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Groninger Museum presents Daan Roosegaarde's Presence; where the visitor makes the exhibition

Before walking into Daan Roosegaarde's new exhibition, I read the following: "Touching? Yes, please!" I take another good look at the sign, because you don't usually associate those words with a museum visit. At Daan Roosegaarde's exhibition Presence however, it is a prerequisite. The artist would like you to touch and experience his art. For me, this was easier said than done, as 'not touching' is so much in my system. However, at the end of the exhibition, I played football with the Lola balls and went 'belly-sliding' through the star chamber.

Giving a description of Daan Roosegaarde exhibition is difficult, because you really have to experience it. Nevertheless, I make an attempt to Presence come into its own with words. A word of advice in advance: should you Daan Roosegaarde-Presence go experience, please put on (clean) socks, as no shoes are allowed!

Interactive beauty

Presence is one interactive artwork that Daan Roosegaarde developed on behalf of the Groninger Museum. It is his first exhibition in a museum. The result is a luminous landscape in the various connecting spaces. Each with its own unique technologies and features. It is a dream landscape where you are the temporary architect. For the exhibition, Daan Roosegaarde took the concept of the ecological footprint and man's impact on the earth as inspiration. Presence. The visitor makes the exhibition. Without me, nothing happens. I give (temporary) form to it. Just as my presence has consequences on and for the earth.

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One learns by doing

Roosegaarde ingeniously demonstrates this. Playfully. The feeling that you can be a child for a moment. The longer you enter Roosegaarde's world of disorienting, dark spaces with luminous technologies that stimulate your senses to the limit, the greater the desire to stay there. You don't want to leave this world. This also became subconsciously clear to me, when I was even reminded at the end of the exhibition not to forget to bring my shoes.

Fortunately, the tour was given by Daan Roosegaarde himself, because in Presence's first space you look around and don't quite know what to make of it. Big, white rectangular blocks and a light scanning the space from front to back. Daan Roosegaarde urges you to place your hand on one of the blocks. When the light 'scans' you and you see your handprint appear, you understand. You find yourself in a copy machine.

As a visitor, you experience the different perspectives in the exhibition. Balls of various sizes, which remind you of the galaxy, wait patiently to be touched. This, of course, is what happens. After Roosegaarde enthusiastically throws himself on one of the largest 'moons' to leave his imprint, everyone happily follows his example. Hands. Feet. Bodies. A satisfied expression follows as you see your impact gradually appear.

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Night beach

Roosegaarde's favourite space is completely empty. As a visitor, you walk in and look around. Suddenly, a flash of light appears! On the white wall you see yourself; a silhouette. Your presence has been noticed. My personal favourite space was the 'star chamber'. It made me feel like I was on a luminous beach. The rustling of the wind, both in feeling and sound, and waves of large out-sized Styrofoam beads characterise the dark space. Various playful ideas shoot through my mind; I wade through the waves and let the grains slide through my fingers. It is even possible to take a nose dive. Obviously not the deep one. Brilliant! Once I got home, I found stray grains in the various spots. That's just part of the job.

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You make the exhibition. Visitors leave a temporary imprint in and on the exhibition, but Presence leaves an indelible impression on visitors.

Good to know Good to know
Daan Roosegaard- Presence can be seen until 12 January 2020.

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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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