‘Bilders Folly is a work of art of experience’


VORDEN – The four information boards at the Vordense wooden artwork Bilders Folly will soon be replaced by other copies. The irritation over the signs (“flashy and ugly”) and the “patronizing” message on them (“this is not a play object”) led to a playful protest on Saturday, starring Mirjam Ganzevles and her doll Florry.

By Sander Grootendorst

“Who’s coming to play?” At the beginning of her act, let Ganzevles loudly ask the audience Florry. “Well”, she replies in her own voice, “I don’t know if it’s such a good idea. It seems very dangerous!” Florry subjects the artwork to an extensive test. Can it collapse? No, too firm. And: no, no splinters. “I don’t mind and I’m not falling off. So what’s so dangerous?” Ganzevles asks someone from the audience to read the text on it: “The Bilders Folly is a work of art and not a play object. Enter at your own risk.”

“If you read it, don’t you go to the artwork with nodding knees?” Ganzevles asks a couple of visitors to push the intestines they have brought onto the plates. “Now we can play safe, climb, jump. Or do nothing. Or take selfies.” Ganzevles has decorated ‘Florry’s Bar’ on one of the wide transverse planks. She pours drinks.

The initiator of the protest is Norma de Goede, she and Ganzevles know each other as text writers and Ganzevles also knows the artist Floris Brasser, whose archive she cares for. “The name Florry is a combination of the artist’s name and the artwork Bilders Folly.” Which is again a reference to the 19th-century painter Johannes Bilders, who depicted the tree-filled Vordense landscape. The artwork has been on Bilderspad’s walking route since last year along the Vordense Beek.

The goods: “Recently a fence was suddenly put around the artwork and now four of these incredibly ugly signs. What is written on it is also wrong, and I do not mean so much the spelling of the word folly (the signs are wrong followSG). You can play there, it’s a work of art. beautiful is. You can touch it, sit on it, climb it. It meets all the conditions for inclusivity. Here the young have fun, the elderly put down their walkers and have a chat. It’s a perfect dating site.”

Experiential artworks are becoming more and more common, including in museums. The Goods, who has worked at several museums, says these institutions also struggle with it. She shows two pictures. One of a tall, long staircase without railings, a work of art, in Kröller-Müller’s garden. Closed with gates… And a similar staircase on a walking route on the Gorsselse Heide. “You can just get on it and there are no warning signs.”

The playful action in Vorden on Saturday should, among other things, start the conversation about the experience of artworks. “We are now dealing with far too cramped.” What if someone falls or trips and holds the municipality or the museum responsible? According to De Goede, this point all too often leads to an excess of the ‘covering virus’. “Look at Amsterdam, in some places it’s a forest of signs. You don’t want to, do you?”

Willemijn Colenbrander of the KunstInVorden Foundation and the Bilders Folly working group was surprised by the act, which she finds a bit overpowered. “Our experiences with the artwork so far have only been positive. We also think the signs are far too eye-catching. They have an influence on the visual power of the work of art.” The solution is on the way, says municipal political worker Maaike te Stroet, who was invited by De Goede. “The signs will be removed, others will be added, in consultation with the artist.” If it is to be four again is still uncertain.

The municipality acted based on the goods act’s order on amusement and play equipment, says Te Stroet. “Brasser’s artwork should be officially certified as a play device, and that’s not going to happen, because then it would have to be completely customized and no longer a work of art…”

Floris Brasser, also invited, thinks so. First fences, then signs and now other signs… “Waste of money. Everything is cut into such small pieces that no one has the overview yet. Even the placement of signs has been privatized. But I’m glad it’s resolved well. In any case, the municipality has cooperated loyally throughout the process from the start.”

Brasser often visits and sees the most diverse groups and individuals using ‘Folly’. “Construction workers eating their sandwiches at break, youngsters doing their homework there.” He has “thirty-five years” of experience with artworks in the public space, as far as New York. What is dangerous? Where does the responsibility lie? “It is also a matter of getting used to it. Otherwise, you would have to put up fences along every curb in the Netherlands.”

“Did you know that in Germany and Denmark they actually make playground equipment more dangerous? We learn by trial and error. If you protect young people too much, you only make them vulnerable.”

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