor Colin Keays has been appointed as curator. In Out of Joint, the pavilion’s theme, he responds to the sense of disorientation triggered by the many global crises of our time through the lens of the biennale’s theme of transnational interaction.
Spatial designer, editor and curator Colin Keays focuses on disorientation in his biennial contribution – the feeling of the ground shifting under our feet, or not knowing exactly where we are in a space. While such sensations can be caused by physical disturbances, the global crises and the adjustments they require in daily life bring about a similar state of unrest. Out of Joint is a response to this social disruption. With an ever-changing installation scattered around Somerset House, the biennale and its location become a kind of microcosm, where disorientation and reorientation co-exist.
The pavilion is the work of a team consisting of Fabulous Future, Studio Verter and Tim Teven. Drawing on their varied backgrounds and expertise, they have developed a series of objects with their own language and scenography. Together, the objects form the space of the Dutch pavilion, and they also function and figure in other pavilions. There they facilitate moments of gathering, discussion and reorientation and thus offer the opportunity for connection and collaboration. Jeanine van Berkel is responsible for the graphic design of the pavilion.
Read a more extensive curatorial overview below.
At a time of rising nationalism and growing geopolitical instability, international cooperation has become ever more crucial–but also, seemingly out of reach. Taking London Design Biennale as a site of global representation, the Dutch pavilion aims to manifest this process of geopolitical disorientation through an installation of site-specific forms waiting to be exported and distributed throughout Somerset House.
Acting as a supportive infrastructure that can facilitate different moments of discussion and gathering, a series of ambiguous fragments have been designed to be recontextualised and used by other biennale participants. By dissolving and redistributing the Dutch Pavilion, the expected routing of the biennale is reorientated towards new anchor points that can foster discussions around the common interests and overlapping sympathies necessary to overcoming our increasingly fragmented world.
Through a series of collaborative workshops, a design team consisting of Fabulous Future, Studio Verter, Tim Teven Studio and Jeanine van Berkel have developed a scenography within the pavilion designed to evoke an ambiguously bureaucratic environment. While entering such a space in the real world can be disorientating in its own right, it is not entirely out of place here: before becoming a grand civic landmark, Somerset House was a fairly mundane collection of administrative spaces. From the offices of Inland Revenue to the administrative headquarters of the Royal Navy serving British imperialism, the building stands as testament to both the banality and violence of bureaucracy.
Taking this layered history as a starting point for new collaborations and ideas, the space occupied by the Dutch Pavilion now facilitates the logistical process for borrowing its component fragments. From a central desk, other pavilions can fill out the paperwork required to borrow the items for their own use.
Cover image: Adam Slama