Every biennial is organised by a different team of two curators with international distinction. The curators of the 2nd biennial were Hendrik Driessen (former director of Museum De Pont) and Rebecca Nelemans (independent curator).
They were invited to express their vision of the unique character of De Heilige Driehoek by setting up a contemporary art exhibition themed after Hope. The 2nd biennial ran from 10 July to 15 August in 2021 for a total of five weeks and six weekends.

The artistic vision of the curators – h3h biennial Oosterhout– Faith

Ever since the previous biennial, the team has discussed the theme for the next exhibition: faith. Before long, we arrived at the original meaning of this notion, which entails trust and conviction.

The word “faith” derives from Latin fidēs, which itself is related to Greek pístis, with its fundamental meaning of “trust, faith”. The associated verb is pisteúō, “I am faithful, I entrust”. The Latin word for “believe”, crēdere, is a compound of “cor” and “dare” (“heart” and “put, give”), giving it a meaning along the lines of “put one’s heart into something” or “give one’s heart to”. Here we see that, along with trust and conviction, faith is ultimately founded on passion and compassion.

Much like the preparations for last year’s edition, which were turned on their head as the pandemic raged, next year’s Biennial is already marked by societal upheaval. Over time, we’ve learnt to live with Covid, and fears of a new wave have calmed down somewhat. But then, this spring, we were confronted with a war on the European border that was previously thought impossible. And aside from this war, ongoing climate issues and an
impending economic crisis continue to loom. We’re living in an age where multiple “truths” exist side by side, as free journalism and democratic principles increasingly enter the line of fire. This casts concepts like faith, hope and love in a new perspective.

Faith and art

Faith helps us find meaning in life and come to terms with its inevitable end. Faith is about the sensation it evokes, about being touched by the realisation of something deeper, or simply about bliss. German theologist Rudolf Otto described this transcendent realisation as “that which is ineffably entirely other”. He believes we experience this meaningful sensation
in nature, during rituals, and certainly through visual art.

Art broadens the horizons, helping people adopt a more open perspective of the world, free of judgement. Artists work on principles of trust and conviction (“putting their heart into it”) and use their imagination to try to grasp the world around us.

Locations and participating artists – striving for symbiosis

As noted above, our selection of artists for the third Biennial is based on the meaning and interpretation of the concept of “Faith”. The environment of the three monasteries is the other major factor – after all, the h3h biennial Oosterhout is no museum exhibition. We attach great value to the connection established by the artist between their work and a specific space on the premises. Along with their interpretation of the theme, the symbiosis
emerging between the work and its location plays a defining part in our selection of artists.

Hendrik Driessen
(Heemstede, 1952)
Director of “DE PONT MUSEUM” (1989-2019) 

Hendrik Driessen started his career in 1977, as a public guidance curator working with Pierre Janssen in the municipal museum in the city of Arnhem. One year later he left for Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum to head the newly-established communication department. One of the projects he organised was the farewell exhibition in honour of former director Edy de Wilde, known as “La Grande Parade”, which still stands as one of the most popular exhibitions in Dutch museum history. Starting 1986, he served as head curator and deputy director of Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. In 1989, he was asked to set up a completely new museum, which became De Pont in Tilburg. Hendrik holds several ancillary positions, among which: board member of photography museum Huis Marseille in Amsterdam, Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, and Manifesta in Amsterdam.

Rebecca Nelemans
(Zundert, 1967)

Art historian, author, curator and interviewer 

Rebecca Nelemans writes about contemporary art and design and organises courses and lectures with an emphasis on modern art. She was in charge of art discussions in museum De Pont Tilburg between 2011 and 2015. As a curator, she has organised exhibitions and festivals both for private commissioners and on behalf of Museum de Beyerd and Stedelijk Museum Breda in Breda, Noordbrabants Museum in Den Bosch, Park 013 and Van Goghhuis in Zundert, among others. Since September 2017, she has also been working as an regional agent for the Mondriaan Fund.