Formula B (2001)
In 2000 Job Koelewijn produced a work comprising the text ‘No Matter Try Again Fail Again Fail Better’ in the water of the Westersingel. The text, which is taken from Samuel Beckett’s short novel Worstward Ho can be read from the sculpture terrace on the bank of the Westersingel.
Koelewijn’s idea to make a text piece was inspired by viewing the water as a blank sheet on which one could write. ‘Just like you used to stand on the beach and write your thoughts in the water’ he explains. The words appear as bubbles on the surface of the water, produced by a stream of air pumped through a perforated system of tubes.
Although Job Koelewijn is best known for his temporary installations,
Rotterdam Municipal Council invited him to create a permanent sculpture
on the city’s cultural axis. It was envisioned that Koelewijn’s personal
approach would produce a good counterbalance to the more static bronze
sculptures further along the sculpture terrace.
Inspired by the presence of the users of the Pauluskerk – a help centre
for homeless people – Koelewijn wished to address the passers-by with a
message of hope.
Koelewijn tested the idea for the sculpture at home using a bath of
water, agricultural plastic and a vacuum cleaner. Then, under the
artist’s supervision, a team of specialists constructed a
stainless-steel framework, drilled 1,200 holes into PVC piping, mounted
it on a support and sank the whole into the Westersingel.
The sculpture is turned off during the winter months.
Koelewijn often uses ephemeral or scented materials. For example, in 1995 he smeared the door of the arts centre De Appel in Amsterdam with Vicks chest rub. The strong smell made everyone aware of his or her own breathing. The artist often incorporates text or poetry in his work. In 1996 he covered the floor of a gallery in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam with green insulation sheeting, on which a performer wrote poems with a roll-on deodorant. These remained legible for a few minutes before disappearing.
Koelewijn works with photography, film and video. In a photograph entitled A Balancing Act we see him on the street among the skyscrapers in New York, where he lived for several years, balancing a tower of stacked glasses. The photograph makes tangible the experience of life. The image has personal connotations but is also accessible to everyone.
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