Moles of Modernism, 2023

Inside or outside?

The origin of Moles of Modernism lies in a presentation that Van Sonsbeeck realized in February 2022 in Het Glazen Huis, a pavilion built for the 1972 Floriade in Amsterdam’s Amstelpark. While sitting in the space, she decides to bring the molehills that surround the building indoors in order to investigate what the boundary between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ actually means. Glass outer walls are a disaster for animals. For example, birds regularly crash into them. But in modernist architecture they are often used to allow light, air and space to flow freely.


The mole is still often regarded as a pest, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the animal is important for the ecosystem and the fertility of the soil. The presence of moles indicates healthy soil with many micro-organisms. Incidentally, moles do not occur naturally in De Hoge Veluwe National Park as the groundwater level is too low. This makes Van Sonsbeeck’s ‘molehills’ here all the more surprising.

Jo Baer

The artist asked the museum to ‘dig’ into its own collection to find modernist works by female artists, which have not been exhibited for a long time. She chose Untitled (Double bar-red) by Jo Baer (Seattle, 1929). This minimalist painting doesn’t actually refer to anything. ‘It is a work that simply “is”’, says Van Sonsbeeck, ‘it is an entity in itself, and forms a nice contrast with the recognizable shape of the molehills’.Untitled (Double bar-red) van Jo Baer

Moles of Modernism is the sixth exhibition in the series Vestibulum. This title refers to the location of the exhibitions. This was the former entrance to the museum, which was designed by architect Henry van de Velde and opened in 1938. The space is now rather undefined. Every six months, the museum invites an artist to create a presentation here, which relates to the place, the history of the museum or the collection.

Courtesy: Annet Gelink Gallery
With thanks to: Jester and Zone2Source

Images: Sarah van Sonsbeeck, Moles of Modernism, 2023, photo: Marjon Gemmeke / Jo Baer, Untitled (Double bar-red), 1972