this way brouwn
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
This work by the artist Stanley Brouwn, who originates from Surinam, consists of a white piece of paper, no larger than 25 x 33 cm, with a few black lines on it. Two horizontal lines, two vertical lines and a circle were sketched. At the top of the paper, there is a word: “hoogstraal”, though this is more likely to be “hoogstraat”. It is not easy to make out the word exactly. At the bottom of the paper, the words THIS WAY BROUWN have been printed on the paper with a stamp.
The central theme in Brouwn’s work is concerned with bridging and measuring distances. In his early work he focused strongly on interacting with the public and asked passers-by to create a route or to leave footprints behind on sheets of paper. For Brouwn these works revealed the concepts of distance and direction. From the early 1970s he made works which were the result of counting footsteps taken within a particular time frame in a particular place or in a particular direction. He recorded the ratios between time, space, distance and direction very precisely, and emphasized the everyday nature of walking. In 1971 he wrote: “It is not impossible, it is even very likely that I will be able to summarize all the projects which I will carry out during my lifetime under a single title, viz. the following: Man walks the planet earth.”
For 'this way brouwn' he addressed arbitrary passers-by on the street and asked them to describe and outline a particular route. There are several versions of 'this way brouwn'. They are very different because they were drawn by different people. Brouwn did not make a selection and every drawing is equally good. He thought of the starting point and someone else carried it out. The idea on which the artwork is based is therefore more important than its execution. Because of this way of working, Brouwn’s work is classified as Conceptual Art.
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