In summer 2016 the quiet and peaceful setting of Beetsterzwaag (NL) was disrupted by Gabber Nation. Initiated by artist Henrike Naumann, this project brought together seven Dutch, German and Danish artists from different disciplines to delve into the local gabber subculture. Collectively they investigated the historical and contemporary gabber scene in the region, in terms of aesthetics, politics and personal narratives. Whereas gabber is often explored within the context of its birthplace, the urban setting of Rotterdam, Gabber Nation took the rural area of Beetsterzwaag and Friesland as its unique vantage point. How does this tranquil environment relate to the hard and aggressive style of gabber? And how does the urge for destruction, that every adolescent soul feels, find its way in the countryside?
Daria & Arjan - photo by Boris Postma (2016)
Engaging in an in-depth research into the subculture, the artists explored different facets of gabber in Friesland. It included the rural communities of Beetsterzwaag, young and old, and created a new critically diverse community, the Gabber Nation artists. Historical sites like the Thialf Stadion in Heerenveen were visited, where the first legendary Thunderdome parties took place. They invited the local scene of gabbers to share their stories and music. The public space of Beetsterzwaag was meanwhile investigated for signs of this local youth culture. Ranging from a reconstruction of the ID&T headquarters, to a dystopian photo installation, a bunker sound installation and a gabber teenager boys room, the residency was concluded in a powerful presentation of newly developed works. In these works not only the aesthetic origins of gabber, from Mad Max to Nike Air Max, were researched, but also the specific social and political aspects of the movement.
Feyenoord - drawing by Bobby Jacques (1993)
For Intersections 2017 Kunsthuis SYB would like to reunite this strong collective of artists, including visual artists, a set designer, a photographer, a composer and a digital designer to join forces again for Gabber Nation 2.0: the Rotterdam edition. Based on their residency in Kunsthuis SYB and new artistic research, Henrike Naumann together with Ekaterina Burlyga, Johannes Büttner, Bastian Hagedorn, Tea Palmelund, Boris Postma and Merle Vorwald, will create a reinterpretation of Gabber Nation, curated by Agnes Winter (programming committee SYB). The disruptive sound and video installations of Büttner and Hagedorn will find a new form in a joint effort to translate the explosive energy of hardcore and youth culture. Based on their research into the history and aesthetics of gabber Naumann and Vorwald will create new, site-specific installations. Postma’s interest in the apocalyptic aspects of subcultures in the countryside will be featured in a photo- and video- installation. Meanwhile Burlyga will develop a new performance specifically for the setting of Art Rotterdam. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fanzine, produced by Palmelund.
The artists will open up the creative process again and translate Gabber Nation to the context of Art Rotterdam. Rotterdam being the origin of gabber, where the pounding of construction sites seems to inspire the beat, it is all the more compelling to present this project at Art Rotterdam. Bringing the bold energy of Gabber Nation to Intersections, the rural gabber scene will speak to the industrial and urban spaces of (Art) Rotterdam.