‘I imagine a warm spring day. A clear sky, a little breeze now and then, and dejeuner sur l’herbe.’ Two sentences from a letter by Birthe Leemeijer manage to evoke distinct images with few words. This was reason enough for Jan van Munster to invite Leemeijer to take part in a joint project at De Ketelfactory.
Although their work differs greatly, the two artists like to strike a chord with a powerful idea or a single object. For Van Munster the ideas and images revolve around the phenomenon of energy, while the work of Leemeijer functions as a kind of antenna for the invisible. Each artist has created an installation that relates to the jenever distillery located just around the corner – here tastes and smells are day-to-day business. Van Munster and Leeimeijer aim to break through accepted contexts. As concepts, the two installations can move about freely in space and time.
In De Ketelfactory Birthe Leemeijer has created a tapping point for her ‘Essence de Mastenbroek’, the perfume that she had formulated in consultation with the residents of the Mastenbroek polder. It can be drawn from a glass tap. Her exhibition appeals to the visitor’s sense of smell: the odor of an age-old Dutch polder is contained in the ‘perfume’; and dripping from a little faucet on the wall of Schiedam’s Ketelfactory is the essence of the polder. Leemeijer conceived a secret system of glass pipes that connects various places – from Vilnius to Rome, from Dublin to Sarajevo – with the source in Mastenbroek. Drip by drip, the glass tap disperses the fragrance of the fluid landscape.
The ‘ice’ work of Jan van Munster nearly always takes the shape of a pendant. He installs an ‘ice’ sculpture that produces ‘heavenly tears’ every day from the air in De Ketelfactory. These can be tasted. His installation captures humidity in the air by way of a cooled metal tube. The particles of humidity from the air freeze onto it in the form of ice crystals. Each space has its own quality of air, and thus its own uniquely shaped, frozen crystals. Even the taste of the water differs with each space. Van Munster turns off his installation every day, thus causing the crystals to melt, in this case, into Schiedam water that the visitor may sample.
By opting to show the work of Jan van Munster and Birthe Leemeijer, De Ketelfactory is taking a new step. ‘Through Time and Space’ makes an appeal to the senses, which are rarely addressed on a visit to an exhibition.
Jan van Munster
Energy is a phenomenon that Jan van Munster has been investigating since 1970. Temperature, magnetism, radioactivity and electricity are the points of departure for many works with which he makes the invisible visible. Not only do the physical processes interest him; the less tangible aspects of energy are also important. Vitality, creativity and high-speed human life lead to installations and commissions within the Netherlands and abroad.
Despite his use of very diverse materials, his work is always recognizable. Gigantic granite orbs, small plus and minus signs branded onto a sheet of paper, austere formations of incandescent filament, neon lights on buildings, an orb of ice on a table. Everything has been perfected and reduced to its essence.
Birthe Leemeijer likes to fathom the essence of things. First she picks up on the unsightly but crucial signals of a particular place or situation and questions these painstakingly. This gives rise to a tangible image, object or story. Looking, listening and letting things happen are perhaps her most important tools in arriving at a concept. Leemeijer also writes letters to herself, and eventually these might form the impetus for a new work.
When Birthe Leemeijer lived in Middelburg, she carried out a project for the forerunner of Stichting IK, Jan van Munster’s Stichting Plus Min. That project led to their current collaboration at De Ketelfactory. Like Jan van Munster’s work in the exhibition, Leemeijer’s installation took direct inspiration from the next-door neighbor and patron of De Ketelfactory, The Nolet Distillery.
Date: 4 March 2012
A group of travellers, who have signed up for the Distillation Day, witnesses a tantalising shift in time and space. The exhibition ‘Through time and space’ is literally continued outside the walls of De Ketelfactory.
Leemeijer and Van Munster invited the visitors to surrender to a journey with a destination unknown to them. A letter Leemeijer wrote to himself on the 16th of November 1996, was sent into the future and opened in the autumn of 2011. The exact moment both Munster and Leemeijer were preparing for that which presented itself in the letter.
The journey’s final destination turns out to be the IK Foundation in Oost-Souburg, Jan van Munster’s place of work and residence, where Birthe Leemeijer’s work has also been set up. During the exhibition as well as on the journey-with-unknown-destination, there is much to taste, smell, associate and consider.
publication (in Dutch)
Excerpt by Valentijn Byvanck: “The fuller the world and the busier our lives, the more compacted realities we create. We categorise immense amounts of information, summarise everything, we separate the wheat from the chaff, try to focus on those things that really matter, free of frills and finery. But the more we ask after the core of the matter, the more we find that it is determined by our perspective: our mental and sensory essences are inexorably subjective.”