Who wants a marble snack? They are for sale at this (fake) airport on Lauriergracht

Casper Braat transformed the Torch Gallery into a departure hall filled with marble products. From a trolley to a skateboard and a banana.

Jan Peter Ekker

Visual artist Casper Braat (31) has done no half-assed work for his exhibition departures at Torch Gallery. In three weeks, he transformed the white space on Lauriergracht into a departure hall – including a check-in counter, snack machine, signage copied from Schiphol, an abstracted detection gate and a waiting area. Before the opening, he had a thousand boarding passes printed out – all with their own ‘seat number’, all economy class – which are checked upon entry by flight attendants in blue KLM suits. “Boarding is possible from 17:00 at gate D12. In the meantime, enjoy our selection of snacks while you wait in the departure hall. Thank you for flying with Torch Airlines.”

Braat graduated from the Rietveld Academy in 2015; since then he has built an oeuvre marked by a deep fascination with consumer society. Two years ago he had his first (sold out) solo exhibition at Torch, Foreverfor which he carved household appliances such as toasters, toasters, kettles and irons from Italian Carrara marble, literally placing them on a pedestal, thus transforming them into timeless marble sculptures.

Nasal drops, toothbrush

Carrara marble is also the basic material for it departures. The huge vending machine contains not only marble Twixes, Toblerones, Oreo cookies, stroopwafels, sandwiches and bottles of Coca-Cola, but also aspirin, tampons, deodorant, nose drops, toothbrushes and poppers. The edition is 3, the prices of the consumables, partly handmade, partly made with a computer-controlled robot arm, vary from 250 to 450 euros (the fixed amount is credited directly to the artist’s account). Those who have less to spend but still want to use the machine can also buy a numbered and signed tin of peanuts for 2.50 euros.

In the first room there are many more marble products – from a Rimowa case and a skateboard to a banana and saxophone case. The security camera on the ceiling is also made of marble. In the (plastic) bins on the dynamometer next to the detection gate are, among other things, two Stan Smith shoes (modelled after Braat’s own shoes), a Loewe Puzzle Bag, heels, a neck pillow, headphones, earphones, a game boy and a Rolex – all made of marble, all in edition 1.

Not day, not night

In preparation for his exhibition, Braat did not only research materials. He had also wanted to stay at Schiphol for a week, but the Marechaussee had already seen him the first night and he was sent away. He then traveled from airport to airport for ten days without checking out. And he experienced the gloom and complete convertibility of the passenger terminals; ‘no-space’, where day and night do not exist, where a similar aesthetic must ensure a safe and efficient experience for the traveller, and where a feeling of luxury is still created at the lowest price.

His exhibition is not only about the aesthetics of the meticulously forged products, but above all about the tension between a utopian desire for safety and togetherness and the dystopian reality of control and depersonalization and about the hope for something better. In his installation, the visitor is a passenger, unaware of the adventure ahead, who can provide himself with everyday comfort sculpted from marble. But when you end up in the waiting area through the detection gate, nothing has actually changed.

Lonely young man

A lone young man waits behind the detection gate, on the ground, with his Rimowa bag by his side, and of course with his iPhone at the ready. It is Braat’s largest, most detailed marble statue, completely in one piece, and it weighs over 1,000 pounds.

In the same room, a 12-hour video is shown non-stop on a large screen, Waiting in limbo, consisting of a single, beautifully stylized shot of a young man waiting on an airport bench. On and under the bench is a water bottle, a suitcase, a banana – not marble, but real.

The young man hangs and walks a few steps, yawning and playing with his Zippo lighter in boredom. He goes nowhere and waits for nothing. The gallery visitor experiences exactly the same boredom from the same bench. We hope for something better, but are stuck in the waiting area.

Departures with Casper Braat: until 15 February (Thurs to Sat from 12.00 to 18.00) at Torch Gallery, Lauriergracht 94. The snack machine can also be seen at Art Rotterdam from 9 to 12 February.

Picture Casper Braat

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