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Artist Bart Eysink Smeets never makes anything new. “I try to make people look at what is already there,” he says. And even that statement is not his own. “I read it somewhere once.” During Bosch Parade ’24, Bart allows an ordinary picturesque sailboat to sail along. Propelled by a huge fan on a heavy motorboat behind it. “If people want something, it will happen. For better or worse.”

“There are so many weird things happening in the world. I try to magnify those and show them.” Everyday reality provides Bart Eysink Smeets with plenty of inspiration for his curious artworks. For instance, he once repatriated a boulder from Borger in the Dutch province of Drenthe to Finland, 200,000 years after the fact. And he went in search of his doppelgängers, among eight billion people on earth. 

Bosch Parade ’24’s theme, Contemporary Demons, ties in nicely with this fascination with the mundane. Indeed, according to Bart, the modern tormentor is not a coronavirus or tsunami, does not come from China or space. “The demons we really suffer from are within ourselves. It’s our behaviour. And our ability to bend the world to our will, one way or another. Surfing in a wave pool, for example. Or sunbathing under a solarium. I enjoy showing those behaviours and incongruities. So people will become aware of them and start wondering: what kind of weird constructions are we actually coming up with?”

According to Bart, to convey that message, a clear image is important. “My artwork has to play with the world around us. Hence that idea of a sailboat with a fan behind it. Mechanised sailing, and spoiling a normal tranquil setting with a smelly generator – there is an immediate contradiction, something that makes an impact. And it makes people think. How? I leave that up to them. There are already too many artworks that want to explain or be complete. They put people off. They say: I don’t understand this, I’m clearly not an art lover. What I want to show is something that everyone can understand in their own way.” 

The first tests, on dry land, are now behind us. Bart: “It works, the fan produces an enormous wind. Whether it is enough to beat the real wind, I don’t know yet. But that too has its own particular beauty: despite all the technology, feeling insignificant in the face of the great elements of nature. Then, too, I show what is already there.” 

Documentaries about Bart’s work:


Video made by Donna van West