This is going to be a surprise. I wander with Merel through the spaces around her studio, caves full of iron, machine parts, household effects, tools and other paraphernalia that is no longer recognisable. They are her treasure troves. Eventually, as she knows and constantly demonstrates, this material will be used to create a new sculpture, preferably one that moves. She shows me the sculptures that are coming to Bredelar, each of them in a dismantled (and sometimes hopelessly deplorable) state, and cheerfully remarks: 'at least you've seen the material'.
After all, it's all about the material. How many more times will I hear that during my visits to all those sculptors' studios?
Nevertheless, when you look at Merel's photos of The organ of judgement, you won't recognise those treasure troves. On the contrary, the parts are tailor-made, carefully derusted, welded, filed and painted, have a uniform size and are, above all, functional. I hope it will be a machine that makes loud noises, because I have a special place for it in that beautiful, renovated, deafeningly silent monastery. I can already imagine how it will be - you turn the wheel and the hammers are lifted above the square tubing. And then? What sound do those tubes make, arranged in such an orderly and precise formation? How long are the intervals between one sound and the next? Are there also moments when they sound together? Do they create harmony, a chord? When I ask her, Merel just smiles mysteriously and I can tell she's thinking: 'just you wait and see'.
After visiting the monastery in Bredelar, she suggested another sculpture, which will be placed outside. The thing that has had enough and buries itself Is it strange that this sculpture reminds me of Robin Kolleman's Attica, which will be on display in the same exhibition? Both the title and the wings remind me of it and I realise that the exhibition will be a new context in which the sculptures will react to each other. They are no longer alone, but instead work together to create the whole exhibition, which can be read as a poem in which every word and each line acquires a new meaning, while creating an unexpected whole.
The thing that has had enough and buries itself, 2011, Metal, foil and rope -
L x w x h = approx.300 x 300 x 140 cm
I have to add that I'm not writing that poem myself, nor am I writing it alone. The artists create the sculptures and the sculptures form relationships with each other, as well as with the spirit of the times (whatever that might be) and the meeting in the monastery, the ruins, the atmosphere of the past and the current region. But then let it be borne by presence. The thing that has had enough should not bury itself so deeply that it becomes invisible.
Is that not why these sculptures are part of this exhibition? Were they not created to bring these quiet grounds back to life? Does the artist possibly have a special message that she wants to convey with her artworks, a judgement about the Bredelar Monastery or has she had enough of the monastery? Does she expressly take the side of the iron industry, which has been established here for centuries? The sculptures will tell us when they eventually go on display there in the summer. What an adventure...