The serial work Hollands Kabinet (Dutch Cabinet) started on October 14, 2010 – the day that the minority cabinet Rutte, supported by the Freedom Party (PVV), took power. From that moment on Sara van der Heide made a drawing of a Dutch cabinet every day. Hollands Kabinet is a colloquial term for the Dutch government, but also the name for a traditional Dutch storage cabinet. The collection of cabinets grew and became more varied with each new day and drawing. On 23 April 2012, the cabinet fell, which means the work is now given its final form. On that day, the last drawing Cabinet 558 was added to the series.
The pluriform nature of the Dutch history is shown through the history of these examples of the Dutch cabinet. The wood cabinet has its origin in Asia and, via the influence of Moorish culture in Spain, found its way to Holland around 1600. Most of these cabinets were fabricated in Holland using Dutch oak, but there are also many examples of cabinets produced with ‘exotic’ wood. Additionally, and during Dutch colonial times, cabinets were also made in former colonies, for example in the Cape of Good Hope (currently South Africa); Ceylon (currently India); Batavia (currently Indonesia and Sri Lanka), Curacao and New York. These silent witnesses of the personal and national history of the Netherlands have been present for centuries in many Dutch households and were (and sometimes still are) passed on from generation to generation.
The Van Abbemuseum wishes to promote and show art that addresses the social reality of today. Hollands Kabinet is in line with this vision. With Sara van der Heide’s project, the museum returns to the issue of Dutch identity which was central to its big research and exhibition project Be(com)ing Dutch (2007-2008) as well as in other projects.
Charles Esche, director of the Van Abbemuseum: “What is strong about Sara van der Heide’s project, is that it builds something, where the current government is only deconstructing. The works shows that art is a fragile, exciting and mysterious activity, which creates a space for a type of reflection that is nowhere else to be found.. If you lose this possibility, you will make society poorer and almost unaware of its own decisions.”