July 13, 2014

A good place for (temporary) carpets

Laurent Mareschal's work in the front, the dresses in the back by Dice Kayek

Tomorrow I'm going to London, again! And this time to make two public installations, temporary carpets. One on a bridge, another in a park.**
Because I didn't have time to blog about my previous stay, I made so much photos to share with you, and I also didn't have time to blog about cool stuff I saw and did before, so this post will be a mixture of both. 

In September last year I made the decision to quit my parttime job (practically I was already fired, only they called it giving us less hours) and focus again on what I really wanted to do. Make art and work with art. With my decision something was set in motion, and I'm still not sure where it is heading.
First very cool thing on my path was helping the French artist Laurent Mareschal with his carpet made out of spices at the Van Abbemuseum. My favorite museum of all time by the way! 
In 2011 I sent in a proposal for the Theodora Niemeijer price. Apparently I didn't stand a chance, but to my surprise they did remember me. Out of the blue I got an email if I maybe would like it to help make this newly bought artwork, because I had experience in making these kinds of 'carpets'.
Of course I would, I'm still very happy that I made an artwork in my favorite museum. Maybe someday it will be my artwork.

Me and three art students working on 'Beiti' at the Van Abbemuseum

Laurent Mareschal technique is totally different from mine. He uses perspex stencils in which the spices are sprinkled. Working in layers a pattern is created that is based on traditional tiled floors common in the Middle East. The earth colors of the spices and adding less material on some places, add to the real like tiled floor view. 
The smell of the spices is overpowering and is smelled (maybe still) through out the museum. I worked with a mouth mask because I was sneezing so much. 
It was nice helping an artist that is further in his career, making artworks on beautiful locations and is still dealing with the same problems or doubts. It's a never ending quest. We were all in awe of his achievements and he really put things in perspective. Yes of course he is lucky, exhibiting in great museums, but he still needed to put himself on the map every time again and again. Winning one more price, doing a residency, finding new places to exhibit. 
So even if you are there (for most artists an artwork that is being purchased by a museum is the highest goal), you are not there. 
This sounds maybe as a silly thing to learn, but for me it really opened my eyes. I should try even harder. So the next thing I did, I applied again for new exhibitions and a residency. And got lucky.

Beiti by Laurent Mareschal at the Van Abbemuseum

What was also very nice, was helping with a temporary work. I thought the response to my work, making jokes, trying to touch it and things like that, was there because of the locations my work was shown. I though that in a museum people would respond more serious. Well they didn't. I heard just as much cooking jokes as I would hear when I'm making a carpet somewhere. I was so surprised and it was so nice to share this with someone. 
A few weeks after the work was finished, I was back in the Van Abbemuseum for the book launch of die wiese / the meadow 1986-2013 by herman de vries. The work "54 kilograms of lavender" that herman de vries made at the Rijksmuseum Twente had the same strong scent sensation as Laurent's "Beiti" at Van Abbe. 
Before the book launch I went to see the work. Three fingerprints were put precisely in the part I sprinkled. The work was unguarded for only a few minutes, no more, because it's watched constantly, and they discovered that someone did this. One of the attendants told me that she asked a women to keep away from the work. The women responded by putting her hands over the wire pretending to touch it. It happend days before my visit, but the attendant was still so angry. She couldn't understand why people didn't respect the artwork. 

In December I made a list of things I wanted to do and places where I wanted to go. My niece Surya de Wit just moved to London after staying with us a few weeks in the summer. And Laurent Mareschal made a carpet there for the Jameel Prize 3 at the V&A, so I definitely wanted to go before the exhibition ended. To my surprise I was selected for the Cambridge Sustainability Residency and added some days in London to my trip. 
On Wednesday 16 april I headed to the Victoria and Albert museum. There was a huge queue before the Natural History Museum so I skipped that one. Good thing I did because Oh my, what a big museum the V&A is!

Beiti by Laurent Mareschal at the Jameel Prize 3

by Faig Ahmed at the Jameel Prize 3

by Faig Ahmed at the Jameel Prize 3

'Birds of Paradise' by Rahul Jain at the Jameel Prize 3

The Jameel Prize 3 exhibition was directly on the left, so I started there. Next to Laurent's temporary carpet, two more made a carpet for the competition. One I couldn't document (no photos allowed!), the other ones were by Faig Ahmed. Persian carpets, part traditional, part pixels. I wondered why these works where all so Middle East inspired, silly me...Next to the Jameel Prize exhibition room is the Jameel Gallery. The Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art was dedicated to the memory of Mr Abdul Latif Jameel, the late founder of the Abdul Latif Jameel Group, and his wife Nafisa, by Mohamed Abdul Latif Jameel, their son.

The displays explain how Islamic art developed from the great days of the Islamic caliphate in the 8th and 9th centuries AD. They encompass carved ivories from Islamic Spain, inlaid metalwork from medieval Egypt, Iznik ceramics from Ottoman Turkey, tilework from 14th-century Uzbekistan and oil paintings from 19th-century Iran.*
And a lot of carpets! Below a selection of photos I made at the V&A, a good place for (temporary) carpets!

Ottoman Silks and Velvets, from 1550 till 1650

Silk with geometric design, 1300-1400, South-east Spain

The lights above this huge carpet go on for a few minutes every hour

Last carpet for this blogpost: I entered a room filled with big wallhangings and they were almost (maybe all) Dutch. What were they doing there?

* Text from the Victoria and Albert museum website, www.vam.ac.uk
** More about my project "Practices of Sustainability" in London on www.sabinebolk.nl