Miscellaneous Exits for Smaller Animals
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 corridor-like construction by the Dutch artist Aernout Mik consists of a floor, two short walls and a long wall. The floor is covered in grey linoleum, while the walls are papered with white wallpaper with long horizontal scratches. The whole thing is attached to a wall of the exhibition space, 50 cm above the ground. At each end of the “corridor” there is a door and there are five door openings in the long wall. Two of these contain a double door, the others a single door. There is also a separate door against the long wall. The front of the construction is formed by a snapped aluminium tube and a dislocated aluminium frame, part of which has windowpanes. Some of the panes are broken and a piece of glass has been placed over them. A number of distorted brackets connect the top of the back wall to the front of the floor. There are some white cushions lying on the floor, partly on top of, or against each other.
There are traces of violence and repair in the “corridor”. In this context, the soft cushions evoke a sense of suffication rather than any pleasant associations. They obstruct the way to the exits. The “miscellaneous exits” are partly false exits: behind some of the doors there is another door. Furthermore, the doors of the long wall do not provide an exit because they open onto the wall of the exhibition space. 'Miscellaneous Exits for Smaller Animals' is reminiscent of a prison or a psychiatric institution; a place where people who not observe the generally accepted rules of society are imprisoned, usually against their will.
Arnout Mik is interested in human behaviour, particularly in the tension between what is considered normal and what is not. To what extent should people submit to particular codes of conduct or break them down? In his work, Mik raises these questions for the viewer. He does this by presenting an image which on the one hand can be recognized, but also gives a sense that something is not right. In 'Miscellaneous Exits for Smaller Animals' the relationship between the cushions and the corridor with doors is not right. The doors are too small for a person. In fact, they are meant for “smaller animals”, but the cushions, which are actually too large, do not indicate that this is the home of animals. The whole work is somewhere in between a model and a construction of human size.
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