Touching Down in Public Space / english
Canvas Creations / english
The New Masters / english
A tent for all birds / english
Een tent voor alle vogels / dutch
Jumping the Boarding / english
Over De Schutting Springen / dutch
Stands and Tents / english
Lemniscaat / italian

The New Masters / english

The New Masters:
Kinetic and architectural sculpture, textile art, and video installations from a land of painters.

by Marijke van der Meer,
for Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

As part of "NL: A Season of Dutch Art in the Berkshires ", four visual artists from the Netherlands are exhibiting work at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, MassMoCA. This massive former factory complex that once formed the economic heart of the town of North Adams reopened in 1999 as a vibrant cultural hub for the whole region of the Berkshires, in the west of this New England state.

Dré Wapenaar - Our common home

As MassMoCA director Joe Thompson points out, there is something about the rawness and energy and history of the place that "encourages artists to have no fear". That's certainly true for site-specific art like the courtyard pavilion designed for MassMoCA by Rotterdam sculptor Dré Wapenaar. He has created a composition of stretched canvas membranes covering a sky deck made of warm Brazilian hardwood, in which people can gather for exhibition openings, film showings and small performances. Wapenaar sees his work not as architecture but as sculpture. In fact he sees the groups of interacting visitors in the pavilion as part of the sculpture.
Using the idea of the tent as the basis of his compositions, Wapenaar has designed tent-like spaces for many different everyday activities, like coffee drinking and a newspaper pavilion in Rome where visitors could read Hebrew and Arabic newspapers side by side. He has also designed tents for the big events of life: a birthing tent and a "bivouac for the dead", as well as for abstract situations like emptiness and fullness.
"A tent is our common home. If you set up your high-tech tent next to a Mongolian yurt, you have exchange of communication. And you're dealing with issues of privacy and being part of the public."

Wapenaar points out that stretched canvas over a steel frame offers a sculptor the ability to create an endless variety of shapes, while at the same time there is something primeval about having this textile and canvas around you. One of his finest creations to date has been his music pavilion for the performance on four pianos of the music of Simeon ten Holt, a composer Wapenaar himself loves to play.

Dré Wapenaar's Tree Tents

Wapenaar has achieved international success with his so-called tree tents, which hang like large colorful teardrops against the trunks of tall trees. They have a round floor and can sleep four. Originally designed to shelter environmental activists protesting the construction of more highways through the forest, they have caught the eye of a major American retailer who wants to offer them for sale in their Christmas catalogue, but Wapenaar says they would never have had the shape they have if they had been designed for commercial marketing. "I'm a sculptor and I'm happy with that."
Dré Wapenaar's design for the space of MassMoCA's central courtyard has unmistakable architectural properties and is, of course, made specifically for that site. The same is true of the work of Amsterdam textile artist Fransje Killaars, who has been invited to create a large work for the lobby of the museum's Hunter Theater. It consists of 13 layers of horizontal strips of cloth, three-and-a-half meters high from the floor to the ceiling and 37 meters around, consisting of a wild and expressive array of textures and colors that leap into the space.
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