The Society of Arts, which was launched last year, has selected sixteen new members. They come from the world of music, design, dance, film, visual art, fashion, theatre, poetry and architecture.
The new members are:
Opera and stage director Pierre Audi (born in 1957) has played a significant role in the art world in the Netherlands, specifically in Amsterdam. As the artistic director of the Dutch National Opera, he has breathed new life into Dutch opera and brought it to international prominence. He has also built an international career as an opera director.
Born in Lebanon and raised in Beirut and Paris, Audi studied history at Oxford and in 1979 founded the Almeida Theatre in Islington, North London. In 1988, he became the artistic director of the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam. He established his reputation with a Monteverdi cycle and directed a highly acclaimed Der Ring des Nibelungen, seen in its entirety for the first time in the Netherlands. Audi has devoted himself to promoting more contemporary opera and has collaborated with such artists as Kounellis, Baselitz and Kapoor in his productions. From 2005 until last year, Audi was also the artistic director of the Holland Festival, the largest performing arts festival in the Netherlands, for which he assembled experimental and adventurous programmes bringing together all the artistic disciplines.
Pierre Audi has received numerous awards in the Netherlands and abroad. He was made a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1990 and was the first recipient of the Johannes Vermeer Award, the annual Dutch state prize for the arts established in 2009.
Jurgen Bey (born in 1965) can be regarded as one of the first conceptual designers of the Netherlands and is one of the generation that led Dutch Design to prominence in the 1990s. Under the Droog Design banner, he has become internationally renowned as a visionary designer. Bey and architect Rianne Makkink founded Studio Makkink & Bey in 2002. Their designs delight and astonish: their Tree Trunk Bench, which consists of three bronze chair backs that can be attached to a fallen tree trunk, and their Ear Chair, which creates a private workspace. By zooming in on a product, for example a lamp or piece of furniture, and zooming out again to the perspective of architecture or urban planning, he shows how these apparently separate domains influence and are intimately bound up with one another. Bey is an innovator who thinks about the essence and future of his discipline. He takes his ideas to the design community and to the general public, but also to his students at the Design Academy Eindhoven. In 2010, Bey became the director of the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam.
Graphic designer Irma Boom (born in 1960) is most famous for her book designs. She is one of the best book designers in the world, if not the best. The jubilee book that businessman and philanthropist Paul Fentener van Vlissingen commissioned her to design and assemble for his company SHV Holdings in 1996 has become a design icon, as has the miniature catalogue that she produced of her own work (Irma Boom: Biography in Books). But Irma Boom does much more than that: she creates house styles, logos (for example her recent design for the Rijksmuseum), and coins. Her clients include OMA/Rem Koolhaas, Chanel, Ferrari, the Prince Claus Fund, and artists. The University of Amsterdam (Special Collections) manages her living archive. Her work has been included in the collections of such leading institutions as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and Centre Pompidou in Paris. She has won many international honours for her book designs and has received the Gutenberg Prize and, in 2014, the Dutch state prize for the arts, the Johannes Vermeer Award. Since 1992, Irma Boom has been a Senior Critic at Yale University.
Michiel Borstlap (born in 1966) is a leading light among the younger generation of jazz musicians. He is well known as a virtuoso pianist and has shown himself to be a gifted composer. After studying at the conservatory in Hilversum, he founded the Michiel Borstlap Sextet but also continued to perform with other, often famous, musicians, both in the Netherlands and abroad. In recent years he has given more solo performances. Borstlap has written a soundtrack (for the film Tiramisu, for which he received a Dutch film industry award) – and was commissioned by the Emir of Qatar to compose the only opera in Arabic thus far, Avicenna. Borstlap has worked on unusual collaboration projects in the world of music and beyond, including with vocalist Gino Vanelli, the strings section of jazz and pop orchestra Metropool Orkest, Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi, and currently with modern dance company Scapino Ballet. He has issued about twenty CDs since his first in 1992.
