by Mandan Lynn
Smithwick, South Dakota
November 4, 2006
I loved this museum. Usually I hesitate a little when it comes to contemporary art, and I won't say I didn't have my "What the hell...?" moments in there, but overall I was intrigued and entertained.I went with a friend, which is the first time I've viewed contemporary art with anybody, and I must recommend it. It's a lot of fun to bounce ideas off each other, and sometimes just to laugh together at whatever it is you're looking at.My favorite exhibit by far was the eight short films by Pawel Althamer. They are experiments of sorts; in each film (except for the one about his daughter) he is under the influence of something - peyote, hash, LSD, hypnosis. I was especially fascinated by the two in which he underwent hypnosis. In the first, he was taken to a past life in which he was a little boy in Warsaw in 1945. I ended up watching four of the eight films, but could have easily watched all eight, if my friend hadn't gotten restless and it wasn't almost closing time, anyway.Another exhibit was by Bethan Huws, the winner of the Biennial Award for Contemporary Art. The exhibit included many watercolors - all quite simple, each focusing just on one thing (hands, flowers, circles, for example). There were also many "word-vitrines" - words and phrases on those black boards, the ones with the white letters you see at concession stands, high schools, or occasionally the theatre. Some were poignant, some silly, some seemingly pointless (I didn't get much out of the set on which one was written "Ladies" and the other "Gentlemen"), but my favorite by far was the one that said, "What's the point of giving you any more artworks when you don't understand the ones you've got?" I had to laugh at myself for making the internal comments on the "Ladies" and "Gentlemen" pieces.Perhaps the best piece in the entire museum was hiding in the corner. You enter this large room, and it's totally empty, except for the watercolors on the wall. Many, many watercolors. But there are no works on the floor at all, not even any chairs for the museum-goers.In the corner of this room there are three walnuts. Ceramic walnuts the size of grapefruits. There is no little placard that reveals their title. They're just there, three ceramic walnuts, almost like someone had set them down and forgotten to pick them up again. My friend saw them first. We couldn't stop laughing. I'm sorry. I'm sure it's brilliant art by the brilliant Bethan Huws (I did enjoy her exhibit immensely), but I just couldn't help it. Three walnuts. I was inspired to display my own collection of three pineapples. I'm hoping to finish my three peanut work by spring.The museum also includes older paintings - including some by Rubens! I was in heaven. If you're in Maastricht, don't miss this museum!
BonnefantenmuseumTuesday-Sunday 11am - 5pmAdults: €7
From journal All Netherlands, All the Time