From 2 September 19h to 30 October 2022, Het HEM presents Sweet Harmony: Out of the Underground – the third edition of a series of exhibitions that reflect on 40 years of rave culture from an artistic point of view.
After previous editions in London and Manchester, the third edition of Sweet Harmony takes place in the most suitable space in Het HEM: the 200m-long former shooting range in the basement of the building. Raw and dark with multigenerational graffiti on its concrete walls, the tunnel’s post-industrial architecture will feel like familiar territory to ravers old and new.
Rave has been a breeding ground for creative expression since its inception in the US (Chicago and Detroit), the UK, the Balearics and continental Europe. Sweet Harmony shows works of artists who came from rave culture or are inspired by it in their practice. Their artistic expressions touch upon themes such as the spiritual and mythical aspects of rave; rave as a space for queer play and resistance; and exposes how rave culture has emerged in various cities worldwide at the same time.
The nightclubs Waakzaamheid in Koog aan de Zaan, Parkzicht in Rotterdam, and the RoXY in Amsterdam were places of prominence where manifestations of the Dutch rave and house culture in the late eighties and early nineties originated.
Sweet Harmony outlines the broad international context in which Dutch rave culture is embedded. It gives new meaning to local, seemingly self-contained expressions of mass youth culture and its impact on contemporary art and culture on a global scale.
For Sweet Harmony, guest curators Inez Giele de Jong and Joost van Bellen, former programmers of the Club RoXY, have compiled an ode to the art collection of this illustrious Amsterdam nightspot, which put culture, art and music movements such as house, easy tune and hip-hop on the map in the Netherlands.
Under the name R.A.R.O.X.Y. 'Reminiscing the Artwork of the Radical outlet for the Xenomaniac in You', this mini-exhibition emphasises the presence of art and performance with the belief that it has been the inspiration for spectacle esthetics at festivals as we know them today.
Participating artists of Sweet Harmony include Harvey Ross Ball, Aukje Dekker & Gerald van der Kaap, Meeus van Dis, Franklin, Thomas van Linge, Michele Rizzo, Sarah Schönfeld, Alyson Sillon, Ari Versluis, Juha van 't Zelfde, Spyros Rennt, Mark Leckey, Vinca Petersen
The R.A.R.O.X.Y. Room includes artworks from artists Paul Blanca, Leigh Bowery, Cleo Campert, Jean-Paul Commandeur, Erik Fens, Peter Giele, Pieter Bijwaard, Harry Heyink, René Habermacher, Jurriaan van Hall, Gerald van der Kaap, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Seymour Likely, Siert Dallinga, Maxim Meekes, Erwin Olaf, Ruud van der Peijl, Walter Russ, Niels Schumm & Nepco, Gebr. Silvestri, Aam Solleveld, Jan Verburg, Guus van der Werf and more.
Sweet Harmony takes place in our underground shooting range, which regretfully is only accessible through stairs. People in a wheelchair or with other mobility aids, please contact us prior to your visit so that we can assess how we can facilitate your visit to this exhibition.
The exhibition also includes very dark sections, fast flickering and loud sounds.
When we climb through a chain-link fence into an abandoned warehouse or gather far outside the city to dance through the dawn, we step into a radical alternative to contemporary society. This can be an entirely hedonistic act, amped up by drugs, knaldrang and epic sound systems. But it’s also a political one: rave as temporary autonomous zone, an intentional space for unmediated human interaction in opposition to expected social behavior.
Raves and electronic music originate in Black and queer communities, in collectives of marginalized and disaffected youth. The artists showing their work in Sweet Harmony— Out of the Underground represent many iterations of rave from many timelines. But the undercurrent of social connection and resistance to (moralizing) judgment is a binding element in their practices. Het HEM‘s long, dark and raw shooting range resonates with the urgency of creative expression as a natural outcome of rave parties and social autonomy.
But is rave culture itself an incubator for autonomy, togetherness, and artistic liberty, or are we romanticizing it? Isn’t the relationship between art, rave and resistance more complex? And what does this freedom to create signify when the lights come on at the end of the night?
Participating artists: Michele Rizzo, Ari Versluis, Spyros Rennt, Alyson Sillon, Aukje Dekker & Gerald van der Kaap, Sarah Schönfeld, Thomas van Linge, Harvey Ross Ball, Franklin, Vinca Petersen, Juha van ‘t Zelfde, Meeus van Dis, Mark Leckey, Nokukhanya Langa, and Joost van Bellen/Ines Giele-de Jong as curators of the R.A.R.O.X.Y-room
Sweet Harmony is curated by Maia Kenney, Kim Tuin & Rieke Vos
Texts: Maia Kenney & Rieke Vos
Production: Sarah de Jonge & Miguel Scholtens Moreira
Communication: Monse Alvarado Alvarez, Charlene Austin & Alex Guern
Fundraising: Ada Harpole & Berber Meindertsma
Technical production: Anything is Possible
Light design: Theatermachine
Audio-visual: Ultra Way System
Graphic design: So-Yeon Kim & Young Eun Park
Press partner: Numéro Netherlands
Initiating partner: Sweet Harmony Productions
With special thanks to the participating artists our funders, lenders and Pillars of Support – and to the relentless beatmakers, energy-spreaders and storytellers who fuel our minds and bodies.
Sweet Harmony – Out of the Underground is possible with the support of