Adriaan Geuze (born in 1960) is renowned worldwide for his work in urban planning and landscape architecture. He and his firm West8, which he founded shortly after graduating with a degree in landscape architecture in 1987, take a unique approach to spatial planning that unites architecture, public space and engineering. Geuze and West8 have produced striking designs for parks in New York, Miami, Hong Kong, Seoul, Madrid and London. In the Netherlands, he is renowned for Schouwburgplein Square and the main railway station in Rotterdam, Máxima Park in Utrecht, the Borneo-Sporenburg housing development in Amsterdam, and the Strijp S urban redevelopment project in Eindhoven. Geuze’s approach to landscape architecture has reinvigorated urban planning and once again made the two disciplines the focus of public debate. He and his firm have been selected for many projects and have received many awards. Adriaan Geuze is a professor of landscape architecture at Wageningen University and a Visiting Professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
Micha Hamel (born in 1970) is a composer, poet and conductor. His concert music has been performed by virtually all the important Dutch orchestras and ensembles. He has also composed music for dance and theatre, for example for the Dutch National Ballet and theatre company Het Nationale Toneel. In 2008, the Dutch Touring Opera took his tragic operetta Snow White on a hugely successful tour of the Netherlands. In June 2012, he was the ‘composer in focus’ at the Holland Festival – the largest performing arts festival in the Netherlands – for which he composed two evening-long works: a Requiem for our concept of civilisation and an interdisciplinary performance inspired by the George Hendrik Breitner painting The Red Kimono. Music theatre group Orkater is currently touring the Netherlands with his latest work, Een pure formaliteit. As a conductor, Micha Hamel is determined to challenge the boundaries of concert practice. He also participates regularly in debates and in think tanks focusing on developments in musical practice.
Micha Hamel is a professor of New Performance Practice at Codarts University of the Arts in Rotterdam, where he conducts research into the future of classical music. He has published four collections of original poetry, the latest of which received the Jan Campert Prize for poetry.
Iris van Herpen
Fashion designer Iris van Herpen (born in 1984) has changed her discipline beyond recognition. In her sculptural, futuristic work, she combines craftsmanship with innovation. She was the first to create clothes in 3D print, but she is also deeply interested in traditional craftwork.
After studying fashion at ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem, Van Herpen worked for Alexander McQueen and Claudy Jongstra. She launched her own label in 2007 and introduces two collections for women a year. Her approach is highly interdisciplinary and she develops her collections in close collaboration with architects, musicians, photographers and filmmakers, and choreographers. Her collections are based on ‘scientific’ themes. For MICRO (2012), she drew on images captured with an electron microscope and delved into the world of micro-organisms; for Radiation Invasion (2009) her subject was everyday electromagnetic radiation. Iris van Herpen became a member of the prestigious Chambre syndicale de la Haute Couture in 2011. Luminaries such as Björk, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Tilda Swinton wear her designs, and her works have been acquired by various museums.
Documentary filmmaker Heddy Honigmann (born in 1951) is famous far beyond the borders of the Netherlands. Her documentaries feature at film festivals the world over and there have been retrospective showings of her work in Paris, San Francisco and numerous other places. The child of Polish Jewish immigrants, Honigmann was born and raised in Peru, studied film in Rome, and moved to the Netherlands in 1978, where she has lived ever since. Her international background makes her an outstanding observer of the rituals and manners that are a recurring element in her films. Her documentaries convey a sense of love and melancholy, and she is masterly at inducing her characters to lay themselves bare.
Honigmann has won many awards for her work. She twice won a Dutch film industry award, once for Crazy (1999) and once for Forever (2006), and in 2013 had the rare honour of receiving the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam’s Living Legend Award. Honigmann shares her vast knowledge and experience in the master classes, lectures and workshops that she gives around the world.
