The man with his head above the parapet


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The man with his head above the parapet
2016, installation, ceramic 90 p (detail)
installation ceramics 90 p
Following the visit to the Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht.
The exhibition is based entirely on ceramics and is called Ceramix. The museum is located most appropriately on Avenue Céramique. We are welcomed by hundreds of fist-sized cockroaches forming a mountain on a wooden crate. The swarming creatures seem to have come out and spread all over the room, on the floor, piled along the skirting boards and against the walls. I find it fascinating, and do not think for a second how revolting it would be if they were real. The fact that something is made of ceramic directly negates any ideas of smell, odour and destruction. It is pottery, refined with a shiny brown layer of glaze and decorated with wire feet.
Another installation, on the floor, is by Robert Arneson. A man is swimming inside a metre triangle composed of well-matched amorphous glazed ceramic blocks. His head and arm show that it is a freestyle or front crawl. All kinds of subjects and techniques are up for discussion in the exhibition. Humans and animals, plants, organic forms, death and religion.
I enter a large gallery with five installations, four on the walls and one on the ground. The installation on the floor is a multitude of simple abstract terracotta shapes that are scattered in a large elongated eight or distorted oval, as if you could see the wind blowing a large amount of dry leaves around and draping them naturally. The work of the Mexican Gabriel Orozco consists of roof tiles and is entitled ‘Fish’. Heavy chains hang on the back wall. This is by the Frenchwoman Rachel Labastie. Her work is about physical and mental alienation and violence. It says, ‘Porcelain and Wrought Iron’. I keep wondering whether you can also make such metal objects out of ceramics. I walk on, slightly puzzling. There is something soothing about ceramics. The more horrible a scene is, the more realistically you try to make it; ceramics can quickly become a cartoon. Back home, the grass needed mowing. I had big plans, but at the same time, you should not stick your head above the parapet in the Netherlands, because ...
photo 2 Robert Arneson, Current Event 1973
photo 3 Gabriel Orozco, Fish 1993