zondag 13 maart 2011

Cleaning the Rietveld Pavilion Artist Book by Job Koelewijn Photography

Cleaning the Rietveld Pavilion (1992) by Job Koelewijn remains one of my favorite photobooks. It took me years to get hold of a copy and since it is such a rare publication I will share it here.

Spring Cleaning
It is just a small book with only seven photographs and some text, but conceptually it is very strong and it contains great pictures. It documents a performance held as part of Koelewijn’s degree course at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam.
Pictures from Cleaning the Rietveld Pavilion, courtesy Fons Welters Amsterdam
On March 16th 1992 his mother and three aunts thoroughly cleaned the exhibition pavilion of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie wearing their traditional costumes of Spakenburg, Koelewijn’s place of birth. The pavilion is designed by Gerrit Rietveld and is one of four exhibition pavilions executed by him. The other pavilions are De Zonnehof in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, the pavilion for the Sonsbeek exhibition now located in the sculpture garden of the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo and the Dutch Pavilion for the Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy.
Pictures from Cleaning the Rietveld Pavilion, courtesy Fons Welters Amsterdam
With his spring cleaning performance Koelewijn washed away his time at the academy to make a fresh start in his new profession as an artist. It is also a tribute to Gerrit Rietveld and his sober and functional architecture and to the culture of Spakenburg and its tradition of neatness and cleanliness.
Pictures from Cleaning the Rietveld Pavilion, courtesy Fons Welters Amsterdam
The pictures document the cleaning of the pavilion. The combination of the transparent building and the traditional costumes with their beautiful patterns works surprisingly well. It ends with the same picture as the first giving it a stronger narrative. 
Cleaning Cloth
A year after the performance Koelewijn published a multiple related to this project consisting of a packaged cleaning cloth with a drawing on the label showing  a woman in a traditional costume cleaning the neon sign ‘The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths’ (Window or Wall Sign) by Bruce Nauman.
Cleaning Cloth by Job Koelewijn, courtesy Fons Welters Amsterdam
If I remember correctly Koelewijn approached the Kröller-Müller Museum that owns the work with a proposal to clean this famous neon sign. The museum refused because of the fragility of the work. Interesting enough when I browsed the website of the museum for a picture of the Bruce Nauman piece, the only one I found was on the page explaining the house rules of the museum ‘to protect the often fragile works of art’. It shows a kid lying on the museum floor in order to touch the neon tubes. 
Source: website Kröller-Müller Museum
Cleaning the Rietveld Pavilion was printed by Steendrukkerij de Jong & Co in an edition of 500 copies. The pictures where made by Erik van den Boom, a fellow student. Job Koelewijn is represented by Galerie Fons Welters.

A Balancing Act van Job Koelewijn uit 1998

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