sunburn and fortis
commentary and image by Karin Bos
published 15 september 2008 Bohemian Aesthetic e-zine, Los Angeles
amsterdam dispatch | volume 1 • number 3
Summer in Amsterdam mainly means a lot of rain; but, every now and then, there's a hot, sunny day. This causes huge traffic jams from Amsterdam towards Zandvoort, the town with the nearest beach—a beach is so crowded that one can barely make out the North sea. Art lovers, however, are smarter; they take the bus to IJmuiden, a bit further away, where the beach is almost empty and where they never forget to stop in at RC de Ruimte. Every summer, that exhibition space organizes a huge contemporary art show entitled "Quantum Vis". There's plenty to see there. In fact, this year's show features 88 artists. I'm amazed at the exhibit's balance—so many artists (and so diverse!) who brought large works, yet it feels anything but claustrophobic.
The masterminds behind this are Joop Stoop, visual artist, and his wife, Lieke Wagemaker, who started RC de Ruimte in 2004. The building formerly housed a church and the tower, these days, is decorated with Duchampian toilet pots. Not everybody in tiny IJmuiden was amused when they noticed Stoops art, back then.
By building an extensive network, RC de Ruimte has succeeded in attracting many interesting artists to participate in group shows. Through their "multi-media dinner" evenings, when big man Stoop cooks a big meal larded with live video-drawing, live music, or artists lectures, the audience as well as the participating artists are able to see the show, meet each other, and dine—all at the same time. This has proven to be a fruitful mixture for the non-profit space.As a participating artist in QuantumVis #4, I attended the opening party on June 28, where so many artists were present that half of the street was blocked by all the tables with food outside. Next to good company and good food, I also saw some pretty good art that evening.
One of my favorite pieces in the show is a ceramic sculpture by Bastienne Kramer ("Baarn 1961"). The glazed figure reminds me of the deformed embryos I've seen at the anatomic Museum Vrolik, here in Amsterdam—especially the figure's head with its too small face. The sculpture is a little smaller than life-size, which enhances the sympathy it evokes. Poor unfortunate, weird creature… symmetrical, as if two halves are stuck together to make one person. Symmetry is a symbol of beauty, but here something went wrong. The twin parts aren't merged to meet their perfect soul mate or better half. The result is an alien guarding the exhibition.
For people with a strong stomach, the Vrolik Museum is an interesting visit. I spent a couple of days there sketching "Siamese Twins", unborn mermaids and other highly intriguing anatomical specimens put into spirits.
After a while, though, I started to see them in my dreams and decided that I should leave it to the scientists. My ‘pathological anatomical' project is officially finished. For those who want to visit the museum anyway: It's located in the Academic Medical Centre of Amsterdam, a hospital also famous for its contemporary art collection. Which is a plus; if you discover that the bone collection isn't what you'd hoped for, the artwork just might make up for it.
|Siamese Twins by Karin Bos|