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May 2010 – Notion Motion

Five years ago I donated the installation ‘Notion Motion’ by Olafur Eliasson to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Now that it’s being shown again in the museum, I’ve been asked to say something.

I’m standing at a microphone in the courtyard of the museum on a sunny Saturday, waiting for the signal to kick in. Suddenly the past five years flash before my eyes.


I remember when I first saw ‘Notion Motion’. Using simple components—wooden planking, a sponge, spotlights and three enormous water basins—Eliasson made a monumental work that covers fifteen hundred square meters. It’s the power of the work’s simplicity that so appeals to me. When you stand on the planking the water moves, which makes the light move, which in turn, makes the whole installation move. A work that involves the visitor to this extent, that’s simple, minimal and at the same time overwhelming—that is the art I want to be connected with.


When the museum and I began our five-year joint venture that we called the H+F Patronage in November 2005, the idea was that we would purchase works by a select number of artists and each year we would hold interventions in the museum. I knew immediately that ‘Notion Motion’ should be part of this project. This was just what we had in mind with our patronage venture. I bought the work and gave it to the museum, under the condition that it would be shown once every five years—naturally in consultation with Sjarel Ex, the director.


In the five years that the Mecenaat existed we supported several artists, among them David Claerbout, Ryan Gander, Sylvie Zijlmans, Olaf Nicolai, and Shirana Shahbazi. We commissioned Andro Wekua to make the installation ‘Wait to Wait’. In this work, a boyish figure swayed in a rocking chair, hidden behind the coloured glass of a large display case. Pipilotti Rist created the video installation ‘Let Your Hair Down’ especially for the museum stairwell. And we had the ephemeral intervention by Steiner & Lenzlinger, which left no trace after the installation was finished. This transience suited me to a T, I don't need anything tangible to feel contentment, the memory is enough.


As I stand waiting in the courtyard of the museum, I see all these works before me. It’s a kaleidoscope running in fast forward. Then I get the sign. I tap the microphone a few times and begin to speak. ‘You know a work of art is good if it moves you as much or even more the second time you see it. In fact, this work moves me just by thinking of it.’

There’s no doubt about it—for me, ‘Notion Motion’ is all about emotion.

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