Het HEM is open from Thursday until Sunday from noon–midnight
Music Bar, Fri–Sat 6 pm–1 am
Het HEM is a home for contemporary culture, situated in a former munitions factory on the Hembrug site in Zaandam.
Cyprien Gaillard (1980, France) is known for creating work that connects history and nature, as well as humanity's connection to both. In particular, he explores the beauty of failure and the natural degradation that can be recognised in recurring motifs of ruins.
At Het HEM, we are showing his immersive video work Nightlife. The film consists of four scenes that, like an assemblage, connect separate stories. They were shot in Cleveland, Los Angeles and Berlin. It starts with an image of Rodin's sculpture The Thinker, which stands in front of the Cleveland Museum of Art. This is followed by recordings of an ecstatic dance of juniper trees swaying against rigid fences as if in a state of trance. The third tableau shows a triumphant firework display, the Pyronale, above the Olympic stadium in Berlin. In the same Olympic Stadium, African-American athlete Jesse Owens put an end to the fascist myth of Aryan hegemony by winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics. For each medal won, the athlete received an oak tree from the Nazi organizers of which one is still growing in front of his high school in Cleveland. The hypnotic images are accompanied by a soundtrack to a rocksteady classic by Alton Ellis, in which the lyrics "I was born a loser" gradually turn into "I was born a winner". Music and film, past and present, analogue and digital, come together in this compelling video artwork.