What is StadsKunstKamer Haarlem?
Literal translation is City’s Art Chamber/Room.
You cannot see or access it from inside the Publiekshal. It’s a small space for art, to be seen in the window when passing by.
What is on display?
Most exhibitions there last a month. Since I’m not in Haarlem all the time, I did not catch that many of the mini-exhibitions at Stadskunstkamer yet. I saw maybe 5 or 6 in total.
I really liked most of them, as I like the one that is in there now.
In my opinion, the space works best for 3D art, sculptural art and installations.
At the moment, there is an installation by Piet Zwaanswijk. He is a self-proclaimed ‘Quasi-Realist with very eclectic and varied art.
This installation is one in a series of 6, all by Piet Zwaanswijk, each there for a month and each with a theme that is related to the actuality (e.g. the sales-period, Prinsjesdag and now Saint Nicolas /autumn /winter /the holidays). I think there’s only one more to come, from the series of six.
What is this installation about?
To be honest: I have no clue.
Clues and connotations
No, that’s not true. The artwork is filled with clues and connotations.
- St Nicolas (because of the hat on the man on the chair)
- autumn (the leaves on the floor)
- winter (the outfit of the man on the chair…brrr…)
- winter sports (the deer on the wall, wearing a ‘lederhosen’ (translation: leather breeches) like a horse with a feedbag)
- religion (the crucifix on the wall)
- SM (the mistress with whip in the painting, that apparently shows NO MERCY)
- psychiatry (the man with the frantic eyes tied to his bed)
- sickness, death and decay (the unhealthy complexion of both guys and of the little doll/girl)
- gezelligheid (cosiness)(the lighting and the persian carpet on the floor)
So what does it mean?
I’m not sure.
I see a scene, a story, a still from a (horror-)movie. It speaks to my imagination. It makes me wonder. Curious.
I have little to no information about what the artist wants to show or tell us here. (Although I heard through the grapevine that it refers to the deteriorating (mental-) health care in the Netherlands.)
But I can tell you MY story; here’s what I see in it:
These two men don’t like winter nor the holidays. At least not all the obligations and hypocrisy that often come with it. They feel bound and gagged by the obligatory ‘gezelligheid’ (cosiness), by Christmas Carols being forced upon them (the headset and the frantic eyes…”please….no more Christmas music!…”).
They feel locked up in their house, turning pale and green, waiting for the sun and summer to come back.
Instead of peace and freedom, they feel society’s rules and rituals weigh heavy on them.
How about you? What do you see and think when looking at this installation? Let me know in the comments. I would love to know!
Art in public spaces
By chance -while preparing this post- it came to my attention that there is some controversy around this work of art. Some parents are disturbed by it, because apparently it upsets their children. They would like more uplifting and cheerful art in a public space like this.
I admitt, this artwork is pretty gloomy. It’s eerie and a bit scary.
But the window is located on the corner of a small alley and a wide road. Meaning that you CAN avoid passing by it, if you don’t like it. You can choose the next street, if it scares your children.
Does art in the public space have to be easy on the eye and pleasing?
It raises the question wether art in public spaces always has to be pretty and happy. Where do you/we draw the line? Maybe at full nudity? Erected penises? Sex? Violence?
It also raises questions about parenting and children. How protective do you want to be as a parent? Does everything in the public space need to be child-friendly or child-approved? How does the opinion and attitude of parents influence how their children perceive something?
Don’t look at me, folks. I sure don’t have all the answers. What’s your opinion about these matters?
I love the StadsKunstKamer exactly how it is
In my opinion, this installation (and similar art) is at it’s place in the StadsKunstKamer. I was very pleased when I saw it. I was intrigued and even had to laugh about some of the elements, like the lederhosen on the deer.
StadsKunstKamer adds to Haarlem’s ‘cool’-factor
The StadsKunstKamer makes me proud of Haarlem and definitely adds to Haarlems interesting-ness for me. As said in my previous post (about Gather), I applaud all initiatives that make Haarlem more interesting, more contemporary, lively, hip and cool.
What I miss
What I miss about the StadsKunstKamer is information.
E.g. a FaceBookPage that is well-maintained and updated. With info about past, current and upcoming exhibitions, with a calendar, and with information about the artists and the art works. Maybe a tip for the organizers?
Looking forward to the next art installation at StadsKunstKamer already!