18 january through 16 march 2014
Winners 5th Cobra Art Prize underscores the interdisciplinary spirit of the Cobra movement
The Metahaven Design Collective, founded by Vinca Kruk (b. Leiden 1980) and Daniel van der Velden (b. Rotterdam 1971), is the winner of the fifth anniversary edition of the Cobra Art Prize Amstelveen. With the Cobra Art Prize Amstelveen, the Cobra Museum of Modern Art focuses attention on the values of the Cobra movement in relation to contemporary art practice. Those values were experimental, engaged and interdisciplinary. As Xander Karskens, of De Hallen in Haarlem and chairman of the jury, states, ‘Metahaven is an outstanding example of a design practice in which, in the spirit of CoBrA, the boundaries of disciplines are explored, interdisciplinary inspiration is sought and art is critically applied to society from a perspective of utopian ideals’
The exhibition has been designed by Metahaven in collaboration with Katja Weitering, artistic director of the Cobra Museum, and Els Drummen, curator for the Cobra Museum. It is the first museum retrospective of the work of Metahaven in the Netherlands. In addition to many projects - both independent and commissioned - completed from 2010 to 2014, including WikiLeaks Merchandise (previously presented at PS1 in New York), the Uncorporate Identity publication and New Babylon, a new HD video film by Metahaven, inspired by the work of the visionary artist and architect, Constant. The installation, Nomadic Chess, is central to the exhibition, and was previously presented in a Jesuit chapel in Chaumont, France. For the presentation at the Cobra Museum, Nomadic Chess also includes photographs made in collaboration with Meinke Klein.
Metahaven is interested in the social and power structures hidden behind the apparently transparent design of our digital environment. Van der Velden and Kruk are as much researchers and theoreticians as they are graphic designers. In their projects, there is no longer any distinction between these different activities. In this role, together with the editors of De Groene Amsterdammer magazine, they will publish a special addition about the political implications of the Internet, data storage and data access. This is a recurring element in much of Metahaven's work, and today, it has become a topical and important subject, in which political interests and the interests of society are sometimes diametrically opposed to one another.
On winning the Cobra Art Prize Amstelveen, the Metahaven designers responded with, 'It is a great honor to receive an award that wants to further the spirit of artist-architect-designers such as Constant Nieuwenhuys. We therefore see this as explicit encouragement for research and political engagement in design.'
07.01 11.05 2014
Before, during and after Cobra, Dutch artists strove to achieve renewal in art in collective or associative form. The experimental Cobra movement (1948-1951), in which Dutch artists played an important role, distinguished itself from these other post-war artist groups by being a manifestly international movement. During the Cobra period, a number of the Cobra artists also took part in other, more loosely organized artist associations.
Vrij Beelden (Free Images) existed from 1946 to 1955. It was the first group of artists in the Netherlands after World War II which strove to achieve a more abstract (freer) way of painting. The name is a direct reference to the lack of freedom during the war years. This presentation of works from the Cobra Museum collection includes works by the initiators of Vrij Beelden: Willy Boers and Ger Gerrits, as well as Frieda Hunziker, Wim Kersten and others.
Creatie (Vereniging tot Bevordering van Absolute Kunst) / Creation (Association for the Advancement of Absolute Art) existed from 1950 to 1954, also founded by Willy Boers and Ger Gerrits. Former Cobra artists Eugène Brands and Anton Rooskens also joined Creatie, as did Armando somewhat later. Creatie was disbanded on 9 March 1954, hoping to achieve more by working in broader collaborations with other artists and architects.
It was with this ambition in mind that the Liga Nieuw Beelden (Liga New Images) was founded in 1955. It was a collaborative association of architects and artists, all working from a more abstract perspective. Their ideal was to connect art and life, in part by integrating architecture and visual art. Within Modernism, this idea had already been introduced by De Stijl (founded in 1917). Artist members of Liga Nieuw Beelden (1955-1969) included Armando, Eugène Brands, Dolf Breetveld, Constant, Corneille, Lotti van der Gaag, Ger Gerrits, Franck Gribling, Wim de Haan, Frieda Hunziker, Piet Ouborg, Anton Rooskens, Wim Sinemus, André van der Vossen, Jaap Wagemaker and others.
Situationist International (SI) was an international cluster of artists and intellectuals who strove to achieve social revolution based on artistic ideas. The group was founded in 1957 and disbanded in 1972. Situationist International evolved from the fusion of a range of small, avant-garde artistic movements, including Lettrist International, the Mouvement International pour un Bauhaus Imaginiste and the London Psychogeographic Association. The leader of the group was the French Marxist theorist, writer and filmmaker, Guy Debord (1931-1994).