19 may 2016 - 13 january 2017In four successive installations, Platform: Body/Space presents the results of research into four different forms of a single object – the yoga mat, the beach towel, the prayer rug and the tatami mat – and the ways they connect the human body with the surrounding physical (and sometimes digital) space.
Most exhibitions temporarily bring together a range of different, often extraordinary objects. This exhibition deviates from that principle by focussing on a single, common object. It examines in depth the different uses and meanings of this everyday object, that is available in countless variants. Although there is little difference in their physical characteristics, each form produces a totally different meaning. In spite of this, what these modest objects have in common is that they provide the perfect conditions for sharing ideas, spreading images and giving performances.
Platform. Body/Space delves into an object that can be seen as a form of architecture, and the wealth of meanings attached to it. Sophie Berrebi’s research focuses on the material and symbolic meanings of the yoga mat, beach towel, prayer rug and tatami mat, all of which she perceives as platforms.
Yoga mat (19 May - 14 July 2016)
The contemporary yoga mat is a European product, developed in the late 1970s. At that time, the Eastern meditation technique developed into a worldwide form of keeping fit. The mat, designed to prevent slipping, functions as a platform that creates a distance between the user’s body and the floor and other people’s bodies.
Viewing the yoga mat as a platform makes it possible to write the history of yoga through the successive forms of this platform: from animal skin and oriental carpet, via blanket and carpet, to specially fabricated mat and eventually even to a digital platform. All these manifestations also demonstrate how, over the years, yoga has alternated between a spiritual discipline and a physical activity in the East and West.
Throughout its long history, yoga has been practised both outdoors and indoors: in gardens, gyms, living rooms, at the beach and on the street. It has also been connected with changing ideas about the body: from the nineteenth-century ascetic to today’s dynamic woman posting images on Instagram.
This exhibition is part of the programme of exhibition and events associated with the Olympic Games. The yoga mat installation is on view from 19 May until 14 July 2016. The beach towel installation will be shown in the summer, followed by the tatami mat and the prayer rug.
Sophie Berrebi is a writer, art historian and curator. She is the author of The Shape of Evidence: Contemporary Art and the Document (Valiz, Amsterdam, 2015) and editor of Entrée en matière: Hubert Damisch et Jean Dubuffet, Textes et correspondances 1961-2001 (JRP|Ringier / La Maison Rouge, Paris, 2016), a summary of which has been published in the academic journal October. She is a member of the editorial board of the journal Stedelijk Studies. Berrebi gained her doctorate from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London in 2003 and since then has taught art history and theory at the University of Amsterdam. She is currently working on the publication Elements of Fashion: Icons, Gestures, Details.
Exhibitions and activities programme related to the Olympic Games
For Het Nieuwe Instituut, the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro have provided a springboard for devoting a large part of its programming in 2016 to the human body. Not only the physical achievements of individual athletes but also the crowds of people who will be monitored, analysed and manipulated as a collective body by advanced technologies: 24 hours a day. Technological innovations have created a situation in which the body of the citizen and that of the state, the city and the public realm can be more efficiently moulded into an ideal image. The body is being designed at all levels and media play a crucial role in recording and propagating these innovations.
The programme comprises the following exhibitions:
- The Life Fair. New Body Products
- Control Syntax Rio. Monitoring the Collective Body
- Space Embodied. The Russian Art of Movement 1920–1930
- 51 Sprints
- Munich 1972. The Design of a Democratic Body
- Platform. Body/Space
Note for editors:
For more information and/or images please contact Ester Martens, Het Nieuwe Instituut Department of Marketing, Communications and Commerce by email email@example.com or telephone +31 (0)10-4401268.
See also the webmagazine Platform