There is not one way to look at an artwork and in Play Van Abbe Part 4 visitors are literally invited to play a certain role; that of the pilgrim, the tourist, the flaneur and the worker. The way in which you will experience the museum and its art will depend on your role. Roles aren’t fixed, visitors are free to change them during their visit. The choice of works in the exhibition is based on the Van Abbemuseum’s collection supplemented by a number of key loans.
In the fourth part of Play Van Abbe, the museum focuses on the criteria that visitors often use to make judgements about art. These criteria have become more complex and uncertain over the last years and are certainly no longer limited to the old measures of beauty and truth.
The title of the exhibition describes possible roles that a museum visitor can play when looking at an artwork or exhibition. Each of these roles experiences the museum in a different way and each will have their own ‘tools’ to explore the museum. Roles are never fixed and visitors can change them during their visit, or revisit rooms in a new character. Neither do they represent a hierarchy of experience and, in fact, each might be said to fill in the lack in the others.
Walking a private, spiritual road, the pilgrim seeks enlightenment through contemplative observation. Texts and objects are continuous reinforcements of the pilgrim’s belief. Consequently, the journey itself becomes as significant as the destination.
Taking a break from the daily routine, the tourist looks for the experiential and the unusual. The tourist mostly enjoys those things declared by the guidebook as ‘authentic’, and understands the essence of things back home by exploring new environments.
Wandering about with no declared aim, the flaneur is open to everything while committing to nothing. Never belonging, always distant from reality and using encounters to illustrate own internal narratives.
The worker is up for the challenge. Involved and engaged he figures out reality via action and production.
The roles are not meant to clarify whether something is good or bad art, but open up new perspectives for a visitor on the artworks, the exhibition and the museum as a public place for experience and exchange.
In order to assist visitors on their journey, there will be a number of ‘game masters’ in the museum. They will guide each role and help with orientation and giving feedback.
In the Oudbouw (old building) of the museum the symmetry of the architecture has been exploited to construct a three-dimensional mandala in which visitors are taken on a journey through a landscape of artworks about individual and collective social experience. Works are on show by Ulay / Abramović, Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, James Lee Byars, Hamish Fulton, Douglas Gordon, Jenny Holzer, Anselm Kiefer, Richard Long, Oliver Ressler, and others.
On the ground floor of the Nieuwbouw (new building) the exhibition continues, following a parcours that resembles a stroll through an unknown city. Visitors in their various roles can stay on the street or take a look behind the facades to discover more intimate and private artworks. Works by Sarah Charlesworth, Robert Delauney, Erwin van Doorn & Inge Nabuurs, Barry Flanagan, Surasi Kusolwong, Katharina Sieverding, Andy Warhol and Yang Zhengzhong, amongst others.