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up to and including 18 October 2015

Ted Noten - Non Zone

What is value? What is originality? What is the difference between an original and a reproduction? Isn’t art always a reproduction of an idea or a perception? These are questions that preoccupy artist Ted Noten. For the exhibition ‘Non Zone’ in the summer of 2015 he took a risk: he moved his entire studio to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and remained behind in the empty space, his ‘Non Zone’. During this period he reflected upon the origins of his work and kept visitors informed by sending a visual message each day from the ‘Non Zone’.

This summer Ted Noten (Swalmen, 1956) exhibited the installation ‘Non Zone’ in three of the museum’s galleries (1, 2 and 39). In one space he built his own ‘Tower of Babel’ close to Bruegel’s famous medieval painting and in another he exhibited paper replicas of the jewellery he has made over the past ten years. He filled the third gallery with a mound of sand. Once a week a mechanical digger moved the sand from one side of the gallery to the other, in keeping with his motto: “to create you have to move”.

This video by Hans Wessels gives an impression of the making of the exhibitions.

Two towers

Two years ago Ted Noten wanted to borrow the ‘real’ Tower of Babel from the museum for his solo exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum in Den Bosch. In addition to his own work he wanted to show his sources of inspiration. He sent director Sjarel Ex a postcard of ‘The Tower of Babel’ with a loan request, but received a negative response by text message. He briefly considered having a copy of the painting made but eventually decided to exhibit the postcard and the rejection message. He called upon visitors to follow up his loan request to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in the same manner; Sjarel Ex was inundated with postcards.

About Ted Noten

Ted Noten has achieved international fame for his jewellery and bags in which valuable objects such expensive rings, cocaine, a dead sparrow wearing a tiny string of pearls and gold-plated pistols are encased in acrylic resin. This transparent plastic is an invisible yet essential component of his sensational designs. Several of Noten’s works have caused a stir. His work ‘The Pistol Saints’, a gold-plated imitation pistol exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, was destroyed by the police because it was considered a forbidden weapon under the Weapons and Munitions Act. Another high-profile project is the ‘Mercedes Brooch’, metal brooches cut from the bodywork of a luxury Mercedes Benz car: in Noten’s eyes the ultimate symbol of capitalist success. The museum has previously shown his work in the exhibitions ‘Global Tactile Pieces, Volume 2’ (2006) and ‘Design Column #8’ (2014). His pimped cleaning trolley ‘Periscope’ (2008) is part of the museum’s redesigned entrance area and his ‘Train Necklace’ (2008) and ‘Chastity Belt’ (2005) are also in the museum’s collection.

In the video Ted Noten tells about the story behind the exhibition and his fascination for the work 'The Tower of Babel' by Pieter Bruegel.


The exhibition coincided with the launch of the book ‘Ted Noten, Ubiquist’ published by nai010 publishers. Ted Noten signed copies during the exhibition opening on the 19th June. For more information about the book visit the nai010 website.