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Verbeke Foundation: Bizarre and anarchistic biological art forms/Kuns wat jou uit jou gemaksone pluk

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We have passed the huge green vase and the McDonalds M near Kemzeke in Belgium many times, little knowing that it is a post apocolyptic museum without flowers or the awful Big M food. Aside from my wonder at the giant moving spider-like creatures that can be set in motion by a light touch or wind, I felt physically ill at the biological art forms, like fetuses, rotting animals, bones lying in heaps, a fleet of UFOs, writhing thick ropes, an octopus in formalin that twitches when subjected to shock waves … All in the name of biological art forms. Bizarre. Revolting. Anarchistic. Here you are soon plucked from your comfort zone. But, it remains gripping to see what people’s imagination is capable of.

Don’t expect the nearby Rubens Museum or the Museum aan de Stroom in Antwerp. At the Verbeke Foundation you can’t sit back and look at an old master. It’s impossible to look in the same way at a dessicated rabbit on a typewriter, a tongue in a jar or a yellow concrete anus giving the finishing touches to a hotel. The owner, surrealist and a self-declared Dadaist, Geert Verbeke, explains that everything is really incomplete, must also be contradictory, living and unmonumental just like life outside the museum grounds. The grounds must remain unpretentious and be seen as a subtle commentary on art.

On our arrival we were confronted with a totem pole with stuffed foxes. This prepares you for the jars with animal blood, skulls, animal limbs and small cages with bird carcasses which generate energy to charge batteries.

Once the museum stood on Geert and Tineke Verbeke’s farm on which they conducted a storage and transport business. Where once wheat fields and chicken coops stood, their collection of experimental and biological forms started to find a home in old storerooms and strange extensions.

My personal highlight was the huge spider-like animals, Strandwesens, by Theo Jansens which I had seen so many times on Youtube moving effortlessly across a beach, with flapping sails driving them forward. I was amazed by the finely designed mechanics of simple plastic pipes which become a monster with its own personality. With just a touch the gigantic creature moved and I could walk along with it as if I was from another planet. (See Youtube link below.)

The average visitor spends only half an hour in the museum and is then spat out, affected. We wanted to see and experience everything. And still, after an hour or three it was a relief to leave that place with its volt meters, massive spiderwebs, bones, twisted, groaning and suffering objects and the musty smell of rotten skins and old feathers. The attack on all our senses had fortunately come to an end.  

Reference and some photographs: https://www.waasland.be/verbeke-foundation

“The otherwordly and graceful movements of the Strandbeest Plaudens Vela and other creations can be seen in the video below. Numerous specimens of the Strandbeest evolution on music of Khachaturian’s Spartacus. It open the archives of fossils. Theo Jansen’s work since 1990. He tries to make new forms of live on beaches. His animals get their energy from the wind so they don’t have to eat.” (sic)

Strandbeest Concerto

Mobile beach animals walking by wind-fed fins
like a regimented army of skeletal crustaceans
complex sculptures intricate, liberated and whimsical
a harmonic jostling dragon like an energetic millipede

with a kinetic infusion of artistic engineering
3-dimensional aliens sailing along the sands of time
the multi-legged creature animated and mechanical
a self-propelled orchestra of interlocking highs and lows.

© Kym Gordon Moore

Bron: https://www.waasland.be/verbeke-foundation

Ons het al so baie by die groot groen vaas en die Mc Donalds-M naby Kemzeke in België verbygery, min wetende dat dit ‘n post-apokaliptiese museum is sonder blomme of die nare Groot M-kos. Ek was, buiten die verwondering aan die reuse bewegende spinnekopagtige diere wat met ‘n ligte aanraking of met wind in hulle seile begin loop, fisies naar vir die biologiese kunsvorms soos fetusse, verrottende diere, bene wat op hope lê, ‘n vloot VVV’e, dik toue wat wriemel, ‘n seekat in formalien wat beweeg as hy skokgolwe kry… Alles in die naam van biologiese kunsvorms. Bisar. Afstootlik. Anargisties. Hier word jy gou uit jou gemaksone geruk. Maar dit bly aangrypend waartoe die mens se verbeelding in staat is.

Moenie die nabygeleë Rubensmuseum of die Museum aan de Stroom in Antwerpen verwag nie. By die Verbeke Stigting kan jy nie agteroor sit om na ‘n ou meester te kyk nie. Dit is heeltemal onmoontlik om op dieselfde manier na ‘n uitgedroogte konyn op ‘n tikmasjien, ‘n tong in ‘n fles, of ‘n geel betonanus wat ‘n hotel afrond te kyk. Die eienaar, surrealis, ‘n self-verklaarde Dadaïs, Geert Verbeke, verklaar dat alles eintlik onvoltooid is, ook moet dit weersprekend wees, lewend, en onmonumentaal soos die lewe buite die museumgronde. Die plek moet onpretensieus wees en moet as subtiele kommentaar op kuns gesien word.

