Spot #2 Art without viewer?
In Beelden aan Zee, the sculpture museum in The Hague, the sculptures have taken their places. Tomorrow the exhibition Germaine Richier, Beauty turned Beast will have its grand opening. I am in the museum hall to prepare my educational program and I enjoy Richiers impressive oeuvre and the special aura of her sculptures. Two ominous figures, Storm Man and Hurricane Woman, look like they popped out of a swamp to trouble or warn us! They seem to be half human and half from a plant world, with leaves and branches being part of their bodies. While taking in the strange scene, my telephone rings and I get the news there will be no opening. I can go home, the museum is closing down!
I am home, remembering how the strength and ambiance of Germaine Richier's work filled the museum hall. I think about art without viewer? It is there, but it has no counterpart to communicate. It’s only a vague memory, a picture taken from the past or a description in a book.
I am at home in quarantine, dreaming of the museum hall with the work of Germaine Richier. Sunlight fills the hall and while the museum is closed indefinitely, I imagine that the sculptures have their own life. Storm Man and Hurricane Woman walk freely through the hall, stagger against the wall and walk back with their branch-like fingers and macabre energy that can't be stopped. Strange figures jump off their green-painted pedestals and wander through the room. Some of them have faces emitting sound, from other faceless figures you can hear a rustling as if from trees. Mud tracks mark the paths of Storm Man and Hurricane Woman. This bizarre dream scene blends seamlessly into the restlessness that has accompanied the city since it had it's lock down became isolated. The "Hurricane" is raging all over the world, as a virus that is upsetting our peace of mind and endangering our lives. The "Storm" blows away our self-righteous way of life. If the museum ever opens its doors again to present the work of Germaine Richier, we will be different people, different spectators, we will understand the subject of her work from a different perspective.
Germaine Richier, Beauty turned Beast | Beelden aan Zee in The Hague | 13 march to 7 june 2020
Author: Yke Pris, Board member of sculpture network
Photo: Working in quarantine