Hans van Houwelingen
Hans van Houwelingen (born in 1957) is a visual artist who does not shy away from controversy. In his own words, he studies the relationship between art, ideology and politics, preferably by intervening in public spaces. He created a square in a working class neighbourhood of Utrecht whose paving replicates the design of a Persian carpet; he has removed monuments from their pedestals, swapping one for the other or placing them on new pedestals of gigantic proportions. Many of his designs are so controversial that they are never realised; these include his monument for the Olympic Winter Games in Turin, consisting of the blood samples of the 2500 participants, or his National Guest Workers Monument, meant as official acknowledgement of the role of guest workers in Rotterdam’s history. That is merely the consequence of his working methods, in which he seeks out the tension between politics and society and induces people to take a stand. But he also been enormously successful, for example with his Blauw Jan in Amsterdam’s Kleine Gartmanplantsoen, where for the past two decades life-sized bronze lizards have cheered up passers-by. Van Houwelingen studied at the Minerva Art Academy and the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten.
Conny Janssen (born in 1958) creates inventive, powerful and moving works of choreography. Each one is an unpredictable voyage of discovery for both her dancers and her audience. The big city – raw, contradictory, watchful – is an important theme in her current work. Janssen studied at the Rotterdam Dance Academy. She already began to develop into a notable choreographer during her career as a dancer. Her breakthrough came in 1991 with ELOÏ ELOÏ. In 1992 she founded her own dance company, Conny Janssen Danst, which has Rotterdam as its home base. It is one of the Netherlands’ leading modern dance companies.
Janssen enjoys working on location, in factory buildings or car parks, and she collaborates regularly with artists and organisations from the world of photography, film, architecture, theatre and music. Conny Janssen Danst is also an incubator for up-and-coming talent.
In addition to her work for her own company, Conny Janssen also choreographs works for other Dutch dance groups. Her work has won numerous honours and is performed at Dutch and international festivals.
Mezzo-soprano Tania Kross (born in 1976) stood out during her training at Utrecht Conservatory by winning several competitions. After graduating, she quickly became a rising star, especially in opera. She sang the role of Carmen with the Stuttgart Staatsoper and at the Glyndeborn Festival, and gave countless performances from Germany to New York. She performs opera regularly in the Netherlands (with the Dutch Touring Opera and the Dutch National Opera), but also sings other genres. Kross has issued a number of CDs. Her first, Corazon, won the Netherlands’ Edison Music Award. Kross is a welcome guest on television, where she is capturing new audiences with her love of music. She is also an ambassador for the National Youth Orchestra’s Instrument Loan Plan. Born on the island of Curacao, her greatest wish was to produce an opera in its native language, Papiamento. That wish came true in 2013 with the premiere of Katibu di Shon (Slave and Master).
Hans van Manen
Considered by many to be the best choreographer in the Netherlands, Hans van Manen (born in 1932) is also at the top of the world rankings in classical modern dance. He has created 150 ballets over a sixty-year period. Van Manen’s ballets are austere and taut, humorous and musical. His style is constructivist. His work has been performed by eighty different dance companies around the world; recently, the Mariinsky Ballet in St Petersburg devoted a whole programme to his choreography.
Van Manen has worked on and off for the Nederlands Dans Theater and Dutch National Ballet over the past sixty years. He has won numerous awards, including the Benois de la Danse, the German Dance Prize, the German Music Prize and the Dutch Erasmus Prize (2000). In 2007, he became a Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion in recognition of his ‘remarkable record of achievement’.
Koert van Mensvoort
An artist and scientist, Koert van Mensvoort (born in 1974) is interested in new technologies. He has focused in his work on the philosophical concept of ‘Next Nature’: the idea that technology has become so complex, omnipresent and autonomous that it is best perceived as having a nature of its own.
Van Mensvoort studied IT at Eindhoven University of Technology (where he also obtained his PhD and still works part time) and design at the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam.
He seeks appropriate and surprising media to materialise his ideas. Examples include NANO supermarket (a supermarket on wheels that presents speculative future nanotechnology applications), In-Vitro Meat Cookbook, Rise and Fall of Rayfish Footwear (an online project about a fictional company that creates bio-customized sneakers from genetically engineered stingray leather) and Datafountain (which converts currency exchange rates in real time into a water fountain to make the underlying internet data visible).
Van Mensvoort communicates his philosophy as a lecturer, media guest, events organiser, and on numerous websites.
