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“Every place has its own story.” We give those stories a voice, a form.” With conceptual art in public spaces, the Rotterdam-based collective Observatorium creates surprising perspectives on the familiar places around us. “Sometimes you need art to open your mind.” No surprise that Ruud Reutelingsperger, Andre Dekker, Geert van de Camp and Lieven Poutsma has chosen to work with water for Bosch Parade. 

They can rightly be called Gesamtkunstwerken, the projects in which Observatorium merges sculpture, architecture and art installation. Lieven Poutsma explains: “That has to do with our backgrounds; we come from very diverse backgrounds: visual art, architecture, literature and education. Each project starts with a journey of exploration. We deliberate for hours on what we want to say, associate endlessly and an idea concept slowly emerges. And then suddenly: yes! We have found the inspiration we were looking for.”

This is also how the idea for their Bosch Parade creation was born. Lieven: “Water has always inspired us, especially the transformation of places along the water. Many cities have long lived with their backs to the rivers, while they are now embracing the water again. Meanwhile, prosperity, mobility, food production and tourism are causing those rivers to change, to pollute – and that water itself has no say in that. We wanted to give water a voice so that people are touched by it. And we are moved to deal with it better.”

The four came up with an image of a speaking hole in the water: The voice of the water. Lieven: “That seemed fantastic to us, a mysterious object floating on the water that says something about itself.” Coming up with the right shape for that, however, required some research. Lieven: “We always look for what an object should evoke, for a form language that is as clear as possible. In other words, the right material and the right look. A process of sculpting.”

The voice of the water has since found its form. But many challenges still await. Lieven: “So now we are now figuring out what the water will say. But also what kind of voice it should be. Mysterious? Or clear? Will there also be sounds, music? We also discuss this with Aart Strooman, the composer of Bosch Parade. So it remains uncertain what The voice of the water will tell us. For us too.”

Video gemaakt door Donna van West