Met ons aankoms word ons met ‘n totempaal met opgestopte jakkalse gekonfronteeer. Dit berei jou voor vir die flesse met dierebloed, skedels, diereledemate, en klein hokkies met voëlkarkasse wat energie opwek waarmee batterye gelaai word.

Eens was die museum op die plaas van Geert en Tineke Verbeke van waar hulle ‘n stoor- en vervoerbesigheid bedryf het. Waar daar eens koringvelde en hoenderhokke was het hul versameling van eksperimentele en biologiese vorms begin plek kry in ou stoorkamers en vreemde aanbousels.

My persoonlike hoogtepunt was die groot spinnekopagtige diere, Strandwesens, deur Theo Jansens wat ek soveel keer op Youtube gesien het waar dit moeiteloos oor ‘n strand kruip, met wapperende seile wat dit aandryf. Ek kon my verwonder aan die fyn uitgewerkte meganika van eenvoudige plastiekpype wat ‘n monster word met ‘n eie persoonlikheid. Met ‘n ligte aanraking begin die reuse wese beweeg en kon ek saamstap asof ek van ‘n ander planeet kom. (Sien Youtube skakel hieronder.)

Die gemiddelde besoeker spandeer net ‘n halfuur in die museum en word dan aangetas uitgespoeg. Ons wou alles sien en ervaar. En tog, dit was ‘n verligting toe ons, naar en ontgogeld, na ‘n uur of drie die plek met sy voltmeters, massiewe spinnekoprakke, beendere, krullende, steunende en wroegende objekte verlaat en die muwwe reuk van vrot velle en ou vere agterlaat. Die aantasting van al ons sintuie is gelukkig beëindig.

Bron en sommige foto’s: https://www.waasland.be/verbeke-foundation

The otherwordly and graceful movements of the Strandbeest Plaudens Vela and other creations can be seen in the video above. Numerous specimens of the Strandbeest evolution on music of Khachaturian’s Spartacus. It open the archives of fossils. Theo Jansen’s work since 1990. He tries to make new forms of live on beaches. His animals get their energy from the wind so they don’t have to eat.

A red curtain hangs still until…
… the mechanism begins to turn.
A dried out octopus twitches when a current is passed through the cables.
Can this really be called art?
Blood and gore
Did the abattoir eventually run out of carcasses?
More twitching death
A mobile of bones impersonating a dinosaur
Motor-driven writhing ropes
A passage filled with tombstones
Some of the old greenhouses accommodate “Strandbeest” objects
Just a light touch is needed to get this Strandbeest moving.
Strandbeest hanging from the ceiling
Animaris Percipiere (2005). Courtesy of Theo Jansen. Photo by Loek van der Klis
Theo Jansen fine tunes his Strandbeest. (photographer unknown)
The mechanism turns the metal pipes, rolling the rubber bands along.
ET never left us…
We thought it was a gigantic flower, until we discovered…
Ship’s containers decorating a water feature
An exit leading to the gardens
A dead creature, wrapped in plastic, suspended from the roof
Ships containers used as a cubist addition to the wharehouse
Featured

Budapest: A Soviet theatre of tyranny/ Soewjetteater van tiranie

Momento Park – One Sentence on Tyranny

Scroll down for Afrikaans and photos

The trip on Silver and Blue along a straight road through mostly light industrial areas interspersed with partly dilapidated suburbs seemed to last forever. Just when we thought that the GPS no longer knew where we were going, we arrived at the Budapest Momento Park. Almost on a corner in grimy surroundings. Next to a shunting yard.

This is where all the communist statues which stood in prominent places all over Budapest were brought. Four years after the fall of the communist system in 1989, the symbolic statues that were meant to remind people of how great and powerful the Soviet system was were moved to this park.

We were too early and looked around a little before we got our tickets. From what we could see from the entrance made us wonder whether it was meant to poke fun or whether the statues are really revered. Everything appeared half-hearted and rather run down. At least it wasn’t destroyed or thrown into rivers. An abandoned Trabant stood to one side, tinny propaganda blaring from an old radio – only serving to enhance the dreariness of it all.

I had always been interested in NP van Wyk Louw’s poem Hongarye November 1956 in which the image of the wolf thorn tree comes strongly to the fore. This thorn tree features greatly in Hungarian tales and in the poem it is unmasked:

Die wolfdoring staan en bloei
wit wolwe en ‘n rooflied
hef en hef lang huil – en huilbuie aan
wit wolwe en ‘n rooflied….

