Curators Hendrik Driessen and Rebecca Nelemans are no strangers. They shaped previous successful biennial with the theme of hope. They are putting their knowledge and expertise to use again for the next biennial in 2023 with faith as the theme. In recent months, together with director Monique Verhulst, they have already been busy with the preparations. The basis for the art route is in place and the artists have been chosen!
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.