The Lustwarande: ‘Do they call that art? My little brother can do that as well’
Every year, the Warandebos transforms into a huge open-air museum filled with works of art. Besides all the modern artworks on display, Univers editor Anne Grefkens especially enjoys her fellow visitors: ‘Their favorite walking route has been transformed into an open-air museum. And for some, that takes some getting used to.’
Modern art combined with high temperatures. Not the best combination for everyone. On a hot summer day, who would prefer looking at art rather than going to the beach? For me it is slightly different because I love to dream away while looking at all kinds of works of art. So one warm afternoon in September, I put on my walking shoes and decide to visit the Warandebos. Every year, this place turns into the Lustwarande, a big open-air museum full of works of art.
I did not find out in advance what was on display, but with the exhibition Eartheaters, I was in luck. Because in addition to the extraordinary works of art, it is the other visitors who make sure I have a great time. I suspect that most of them do not even come to the exhibition on purpose but are surprised on the spot. Their favorite walking route has been transformed into an open-air museum overnight. And for some, that takes some getting used to.
Herman the dog
Right at the first work of art that comes my way, I am confronted with such an unwitting visitor. Unsuspecting, I look at a large, steel structure. As I wonder if the artwork is supposed to represent a futuristic lamppost, I see something approaching me from the corner of my eye. Step by step it approaches and before I realize it, I am knocked over.
‘Herman, come here!’ I hear a woman call to her dog from afar. Herman, the wire-haired dachshund playing deaf that has just knocked me down, decides to ignore his owner.
Instead, he rushed to the artwork and lifted his hind leg. Apparently, a golden jet was all that was missing.
With a blush on her cheeks, she puts her doggie back on a leash. In something resembling an apology, she mutters, ‘Herman! Bad boy, you can’t pee on that.’
Herman does not understand, normally he is allowed to pee against a lamppost, right? With his half-open mouth, flapping ears, and wagging tail, he looks back with satisfaction. That crazy lamppost now belongs to his territory, and few dogs can say that.
Herman and his owner are not the only ones who ignore the unwritten rules of visiting an (open-air) museum. A group of Tilburg schoolchildren are also somewhat out of line with their behavior. With a mandatory school assignment in their pockets, they venture into the forest with its works of art. But despite their ‘lively’ presence, the school assignment somewhat misses the mark.
‘Do they call this art?’ says one of the students with raised eyebrows. ‘My little brother can do that as well. All he needs is a few boards and a big dog bowl’. Secretly, it makes me laugh a little. Their honest and unfiltered response is refreshing, and while the assignment doesn’t fuel their enthusiasm for modern art, at least they do seem to be developing their argumentative skills.
Despite the fact that the artwork provokes surprise among the pupils, they decide to include it in their art files anyway. ‘Let’s just pick this one, then we can get to McDonalds faster,’ one of them argues. ‘Just don’t forget to take a selfie with that thing! That’s mandatory,’ sighs another. ‘Fine, but I’ll take a selfie of my sneakers. Because my hair look awful.’
And just as quickly as they arrived, the schoolchildren are off again. On their way to McDonalds where ice-cold McFlurrys are waiting for them. Secretly, I am a bit jealous.
The art club
I continue my way to the next work of art on the route. There, too, I appear not to be the only one present. This time, there are no dogs or schoolchildren, but four art lovers have gathered around a work of art. They are the type of people who visit a museum exhibition or exposition more often.
Fervently, I hear a woman wearing a pearl necklace give an explanation of the work. The others—busy frowning and pondering—take in the facts. According to the lady, the work is a representation of the ‘Anthropocene’ and ‘post-humanist’ body of thought.
Two members of the art club know immediately what she means by that and nod in agreement. Another member, on the other hand, looks puzzled. He does not seem to understand what she means. So as not to make a poor showing, he decides to keep quiet.
I, too, find it quite a task to figure out the meaning of the artwork. To be honest, the orange work with its tubes and handles reminds me more of a torture device than a work of art. ‘I have to sleep on this for another night,’ the silent man finally says bravely to the rest of the art club. I sympathize with him because the same goes for me. I may even have to sleep on it for a week.
The arty glasses and the tree trunk
With over seven thousand footsteps under my belt, I decide to look at one more work of art. When arriving at a work that resembles a large, gray globe, my eye catches an unusual couple. The woman is wearing remarkably large, red arty glasses and is busy with her photo camera. ‘Darling, a little more to the left please,’ she asks her husband who is acting as a photo model.
Not exactly bursting with enthusiasm, the man takes a step aside. I imagine that, that morning, his art-loving partner begged him to go with her. He clearly has no interest whatsoever in art and finds it hard to stay focused. However, he does have a keen eye for a comfortable place to sit. After his wife has finally shot the perfect picture of him, he rushes to a fallen tree trunk to sit in the shade.
Despite the fact that her husband is sitting meters away, the woman with the arty glasses does not let herself off the hook. ‘Beautiful, isn’t it?’ she asks her husband hopefully. He answers her question with a yawn of disinterest.
After a few minutes, she gives up. The couple leaves hand in hand toward the exit. I walk behind them, as my visit is also over. ‘Shall we drive to the beach for a while? he finally asks. ‘Good idea,’ she replies.
Translated by Language Center, Riet Bettonviel