There we stood in a theatre of tyranny, where the wolf thorn stands and flowers.

Within the red walls of the park is a different world. Gravel and grass. Partly neglected, the grass looking as if cut by a blunt mower. A great sadness hung over it all.

It was in Russia that we first saw the familiar Stalinist buildings and statues that wrestle against your soul. You are confronted by the history of our time through the grotesque burlesque social and heroic statues. The statues must be powerful, speak to the illiterate, spread propaganda. They had to be realistic allegorical figures, role models, striving forward in powerful movement.

The strangest object is the replica of Stalin’s giant boots. It becomes an iconic symbol of the stagnation of an era of terror and total power that controlled Hungary from 1948 to 1956. The 8m tall statue of Stalin was literally toppled during the October 1956 revolution, leaving only the boots behind. The might of Stalin and that dark history is tangible.

A relative in Europe tells us that her uncle and aunt were part of the crowd that pulled down the statue. They later fled Hungary to Austria and acquired refugee status in the USA.

The photographs must tell the story. I can’t. We rode back to Budapest with an emptiness within. But, grateful that we were never subjected to that era and its statues.

___________________________________________________________________________

Dit het gevoel ons ry vir ewig met Silwer en Blou met ‘n reguit pad deur meestal ligte industrieële gebiede met half-verwaarloosde woongebiede tussenin. Net toe ons dink die GPS weet nie meer waarnatoe nie is ons by die Boedapest Momento Park. So half op ‘n hoek in ‘n grinterige omgewing. Langs ‘n rangeerwerf.

Dit is hier waar alle kommunistiese beelde heen gebring is wat oral in Boedapest op prominente plekke gestaan het.  Vier jaar na die val van die kommunistiese stelsel in 1989 is die simboliese beelde wat jou gedurig moes herrinner hoe groot en sterk die Sowjetstelsel is na hierdie park gebring.  

Ons is te vroeg daar en kyk bietjie rond voor ons kaartjies kry. Wat ons van die ingang sien weet ons nie of daar gespot word nie en of die beelde werklik geëer word. Alles lyk halfhartig en effens onversorgd. Minstens is dit nie vernietig of in riviere gegooi nie. Daar staan ‘n verlate Trabant en blêr blikkerig deur ‘n ou radiotjie, wat alles nog meer troosteloos maak.

Ek was nog altyd in NP van Wyk Louw se gedig Hongarye November 1956 geïnteresseer waar die wolfdoringbeeld sterk na vore kom. Die wolfdoring staan baie sterk in Hongaarse vertellings en in die gedig word dit ontmasker:

Die wolfdoring staan en bloei
wit wolwe en ‘n rooflied
hef en hef lang huil – en huilbuie aan
wit wolwe en ‘n rooflied….

En hier staan ons in ‘n teater van tiranie, waar die wolfdoring staan en bloei.

Binne die rooi mure van die park is dit ‘n ander wêreld. Gruis en gras. Half verwaarloos en die gras lyk asof dit met stomp grassnyer gesny is. ‘n Groot sadness hang oor alles.

Ons het in Rusland die eerste keer die bekende Stalinistiese geboue en beelde gesien wat skryend teen jou siel stry.  Jy word met ons leeftyd se geskiedenis gekonfronteer met die grotesk-burleske sosiale en heroïse beelde wat teen jou siel stry. Die beelde moet sterk wees, tot die ongeletterdes spreek, propaganda verkondig. Dit moes realistiese allegoriese figure wees, rolmodelle, wat in sterk bewegings voortstu. Reguit tot binne die kommunistiese droom.

Die vreemdste voorwerp is die replika van Stalin se baie groot stewels. Dit word ‘n ikoniese simbool van ‘n stagnasie van ‘n era van terreur en totale beheer wat Hongarye vanaf 1948 tot 1956 beheer het. Met die Oktober 1956 rewolusie is Stalin se 8 meter hoë standbeeld in sentraal Boedapest omgetrek en het net die stewels oorgebly. Die mag van Stalin en die donker geskiedenis kan aangevoel gevoel word.

‘n Familielidin Europa vertel dat haar oom en tante deel was van die skare wat die beeld omgetrek het. Hulle moes toe na die mislukte opstand oor die grens na Oostenryk vlug en het van daar vlugtelingstatus in die VSA gekry.

Laat die foto’s verder vertel. Ek kan nie. Ek weet net ons het leeg teruggery Boedapest toe. Maar dankbaar dat ons nooit aan hierdie era met hierdie beelde onderwerp was nie.

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