A Dutch Cultural Landscape In Beijing
The Netherlands is a cultural landscape in and of itself. In no other country is it more essential for people to interact with the landscape and live in harmony with it. Every square millimetre is designed, everything is taken into consideration. If you want to live below sea level, you have to build dykes to keep the water out. Over the course of time, this situation has determined a way of thinking and put a strong stamp on Dutch literature, design and architecture.
The Netherlands will be the guest of honour this summer at the 18th Beijing International Book Fair. The Dutch exhibit, which covers an area of 1500 m2, is called ‘Open Landscape - Open Book’. In addition to the Dutch Foundation for Literature, which is taking along 21 authors to internationally promote, 16 Dutch publishers will be present, and 8 exhibitions illustrating the full range of Dutch books. These include exhibitions on Vincent van Gogh and his life in letters, 12 Dutch illustrators, the Sinologist Robert van Gulik, and literature in comic strip form by such artists as Joost Swarte and Peter Pontiac. Dick Bruna is presenting the ‘Year of the Rabbit’ with Nijntje (‘Miffy’ in the English and Chinese translations) and there will be a selection of the best, as well as best-designed, Dutch books on art, architecture and design. All of these sections, along with an auditorium area, a Chinese bookshop and an information desk, will be accommodated in a single, open landscape. A landscape that creates an open area between the high stands that surround it, and remains low, like the Low Lands.
On a raised flat field, the visitor walks through recesses in the open landscape. The recesses are bounded by waist-high dykes, allowing concentration on the exhibited work, but also offering a view across the open landscape of the Netherlands as a country of books. The exhibitions are on top of and in between the dykes in the landscape, with the Dutch Foundation for Literature and the publishers located at the centre in the inner-dyke area. This indoor landscape also has a typically Dutch sky, which floats above the stand as an illuminated layer of clouds. Here, the sun literally breaks through the clouds.
With its straight lines and clear, open spaces, the stand represents the Netherlands in the literal sense. Not only does it serve as a boundary between the exhibitions, it also doubly functions as an area with objects to sit upon, displays and written information. It represents makeability and functionality. The flat, horizontal land is interrupted here and there by life-sized, vertical figures such as Miffy, a self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh, life-sized blowups of the comic strips and a peek into the wondrous Chinese world of Robert van Gulik. A Dutch cultural landscape in Beijing.
Ira Koers and Roelof Mulder have designed the Dutch book pavilion.