A few months ago I moved into a new apartment in my old neighborhood. For the most part things hadn’t changed much over the past 2 years. The most obvious change being the new building on 1e Constantijn Huygenstraat, that replaced the one previously occupied by Smart Projects.
Architecturally, I find the building unimpressive. Red brick, glass, yada, yada, yada. Other than those bold strokes, I never paid much attention to it. I’m usually more concerned with navigating safely through the maze of cyclists, cars, and pedestrians on the poorly designed bike path. I suppose this is why it took me so long to notice that there was something hanging off the roof of the building.
At first I thought it was scaffolding, but then I realized it couldn’t be. Ladders? No. Actually, yes.
But why so many? And why is there one hanging off the building?
Wait, what’s that at the top of the ladder? Ah. That’s it. Art. Public art.
Initially thinking that it was the work of an anonymous sculpture having a bad day, I discovered, thanks to a plaque on the street, that the artist was anything but anonymous. Here is the text, as it appears:
The sculpture How to meet an Angel deals about hope, support, and the gradual process towards recovery. The figure stands on the highest rung of the ladder, with baggage on his back and arms wide open, looking towards the sky. Ready to leave the clinic, embrace the city and possibly meet a guardian angel.
How to Meet an Angel is charitably designed by the renowned Russian-American artists Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, at the request of Mentrum and developed by SKOR (Foundation Art and Public Space), and has been made financially possible by SKOR, Stadsdeel Oud-West and the Amsterdams Fond voor Kunst. The work of art is specially created for this building: a clinic for psychiatric clients and people with serious psychological problems.
There’s just something about that last sentence. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me.
That Public Art cuts both ways! “psychological problems”?… more looks more like the dude is getting ready to meet his Maker! So much for recovery.