VITRINE 44 Theo Jansen


When I wrote my last press release, I explained that this edition was more about a reading, than a visual experience. I first knew Theo Jansen as a writer of a column in the newspaper that I used to read. It was in the weekend science section of that paper and I would not have been tempted to read them, had they not been accompanied by illustrations and intriguing titles. Carolien van der Donk, artistic director of the Electriciteits fabriek (electricity plant) largest and most spectacular ad hoc art space in the Hague was organising a retrospective of Theo Jansen and asked me if I would be interested to simultaneously show his work in VITRINE. Both the plant and VITRINE are in the same neighbourhood. At first, being a bit inflexible in these matters and already having other plans, I did not favour this idea, but soon I realized what a great opportunity it was to be able to showcase Theo’s work. Theo Jansen, the one and only, who creates those incredible beach animals. Of course I wanted something a-typical, I remembered the columns and his drawings and asked him if he had any of them left. The week after I was handed a plastic bag with a huge folder containing columns he wrote from 1987 until 1996. A lot were paper cuttings from the newspaper, but there were also a lot of photocopies. In a book of these columns that was published, I read that he had written them for over 10 years, so I must be missing quite a few. Instead of making a plan ahead of time I immediately started reading them. Next to being an artist, musician and (“mad”) scientist, he studied physics in Delft, Theo Jansen is also a talented writer. When I had read about thirty of them it was already time to install the VITRINE. I realized that if I would put up too many of them, people would probably not read them; they would be overwhelmed by the quantity. I also decided that I didn’t want to show the photo copied ones.

So I digitalised the first 22 and put the original clippings in the VITRINE. I added an old box of Meccano. In the end I decided to only put up 19 columns. Upon returning home I was curious to see how many originals I had. I had trouble counting them in the folder so I made stacks of 19 clippings. I ended up having 6 stacks of 19 and 3 were left over. What a beautiful coincidence to be able to use those 3 to replace original clippings that were badly printed. I feel bad that you can’t enjoy the stories, as they are all in Dutch. They are often too difficult for me to understand them completely, let alone translate into English. I had one of them translated, so you can get an idea what they are like.

Next to this you can visit his website: strandbeest.com and/ or watch his TED talk. So enough to enjoy.