Jeroen Jongeleen is no stranger to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. The first thing the artist did when he moved to the city 13 years ago was to spray out a stencil that said ‘Home’ on a steel pole in front of the museum’s façade. The museum didn’t like this much. They prosecuted him.
Around a year later, when the year-long probation sentence this earned him had just finished, the Museum invited him to participate in a group exhibition. This was in 1999. The work he presented was called City Jewels, a piece, which like much of his work, encouraged a change in perspective.
By collecting the diamond like fragments of smashed car windows, Jongeleen took thug life and made it glimmer. There was no judgment on vandalism, but a simple twist to give the glass a second and third function: Could this common sight be beautiful? If the answer were yes, this awards some sort of value to the vandal act and at the same time disrupts the panic it may incite.
More reminiscent of the ‘Home’ stencil, during the opening of another artist, Jongeleen used a raft to arrive at the museum’s back garden, which is blocked off by a canal. Once back on land he began to plant a tree in the garden. Museum security thought it was a performance and nobody batted an eye until three years later when the tree was removed. The relationship between artist and museum became more intimate when Jongeleen was scratching his chin over how to pay the rent for his studio. Criminal, artist and now employee, Jongeleen was given a production job at the museum.
The group exhibition titled ‘Inside Job’, speaks of his relationship to the museum over the years, and it is a loving one.
Part of the museum’s freelance technical department, Jongeleen is not the only employee on museum books who uses this job to support artistic practice. In fact, today, a large portion of this team consists of artists with successful practices in the sense that collections, museums, biennials and critical media have recognized them. The exhibition features documentation of works, which have been installed in the museum by 18 artists who are also part of the technical team. This could only have been possible with a breach of trust. Nobody questioned why these artists were walking around the museum with drills or life preservers. It was not suspicious that they entered areas of the museum that the general public never gets to see.
Each participating artist made his or her own interventions. From a submarine that will never come up, to a glow in the dark jumbo chewing gum stuck beneath a desk in the cafeteria, or an ongoing sound installation looping the click clack song of technical production. The result is an interesting thematic collection, housed by a museum prior to the director’s knowledge. It is not very often that art enters a museum in this way, and usually when it does, there is an ensuing legal case. This time however, the museum will most likely not feel injured by the action. A survey of all the works included, demonstrates that this inside job was not a vicious one. There was no great attack on institution. Nobody placed a bomb or left a trace that would come attached with a clean up bill. All of the works, as serious as they may be, have a sense of play about them and each demonstrates a respect for the museum.
Jongeleen’s vision for this collection was to create something of a myth; a guerrilla intervention that becomes a permanent installation that could survive for as long as the museum itself. To realize this, the location of works was as critical as the works themselves and the exhibition has a strong minimalist approach.
Visitors to the museum and the general public at large will depend on documentation to see it, and after the show closes tomorrow, only have the chance to view the exhibition online. Unless of course, the museum were inclined to purchase the collection, recognize a moment when they supported artists as much as they supported the arts and find this vandal action of interest.
Ruud Goedhart , Stefan Gross, Ties Ten Bosch, Wietse Eeken, Marianne Fontein, Wouter Louman, Abner Preis, David Maroto, Jeroen Bosch, Leon Duenk, Marc Claeijs, Marc Muller, Ólafur Ólafsson, Max Wijlacker, Maziar Afrassiabi, Niels Wiese, Robert Knoop
By Harlan Levey
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