2014 - Project Oostum

His name is Jan Scheerhoorn and he has a long and rich experience with the creation of images. Jan – I am permitted to call him Jan – can never get enough of images, and you could even say that he lives purely for that purpose. He knows the magnificent history of the image and wishes eagerly to link himself to it.

I am mesmerized by Jan’s images, by his transformations of existing spaces. He transforms physical spaces into a different dimension. I know them from their humble beginnings and have seen and, above all, experienced them. But still … Those images, those transformations, all vanish again after some time. They can no longer be experienced and I feel abandoned by them. I observe that I have a fondness for each of them and will therefore miss them.

But … not so long ago, something astonishing happened. Something that I had been hoping for and for which I had actually done my best to realize. Suddenly, Jan’s images came to live in my skull. They sought accommodation in my head. I was allowed to keep them, and experience them whenever I wanted.

Eyes closed, a deep sigh, and there I go: strolling through the corridors of my mind, climbing through windows, creeping through hatches. I have access to all the domains Jan created. I would very much like to take you, dear reader, on a voyage of discovery through my head. It is a journey with fresh vistas, light-­‐hearted exploration, experiences of beauty, and gruesome moments. First of all, I like to visit the Ham & Eggs space. I jump through a window into the space and I know that Jan has lived and worked here for a time. It is a pleasant and empty space. But every time I enter it, I have no idea where Jan’s image actually is. I hang around, as if I had recently been orphaned. Until I hear some murmuring: ‘There’s something about the walls.

Theirs is something not quite right.’ And that’s it, I see it again. The existing wiring, electricity sockets and fire extinguishers have been joined by countless illegal doppelgangers. I am confused by whole bundles of wires without beginning or end, and electricity sockets in all possible corners of the room. I feel like an actor onstage who has forgotten his lines and is surrounded by all kinds of strange props. I feel as if Jan has tricked me, but my eyes have been opened to a glimpse of surprising reality. Or is it illusion? I needed this wake-­‐up call to be able to undertake the next adventure, and I move on to the Chromodomo room.

With difficulty I crawl into the space and I am immediately overwhelmed by an intense visual experience. The room originated in 1894 and is completely clad – or rather, gilded – with silver-­‐coloured aluminium foil. All possible incidences of light and colour nuances are absorbed here and bounced back into the space I occupy. I feel at home here, and the sunlight streaming in makes me imagine I am on a Venetian canal that mirrors the sun and the surrounding buildings. Now and again when I come here in grey weather, I feel as if I have been absorbed into a silver-­‐grey icy realm. All drawings in, and all the architectural features of, the room dissolve and all reflections of the foil evoke an indescribable spatial experience in me.

I go via the monumental front door to the exterior stairway that is also coated in silver. The reflection is now unforgiving and I have to close my eyes quickly. Blinded, with a whole rainbow of colour on my retina, I stumble back into the Chromodomo room. Through a hatch I land in a dark, grey space. It is now deep in the night and, after a few minutes, I see the contours loom up of a man standing on a ladder wiping a wall in repetitive gestures. Jan – yes, it’s him – tells me about the various tones in light that he wants to make disappear. For nights on end, he paints them away and never stops. All those cars that drive past with their headlights blazing, as well as that swaying, irritating streetlamp. I’m trapped in erasure room 09. Is it any use being here, and isn’t Jan’s action somewhat aimless? Tints in light are painted away with off-­‐white and dark-­‐blue paint. Light becomes dark, dark becomes light. Cold colours become warm and warm colours become cold.

But I am at the mercy of this room that alternately resembles an endless grey cavern and a grey mist. The erasure room seems to be getting larger and larger and I begin to regard it as a meeting place for congealed nocturnal projections. I hear Jan consistently insisting that this is where he experiences the beauty of failure.

I believe him, and immediately see light and colour appearing in the grey. Jan gives me a glass of water and, with the first sip, dawn suddenly arrives. All the greys have gone. They are only illusion now. Whites, blues and browns have replaced them. I gaze at the after-­‐image of the night, which now only casts shadows. I yearn for light and colour. Proceeding through an endlessly long corridor I reach the AOC room.

It has no door, so I can enter this huge building unimpeded. I feel an enormous vibrancy. My senses are stimulated and caressed. It is wonderful to see the way in which every room here acquires its own particular character with the aid of specific colours and forms. An off-­‐white space seems to be cloven by the apex of a red triangle, another space is almost completely blue, except for an off-­‐white corner, and the kitchen displays a yellow, pointed runner on the kitchen cupboards. Here, Jan has tapped into his knowledge of art and translated a two-­‐dimensional counter-­‐ composition by twentieth-­‐century artist Theo van Doesburg into a three-­‐dimensional one.

He has placed Van Doesburg’s composition over the floorplan of the building. I walk into the painting and occasionally come to zones where I can experience different coloured fields at the same time. For a moment, a spatial and temporal experience makes me feel as if I have been absorbed into a dimension tending toward the sublime. I rise and rise, and then fall into a capsule. I see a recurring, almost cinematic pattern of all kinds of forms in all kinds of variants of grey. This capsule is full of greys and I feel a bit strange and vertiginous. It now seems as if this small room that I occupy is swallowing up the immense exterior space.

This is too intense for me and I want to leave. I now run through the immeasurably bare, coolly illuminated space, called DEFKA. Looking back, I see a strangely constructed building from which I apparently just came. I am now seeking space and tranquillity, and long for beauty and sympathy. I tumble downward, for quite some time, crawl through a hole and find myself in a Romanesque church in the Groningen countryside. I look toward the chapel and see, on this sacred ground, Jan engaged in capturing the light that is entering through a window. For at least two months, six days a week, six hours a day, he is engaged in a fight with the various light hues.

At the moment that I see this, it does indeed appear to me that he is busy wrestling light from the gods in order to paint away the wealth of greys. Light and material, light and paint coincide here, and what more could an artist dream of? I see Jan, always busy in the immediate present, embracing the light and then erasing its diverse tones. I look at the chapel and see a varied palette of dark and light smudges. The chapel looks like a flat surface. However, a moment later I discern a grey veil into which I myself am incorporated for a moment. And, in this moment, I feel absorbed into an expanding and shrinking grey universe in which I no longer have any sense of time.

The chapel seems to dissolve into itself, to become immaterial, and suddenly the grey manifests itself to me in a wealth of light frequencies and colour. Then I realize that the grey has fooled me and has somehow enabled my own light and colour projections to shine through it. At this point I fly to the window, leaving Jan behind. I hear him calling in the distance: ‘I try and fail every day.’ Then I am outside the church, and also outside my head. I have never seen the grass as green as this, and never perceived so many colours in the heavens.

David Stroband