MIGRATORY AESTHETICS

  • Zuiderzeemuseum
  • Enkhuizen
  • NL
  • 2007
2_1(photos: Sanne Peper)

‘Movements of people leave traces and transform the look of cultural places’, curators Mieke Bal en Miguel Ángel Hernandez Navarro write in their introduction to the exhibition Double Movement: Migratory Aesthetics, that is shown as 2move in the Zuiderzeemuseum during the autumn of 2007. The exhibition presents film and video on the theme of migration by twenty-two international artists.

The design of the exhibition starts from a free and associative spatial interpretation of Migratory Aesthetics. Inside the existing spaces of the museum an at first sight complex, but continuous structure of new spaces and passages is created with the help of a wooden, in some respects provisionally looking structure, that radically transforms the existing spatial structure of the museum. Both the apparently arbitrary, labyrinthine arrangement and divergent geometry of the new spaces don’t seem to have any relation with the traditional form and appearance of the existing ones. However, here and there some of the existing walls and columns join in the new scheme, becoming part of the new spatial arrangement, while also the repetitive sequence of existing wooden beams on the ceiling remains visible throughout the building, still referring to the size and character of the original spaces. Old and new, permanent and provisional, everything seems to exist casually next to and with each other, any hierarchy is hard to establish. Still, the whole new structure, its form and material quality and the lack of architectural hierarchy obviously aim at a certain spatial alienation of the existing space. The design intents to provoke a certain feeling of dislocation, disengagement, or even slight confusion. Was I here before?

The new spaces materialize in cloth, carpet and tape. Cloth is stretched over the wooden frames, forming walls. A direct reference to the image of tents and other forms of nomadic living seems obvious, but is disturbed by the stylized, architectural geometry. The cloth is a little transparent. Depending on the incidence of light the spaces behind shine vaguely through the walls. These mysterious and inaccessible ‘spaces in between’ are everywhere and play a significant role in the intended dislocated perception in the spatial field of tension between existing and new. Floors are covered with carpet. Here an evenly direct reference to diverse perceptions of cosiness and hominess can be recognised, but also a hint of religious devotion. Cloth and carpet generate a subdued acoustic atmosphere, that contributes even more to the alienating and dislocating spatial effect of the new in the existing, but that also allows each installation to be attended separately. Both cloth stretched walls and carpet covered floors are finished with tape. A web of lines created by ribbons of tape seems to span the whole of the exhibition, a modest and imperfect spatial image of a world full of unsuspected relations.

The labyrinthine arrangement and specific geometry of the spaces look randomly, but everything is actually laid out very carefully around the exhibited installations. As much as possible within the restrictions of the existing building, the design attempts to meet the conditions and instructions the curators formulated for each single work. The design intends to offer each work a private place of its own within the exhibition, while maintaining the sight and sound of others. A shimmering shine through the walls, a glowing image in the distance or a few fragments of sound; each spot offers the suggestion of another work nearby, leading the visitors on their way while they wander through the labyrinth.

The colour of the exhibition is off-white in different shades; the polluted, coloured, lively and nuanced version of the polemical pure white of Modernism; the former dominant colour of the faded ideal for a better world (RAL 9010 Reinweiß/Pure White/Blanc Pur), that in the course of history unfortunately, but inevitable eroded into some sort of marketing strategy for global capitalism. The continuous shades of off-white introduce some peace in the labyrinth; all different spaces and forms appear to be equal. Only the colour of the web of tape is still a pure and shiny white. As a sort of nostalgic remembrance of earlier days it still provisionally tries to bind together the colourful collection of moving images and interpretations inside this imperfect, tormented and polluted White Cube.

Off-white may not be pure, it still remains highly contagious. After the immaculate completion of the project, visitors are explicitly invited to enter the exhibition, move trough the spaces and leave their traces on the carpet. All spaces will progressively erode by these aesthetic traces of human movement and activity: modest signs of a little bit of life inside the museum.

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