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Maurizio Cattelan (Padua, 1960) is one of the most elusive figures in contemporary art. He appeared around 1990 more or less from nowhere, then for the next twenty years, he had an enormous impact with what he made (or didn’t make), and then at the beginning of 2012 officially ended his career as artist. Cattelan does not work in the seclusion of a studio, but rather thinks up something for a specific situation. He then preferably translates that to a parallel situation from his own experience (often a memory from his youth) and he further transforms that story into an intervention, action or image that is recognisable for everybody. Often, the art world seems to be the butt of his jokes. In 1993, for example, he sold his place at the Venice Biennial to an advertising agency, which presented the packaging for a perfume. An action in the MOMO proved hilarious: he had visitors welcomed by a Disney-like Picasso figure. Cattelan had a Parisian gallery owner, who has the reputation of a Don Juan, walk around throughout the day in a pink rabbit suit.
Song and dance group
This Suriname song and dance group is called: Ashanti Krioro. The Ashanti are a powerful matriarchal tribe on the West coast of Africa. During the period of the slave trade, the Ashanti were not only famous for their gold and their ability as goldsmiths, but also because they offered serious resistance to European imperialism. Krioro means: Creole, a word that is used in Surinam to indicate that somebody descends from the African slaves.
Boris van Berkum
Boris van Berkum (Rotterdam, 1968) is a sculptor from Rotterdam who calls himself a ‘neo artist’. By this he means that he mixes art styles and techniques from different periods and cultures into something new. Van Berkum likes to use traditional material such as clay and creates exuberant, richly shaped and sometimes even baroque sculptures with it. In addition he uses bronze and less traditional materials such as epoxy resin and sugar icing. He was trained at the Rotterdam Willem de Kooning Academy and then studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (Czech Republic).
The painting ‘Abundantia’ by the Austrian artist and designer Hans Makart (1840-1884) is on loan from the Ger Eenens collection. The painting shows Abundantia, the Roman goddess of plenty and fertility, surrounded by the gifts of the Earth. Makart painted this enormous canvas in 1870 for the banquet hall of a city palace on the Vienna Ring. For the wall opposite, he painted an Abundantia with the gifts from the sea. Curator Peter van der Coelen has grouped works from the collection from the 16the century until now around Makart’s ‘Abundantia’, all featuring the same theme. The exhibition can be seen at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen until 1 April 2013.
Hans Makart was a genuine society painter; he is often called the Andy Warhol of the 19th century. When he was at the Academy, they thought little of his historical and decorative talents, but the Viennese middle class loved what he made and not only purchased his paintings but also had him design and decorate complete interiors. His studio became something of an attraction and acted as a meeting place for the old nobility and the nouveau riche. In 1879, Makart organised a parade in honour of the Emperor Frans Joseph and his wife, with floats and residents of the city dressed in historic costumes. This ‘Makart parade’ proved such a success that it was organised in Vienna until the ‘sixties of the 20th century. Despite the many activities during his short life, his star status and the fact that, as teacher of artists including Gustav Klimt, he founded a new school of art in Austria, Hans Makart slipped as artist into obscurity during the 20th century.
Winti is a Suriname religion based on the original religion of the African slaves. Winti is also the collective names of all gods that travelled on the ships with the slaves from Africa to Surinam. For the winti, the ancestors are in addition to the gods of considerable influence on the life of the believers. A winti-pré is a ritual dance evening where the dancers can fall under a trance and become possessed by a god or by the spirit of an ancestor. The sculpture of Mama Aisa that can be seen in Museum Boijmans, is part of a series of 5 god statues which Van Berkum made on commission from winti-priestess Marian Markelo.
'Untitled (Manhole' by Maurizio Cattelan
This sculpture by Maurizio Cattelan has, since the very beginning, played a central role in Boijmans TV. In the programme, the figure forms the link between the world of the museum and the world of the artist being interviewed. Cattelan made it in 2002 with a similar intention: the sculpture shows how he, the son of workers (father a truck driver and mother a cleaner), creates a path from a jumble shed - by climbing on a cupboard, piling up boxes with folders, then placing a stool on the top and making a hole in the floor - into the museum. Once he has arrived in the hall, he looks around in curiosity. Is he looking at the art? At the people walking around the museum? Does he see the living statues?
150 years of KetiKoti Rotterdam
Boris van Berkum is the originator of a festive programme to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery, whereby a very large Mama Aisa will be constructed and shipped to Paramaribo. For more information, please go (from February 2013) to: http://www.IKBENNIETTEKOOP.nl. Boris is also the driving force behind the action committee ‘Ik ben niet te koop’ [I am not for sale] that is protesting the proposed sale by the Rotterdam World Museum of its collection of African art. If you think that the African collection should be retained for Rotterdam/The Netherlands, you can sign the petition here.
Cattelan does nothing
Maurizio Cattelan has fooled the art lover on several occasions in the way Bregje describes. In 1991, he reported to the police in the evening before the opening that an invisible art work had been taken from his car. The only thing that can be seen of this in the gallery is the police statement that was made up about this. And on another occasion, he arranged a medical certificate, with which he reported sick to the museum director who had invited him for an exhibition.
The 3D scanner is used a lot in the film and game industry. In addition, the device offers possibilities in the medical world because, for example, it can construct perfectly fitting prostheses. Boris van Berkum also sees an important role for the 3D scanner in the art world, not only because its use makes an art work affordable and therefore available to a wider public, but also because it can help produce images of ancestors that really look like them.
Island of Brienenoord
The studio of Boris van Berkum is in the former club buildings Arend en Zeemeeuw [Eagle and Seagull] on the Island of Brienenoord in Rotterdam. This island arose on a sand flat in the outer bend in the Nieuwe Maas, near Oud-Ijsselmonde and owes its name to Baron van Brienen van de Grote Lindt who purchased it in 1847 and built a salmon fishery on it. In 1904, it came into the possession of the city and club houses for the youth of Rotterdam-South were built on it. During the Second World War, the German occupier cut down everything growing there, but now many unusual trees are once again growing on the island and Scottish Highlanders graze there. Click here for more information.
Generally, security guard Arie respects the boundaries between his own world - that of the museum - and the world of the artist whom he interrogates. But in episode 3 of Boijmans TV 2013, sculptor Boris van Berkum dares to disrupt the sacred museum silence and Arie has to descend into the ‘Hole of Cattelan’. When he visits Boris’s studio, he not only meets the artist but also the Suriname band Ashanti Krioro and they strike up a conversation about Mama Aisa, ancestral sculptures and the future of art, punctuated with song and dance.
Tour guide Bregje and her group also concentrate on sculpture. The group actually always does that, for they are living statues, who try to fool passers-by (“I’m made of stone”) and then surprise them with an unexpected movement. It is logical that these professionals want Bregje to tell them more about the life-like statue of Maurizio Cattelan, that plays a star role in every episode of Boijmans TV.
Mandy sits at the ticket desk and doesn’t think of gods, ancestral worship, art or artistry when she hears the word statue: she thinks about the coffee cup which, if you throw a coin into it, acts as a switch: On - Off.
Boijmans TV is a collaboration of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, RTV Rijnmond and Ro Theater, developed with the support of VSBfonds and the Mediafonds. The series was produced by the Rotterdam-based production house Popov Film.
The Boijmans TV team:
Sander Burger (final editor)
Kuba Szutkowski (producer)
Dragan Bakema (creative producer) Edgar Kapp (production leader)
Jetse Batelaan (director of guided tours)
Wilfried de Jong (concept and interviews)
Els Hoek (research and direction)
And many others.