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The Couch has always been part of Het HEM’s programming. The first version of The Couch was a literal one: a cosy spot for visitors to relax and enjoy curated content that deepened and widened the scope of our exhibitions. As Het HEM undergoes needed renovations between 2023 and 2024, we are taking the opportunity to explore what Het HEM is – without its iconic building on the North Sea Canal; without its history as an ammunition factory; without its comfortable space in which art, culture and music mingle and become something more.

The new Couch (version 2.0, if you will) is a chance for us to expand our offerings to text, audio, video and newly commissioned digital artworks. As we build this platform, we centre strong voices that tell stories that help understand the world as it is and as it could be, with humour, a critical eye, depth and an unending thirst for knowledge. We also aim to support exciting research – artistic, scientific, theoretical – by exploring developments in contemporary technologies and research as well as renewed understandings of earthbound practices and knowledges.

Above all, The Couch should be a space to slow down and sink in, one that you can experience from Zaandam or anywhere else in the world (though we can’t wait to invite you back to our building). Feel free to explore at your own pace: our aim is not to demand your attention, but to offer you what we find most interesting and exciting about the arts and culture. We aim to develop our platform as an accessible space. Right now, you can play around with layout settings designed by Atelier Brenda like light/dark mode, typeface and size and line height; soon we will implement a broader offering of customisable settings aimed at ease of use for everyone. 

The Couch is made possible with support from Cultuurloket DigitALL - a fund for cultural institutions who want to strengthen their program through use of digital technology - and from provincie Noord Holland.