Paula van der Oest
Paula van der Oest (born in 1965) is a film director and screenwriter who throughout her career has shown an exceptional ability to capture human relationships and depict them with subtlety and humour in her films and screenplays. Trained at the Dutch Film and Television Academy, Van der Oest has an impressive filmography.
Her first long film, released in 1996, was De nieuwe moeder (The New Mother). Her third long film, an ensemble comedy entitled Zus & Zo (2001), was nominated for an Academy Award, and her latest film about a Dutch nurse wrongly accused of murder, Accused (Dutch title: Lucia de B.), was on the ‘longlist’ in the Foreign Language Film category for the 87th Academy Awards. Van der Oest has received two Dutch film industry awards, one for Coma (in the television drama category) and one for The Domino Effect (best director). In 2013, she was the guest of honour at the Netherlands Film Festival, a sign of the esteem with which she is held in her field. It was recently announced that she will be filming A.F.Th. van der Heijden’s autobiographical work Tonio in the coming year.
Wendelien van Oldenborgh
The work of visual artist Wendelien van Oldenborgh (born in 1962) accesses parts of reality that often remain hidden from view elsewhere in public life. Van Oldenborgh gives images and sound their own authority, rather than using them to support her story. An older example is Sound Track Stage (2006), where she set up the representatives of two subcultures, ‘Gabber’ and ‘Hip Hop’, for a musical and verbal confrontation. The confrontation unfolded at Rotterdam’s Boijmans van Beuningen Museum and was shot professionally and screened as it took place. Her precisely chosen social or historical themes are always closely connected to a location, and to film or photography. Van Oldenborgh has exhibited at the São Paulo (2010), Venice (2011) and Istanbul (2009) biennials. She studied at Goldsmith College in London and worked in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. She teaches at various art academies. Last year she won the Netherlands’ largest prize for visual artists, the Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for Art.
Anne Vegter (born in 1958), the Poet Laureate of the Netherlands, began her career writing children’s books such as De dame en de neushoorn (The Lady and the Rhinoceros) and Verse bekken (Fresh Mouths). Her first collection of poetry, Het Veerde (It Sprang), appeared in 1991. In 1994 she published her first collection of short stories for adults, Ongekuiste versie (Raw Version), and she has also written for the stage. In all her work, she writes in the same springy, free, lively style.
In January, she succeeded Ramsey Nasr as the Netherlands’ Poet Laureate, the first woman to hold this title. She is using her position to address the issue of freedom of thought and imagination and to show how poetry can be placed in a broader context and made useful for society. At the same time, however, she believes in the value of the useless. By the end of her term as Poet Laureate in 2017, she would like poetry lessons to be a mandatory subject in every secondary school curriculum. As a poet, Vegter is part of wider society; she is a teacher, sits on juries, and speaks out in the media. She has received a number of major prizes for her work, including the Anna Blaman Prize, the Woutertje Pieterse Prize , and the Awater Poetry Prize for Eiland berg gletsjer (Island, Mountain, Glacier), her most recent collection.
About the Society of Arts
The Society of Arts now has 35 members representing the full breadth of the arts.
Its purpose is to represent the voice of the arts in Dutch society, including in the political arena. To this end, it has collaborated with various organisations on a number of well-attended events, for example the Paradiso debate (in cooperation with Kunsten ’92), a seminar on the value of art and culture (with the Scientific Council for Government Policy, WRR), an evening seminar about engagement in the arts (with the Visual Arts Platform) and an afternoon seminar about arts education at primary schools (in cooperation with the Boekman Foundation). The second purpose of the Society of Arts is to promote interaction between the arts and science. It does that mainly in cooperation with members of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and The Young Academy.
The Society of Arts, which was founded in part at the instigation of Jet Bussemaker, Minister of Education, Culture and Science, is part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
For more information: www.akademievankunsten.nl
Selection of members
The main criterion in selecting members is their artistic achievement. The selection committee, which was made up of Society members and external experts, also made every effort to select new members representing different artistic disciplines, age groups and genders. This year the Society has issued an open call for nominations. The nomination procedure for the next 15 members will commence in May 2015.