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Artist creates cloud in the Handelingkamer of the House of Representatives building at Binnenhof

10 October 2023

Berndnaut Smilde's work is now on display on the billboard column on Lange Voorhout as part of exhibition MC's Mindgames (photo: Johan Nieuwenhuize / The Hague & Partners)

The Hague - Volatile, changeable, elusive and imposing. These terms apply perfectly to Berndnaut Smilde's artworks. For his series 'Nimbus', he takes pictures of self-created clouds in iconic buildings. This week, his latest work was unveiled at the Museumkwartier The Hague: Nimbus Acts Room 2023.

Artist Berndnaut Smilde was given the unique opportunity to create an installation in the form of a photograph of a cloud shot in the imposing Acting Chamber of the Dutch Parliament building on the Binnenhof for the exhibition MC's Mindgames. The photo will be displayed on the monumental cast-iron billboard column on Lange Voorhout. The column - also known as 'pepper pot' after its resemblance to a pepper shaker - stands directly opposite Bodega De Posthoorn.

MC's Mindgames is part of an exhibition series organised by The Hague & Partners during the renovation of the Binnenhof to keep the city centre of The Hague attractive during the renovation. MC's Mindgames is made possible with a contribution from the municipality of The Hague and Stichting Museumkwartier Den Haag.

Library of the Binnenhof

Everything said in the House of Representatives during a debate is written down and collected in records. These 'Acts', as the records are called, are housed in the old library of the former Ministry of Justice; the Actions Room.

 The room, whose furnishings date from 1883, was designed by government architect Cornelis Hendrik Peters (a pupil of Pierre Cuypers) in Neo-Holland Renaissance style. Many Chinese influences can also be recognised: the red and green furnishings, the dragon claw-shaped handles, the scales in the roof dome and the dragon heads on the balustrades.

Due to the renovation of the Binnenhof, the Handelingenkamer - one of the 4,000 rooms and spaces in the Binnenhof complex - is empty for the first time in a long time. At 13.5 metres long, 6 metres wide and 9 metres high, the Bulletin Room has space for 30,000 books.

Invention of the year

As the books are now temporarily stored elsewhere, Groningen artist Smilde was able to extend his iconic Numbus series with a picture taken in the impressive backdrop of the Acting Room. Creating the cloud did not harm the historic space. "To create a cloud in a room, you need high humidity and low temperature. We could never have done that if the room was full of books," Smilde says. "It took us a whole day to take the picture, while the cloud hung in the air for only a few seconds."

The 'Nimbus' series, which focuses on the cloud as a temporary sculpture, was Smilde's breakthrough moment. In 2012, Time Magazine praised this poetic intervention in space as "one of the best inventions of the year". With exhibitions in venues including London and Bristol (England), Perth (Australia) and Landskrona (Sweden), he now has a huge range of exhibitions to his name.

Temporary exhibition

Mary Hessing, curator of MC's Mindgames, says: "Smilde manages to float a small, perfectly white cloud in the middle of a room and capture it in photographs. This is a matter of precision: temperature, humidity and lighting have to be perfectly matched. With the right parameters, Berndnaut conjures up a cloud with a smoke machine. Miraculous this is, though."

MC's Mindgames is a temporary exhibition in the Museumkwartier The Hague in which six young artists respond to the thoughts of graphic artist Escher. The name, MC's Mindgames, refers to the initials of Maurits Cornelis Escher. Besides Smilde's work, other installations can be found at Lange Voorhout number 78 and Kazernestraat 23A. MC's Mindgames is freely accessible between 11am and 5pm on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until 29 October.

MC's Mindgames is a production of BinnenhofBuiten, a project of The Hague & Partners. BinnenhofBuiten organises events and activities in the Museum Quarter during the renovation of the Binnenhof, such as previously BlowUp Art Den Haag in May this year. For more information, visit www.denhaag.com/nl/agenda/mc-mindgames.


Nimbus Handelingenkamer 2023 created by Berndnaut Smilde for the temporary exhibition MC's Mindgames at Museumkwartier The Hague. (Photo: Berndnaut Smilde / Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk)