Walking from Amsterdam east to west I thought about how taking your camera changes the whole walk. The first thing that causes you to take the camera out determines your point of focus for the rest of the journey. Is it something yellow, then yellow it is. Is it a bench with a length of rope attached, then the focus stays on ropes and/or benches. It was therefore only out of a sort of cultural sense of duty that I let myself be distracted from my fixation (handwritten text this time) to see the sculpture route organized on and around the Apollolaan.
According to the press release the curators, Rudi Fuchs and Maarten Bertheux, want to show us works that are monumental and epic in character. “Epic” is a word that is traditionally meant just as an adjective for narrative poetry and literature. To use this word for a collection of sculptures leads us to expect that these will be sculptures that tell a story, and that this will be a clear common denominator in the exhibition. Such is not the case.
The works of Tony Cragg for example are good, they create an illusion of movement, they evoke thoughts of decay and growth, and the (in)stability of the material world. But they are not epic. If I were asked to make a suggestion I would replace Tony Cragg with Folkert de Jong; he does do storytelling.
And then we have, of course, (what is a Dutch sculpture-route without it) a table and teapot combo by Klaas Gubbels. Gubbels doesn’t think of himself as an artist, and this is visible in his work. He is an craftsman and his craft is the making of very big teapots where no tea can go in or come out of.
This also is not an epic work. Is it monumental then? Monumental can mean “big”, and it can signify something that is made to remind us of something or someone. The table and teapot are certainly big. But I don’t think they are made to remind us of something or someone. In the most positive scenario this sculpture makes one think ‘that teapot has a spout like an elephant’s trunk’. Not a very deep thought.
But out of all possible sculptures in the exhibition, the primary school situated on the Apollolaan chose to do something with this safe, inoffensive one by Klaas Gubbels. Attached to the windows of the ground-floor classrooms were paper cutouts of teapots and tables, in places peeling from tape fatigue. The teapots were identical to the one by Gubbels, no attempt to depict a teapot in another way. Apparently no one had thought ‘what would primary school students find a fascinating subject? Shall we cut that out, instead of a teapot?’
Walking home I passed another primary school. This one also had cutouts taped to the windows, of butterflies and flowers this time. (You can see how the exhibition changed my focus from handwritten text to paper cutouts). These flowers and butterflies were probably (hopefully) not the product of some subsidized looking-at-art-with-the-little-ones project.
What is it anyway with all this taping paper silhouettes over the view? Is there no space left on the walls? Do they want to prevent staring out the windows? (If so, just close the curtains.) Or is this symbolic of the forming effect primary school is supposed to have? One never looks at the world the same way because this partially paled, in places peeling layer is obstructing the view? If our attention is caught as early as possible by innocent flowers and teapots, there will be no escape to socially unaccepted obsessions.
http://www.artzuid.nl to see till 09-20-2015