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Blik

In most cases, circumstances outside the regular art circuit emphatically differ from those inside. Over the last years, I have drawn attention to the importance of art for real social situations. To find a way and make an artistic statement in this area has largely become my goal; my urge to mingle with affairs is too great to simply be satisfied with following the artistic conventions of autonomous art and the gallery. De Vleeshal in Middelburg has invited me to display this very attitude within its gallery walls.*
In such paradoxical circumstances I don’t want to do the obvious thing and abuse the museum as sanctuary for the kind of social engagement which would be without substance anywhere else; no ‘l’engagement-pour-l’engagement’. I want to view and reveal the museum in a conventional way, as a place in the city for artworks, but also investigate how this position allows it to take a political stand.
Nine scale-models, as one might call them, address different aspects of the town of Middelburg. Particularly, they focus attention on the effects of the post-war historicising restoration of the centre of town, which was destroyed during the second World War, and on the contiguous municipal policies.
‘blik’ (‘tin’) is the title of this exhibition, which draws up an image of the city as only art can make. I hope it can serve as a model for the way art can engage with politics.


Source: Hans van Houwelingen, subsidy application, Dutch Fund for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture, Amsterdam 1996
    *In ‘Blik’, Hans van Houwelingen provides a vision which can be read as a correction of the politically cherished self-image of the town. He depicts aspects pertaining to its living history, such as the bombardments at the start of the Second World War, and aspects which determine the town’s place today, such as the threat of the sea, its touristic image and the struggle with its own development. The means he uses for this are drawn from the idiom of visual art, advertising, public information and the theme parc. By his montage of these means and by mixing them with autobiographic elements, the ‘Blik’ exhibition is testimony of an artistic experience of the town. And in its presentation, a proposal to reformulate the given (political and artistic) models.
    Source: Exhibition press bulletin by Lex ter Braak, director, De Vleeshal, 1996