Sunday, November 29, 2009


  5 ROOMS 
Jasper Niens
Doors give entrance to spaces and as such they have a practical function. They also form the connection between two spaces, between inside and outside (sometimes literally, sometimes inside in one space and outside in the other) and thus other meanings appear, in particular those of a ritual nature: going from one space to another can also be interpreted metaphorically as a rite de passage, as a transition between two stages of life, an element in the search for knowledge and finding fulfilment.

Jasper Niens' work 5 ROOMS, which was specially created for Nada Miami (previous works by his hand were for instance shown at the Haags Gemeentemuseum and on the Art Forum Berlin 09), provides the observer with the opportunity – using several doors – to enter four different spaces that are all connected to at least one other space. These spaces are all empty; there is nothing to be seen. Usually spaces have a function, but these spaces are consciously functionless and every passage, every rite de passage, seems to lead from nothing to nowhere. There is no obligatory or preferable walking route, nothing is fixed. When going from one space to another, we expect to find something over there, and at an art fair that could for instance be one or more works of art, but there is no response to that expectation. That conjures up the idea that the architecture itself could be the work of art and that is partly true. 

I would say that the ar chitecture, including the doors, creates the conditions for a work of art, and that the actual work is partly brought about due to the contributions of the visitor (as in fact every work of art only becomes a work of art when it is communicated, when there is an observer). Then the meaning shifts and the experience of the spaces and the behaviour of the visitor in the whole become the actual complete work. 

. To that extent, this work is also a statement about its own context and environment, with which it holds an ambivalent relationship. There where almost 'everything' is shown, 'nothing' – the emptiness – takes on a polemic meaning: he who wants to see everything cannot concentrate on anything properly and mainly experiences sensory confusion, mitigated by cognitive recognition and reassurance. 

In that sense, Niens' work is confrontational and that applies to his complete oeuvre, which addresses and questions the daily conventions of experiences and behaviour in ever changing ways, so that it becomes obvious that what we consider to be a given, is in effect not necessarily a matter of course.