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We should think of our humanity as a privilege. Marilyn Robinson

Arent Weevers: Triptych

ArtWay Visual Meditation 24 November 2019

www.artway.eu

Arent Weevers: Triptych

(a preview of the video loop is to be seen here, the whole installation is now in Barcelona)

Alive

by Anikó Ouweneel

Weightlessly floating in space surrounded by hollow darkness. The conscious knowledge that your soul is innocent and vulnerable, longing for contact but alone and forgotten, is an evocative universal fear. These are my associations while watching the first seconds of Arent Weevers’ video installation Triptych. He elaborates further on this chilling image and creates an enigmatic story in his own tranquil manner.

The installation is set up as an altar piece, recognizable in the Christian visual tradition around the globe. We face three screens, each of them showing a different naked baby boy. Moving in slow motion at least one of them seems to try to relate, to reach out to the others.

The cosmic scene is carried by a soothing breath, a life-giving song of an invisible mother, who is omnipresent through her voice. As if we can hear the soundless harmony of the spheres. It resonates with a timeless human yearning, strangely ancient and modern at the same time. It contains an enchanting, occasionally rather alienating echo as well as the sound of instruments. The melody is sometimes painful and distant, sometimes playful and embracing, yet always comforting as it signifies that they are not alone. It could be the sound of an angel or the Creator himself, humming lovingly, touching the soul, watching, caring and nourishing as close as can be. From heart to heart.  

The music with its repetitions and slight shifts has a wondrous connection to the movements of the infants. As if the mother sings the babies alive, sustains them with a new lively intensity every time the cyclical repetition with slight differences commences. They seem to respond to her and she responds to their movements and informs their story.

The triptych reference to the retable alludes to the life of Jesus Christ. An altar is always a place of sacrifice. That little baby had the potential of defeating death by the power of living for others, the Other. This mystical link is amplified when the video is watched in this context:

A gesture of sadness and abandonment suddenly becomes a gesture of blessing. Reaching out for comfort becomes a gesture of surrender. Its childlike expression shows wondrous gradations of seeing, not seeing and seeing inwardly. (art historian Joost de Wal)

The little boy in the middle seems to be the one struggling to establish connection, crying out for the others. There is an apparent choreography in the synchronicity of their movements, in the rhythm of how they change from black and white to colour, and in the way the music weaves it all together. That is, if you have the chance to watch the whole video carefully.

The sequence of the infants turning into colour, the way they gesture, appear and disappear, seems to suggest that the one in the middle struggles painfully in order that they all become colourful, ‘alive’, connected living souls. Only when that is accomplished, he is at ease and remains in colour. A journey from lifelessness to life.  

In the middle of the more than 12-minutes-long video there is a full stop when all goes black, just after the infant in the middle stretches his arms in a crucifixion-like position (shown in the still above). Then the loop begins again and close to the end all three appear in colour.

A state of despair transforms into consciousness, into existence. Light and colour make the desolate place warmer. Hope for connection makes it less lonely.

By means of relating ancient symbols and music to personal experiences of the viewer, this symbolic and allusive piece of art can heighten one’s awareness and make the spectator perhaps a little more alive.

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Arent Weevers: Triptych video installation, loop, 2019. Music: David Dramm.

Arent Weevers is specialized in spirituality and video art. He works as a student pastor in Deventer. He studied theology at the Free University in Amsterdam and in Leiden. In 2010 he received the prize for ‘Best International Video Art Short’ during the New York International Film Festival for Mary! (2008). In 2014 Embrace Me was chosen during Unpainted, Media Art Fair in Munich, Germany as 'highlight of new media art'. The artist has derived the images for Triptych from his earlier works, such as Embrace Me (2012) and Ecce Homo (2015). The premiere of Triptych is at LOOP Barcelona. More info: www.arentweevers.com

Anikó Ouweneel is a cultural historian and art curator. She co-curated more than thirty art exhibitions. As a (religious) cultural heritage expert she focuses on placing modern art in ancient buildings. In 2019 she curated Art Stations of the Cross Amsterdam together with Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker. Arent Weevers’ Triptych video installation will be placed on the altar of the Lebuïnuskerk as the first station of the cross in the 2020 edition of Art Stations of the Cross in Deventer, curated by Anikó Ouweneel and Arent Weevers. For more see www.visiodivina.eu.

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ON THE WEBSITE   NEW ON THE WEBSITE   NEWS

1. ARTWAY – We are excited that our new blog comes from Scotland. Artist and curator Alan Wilson: "Can there be a renewal of Christian tradition in Scottish art, where ambitious artists create from a heartfelt faith, committed to their Lord and saviour as well as their craft?" Read more

2. ARTLYST INTERVIEW – Jonathan Evens interviews British artist Christopher Clack on the theme of Connecting The Material And Immaterial. Read More

3. EUROPEAN SYMPOSIUM ON REUSING CHURCHES - 23 March – 25 March 2020, Herrenhausen Palace, Herrenhäuser Strasse 5, Hannover, Germany: Reusing churches – New perspectives in a European Comparison. Travel Grants available! Experts from Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Great Britain will meet to discuss the issue of reusing church buildings for the first time from a European comparative view. The intention is to develop new perspectives. Church buildings are important testimonies of cultural heritage that shape the image of cities and villages. As a result of current social changes, many church buildings in Europe can no longer be operated and maintained by church institutions. They are sold, rented, converted. The topic is complex and has so far been discussed mainly at local and regional level. For the first time, the Herrenhausen Symposium brings together experts from Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Great Britain with the aim of exchanging experiences, expanding the field of vision and developing new perspectives in European comparison. The country-specific differences in legal and financial terms have led to different practices of church conversions. Examples, methods and solutions from different countries will be compared and discussed from different perspectives. In particular, these are the perspectives of cultural studies and theology, architecture and urban development, protection of monuments, users, the real estate business, the public and the rural areas. The target audience are persons responsible in church, monument preservation and politics, academics, members of educational institutions and all those interested in the topic. The symposium addresses an expanded public, convinced that churches are public buildings that ultimately belong to the public. Previously there will be a design workshop for students of architecture and theology on a current church project for the future. The results of the workshop will be presented during the symposium. Please find the poster for the workshop under downloads. The symposium will be held in German as well as in English. German presentations will be translated simultaneously. https://www.volkswagenstiftung.de/en/events/calendar-of-events/herrenhausen-symposia/reusing-churches-new-perspectives-in-a-european-comparison

4. VAN EYCK SUMMER COURSE BELGIUM - Call for Applications: Summer Course for the Study of the Arts in Flanders – The Age of Van Eyck in Context. Annually, the Summer Course brings a select group of 18 highly qualified young researchers to Flanders. They are offered an intensive 11-day program of lectures, discussions, and visits related to a specific art-historical period of Flemish art. The Summer Course provides the participants with a clear insight into the Flemish art collections from the period at hand, as well as into the current state of research on the topic. The sixth edition of the Summer Course will focus on ‘The Age of Van Eyck in Context’. It will be held from 21 June until 1 July 2020. Excursions will be made to Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven, Brussels, Hoogstraten, Lille, Mons and Tournai. The language of the Summer Course is English. Participants have a master’s degree or are PhD student, junior curator or restorer and they are specialized in (art in the age of) Van Eyck. The master’s degree was earned maximum ten years ago. Deadline for applications: 15 December 2019, 5 p.m (Central European Time). For a preliminary program and to apply, visit this website.

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