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“What if you think of a boat as a body?” Yip Geert Stals and Lesse Melijn van der Veer share a fascination for the human body. They know each other from ArtEZ, the art academy in Arnhem, and are now working together for Bosch Parade on their Benenboot – supported by the Kunstenaars Ontwikkel Platform (KOP), a support programme for young artists.

Yip: “How do you tackle it? And: what what kind of problems do you encounter? Surely those are the questions most often asked.” Besides Yip and Lesse, Bosch Parade selected four more young artists who are now being supported by KOP. Lesse: “With the people from KOP and the other artists, we discuss how to realise our ideas. But also all kinds of practical matters. Time planning, for example. Or how to work with volunteers. We attended a workshop at an art collective in Rotterdam. And we make trips. Most recently to a shipyard in Antwerp and to Zoro Feigl’s workshop. We use all this acquired knowledge for our Benenboot.”    

The idea for their Benenboot arose over a year ago. Yip: “We are both very interested in the human body and wondered what a boat would look like if it moved like a human. Would it walk? Or swim? But how then? We ended up with breaststroke, which turned out to be the most interesting way, it has something animal-like.” Lesse: “So that meant we had to make legs, to move forward. But we also discovered that we needed something to steer or brake: arms. By constantly trying out all kinds of things, it became clear what works and what doesn’t.”

That search started with wood, later with bamboo. Yip: “Now we are working on the final version, made of steel. And that’s kind of exciting: twelve metres long, weighing several hundred kilos – neither of us had ever made anything this big before. Moreover, this is not only a work of art, it is also a vessel, an object of use. That combination makes it very interesting. And challenging.” Lesse: “And also the whole production process is different from what we are used to. Because of that support from KOP. But also, for example, because we will be working with volunteers. They help us sand and paint the boat – you have to prepare for something like that. So making sure everyone has something to do. And that there is enough food. That’s something you rarely deal with as an artist in your studio.”

Right now, the Benenboot is being prepared for launch, with the float test to follow in a fortnight. Yip: “Very exciting. The first two versions did fine, this steel version is a different story. But we are counting on there being enough balance in it, that it will float, move forward, brake. That the legs will do their job.”