This wonderful place called sleep. I step, fully conscious, inside the exhibition of Ugo Rondinone in Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam. It is a life-size installation of colors, rainbows, and sleeping clowns, and I feel like I’m one element of it when I walk around. The guy with the camera also looks like he’s a part of it, as he sits among the clowns taking pictures. And that girl, lying next to them taking selfies. The funny thing is, my mind clears and a strange feeling of silent peace comes over me after spending a while. That is what 45 sleeping clowns do to my brain today, and I like it. I hope you will experience this unique exhibition if you can. Otherwise, be inspired with these photos for now.
Spotify tip while reading this post:
Rainbows and sleeping clowns: is this art?
Is it art to fill a large hall with 45 dolls wearing clown outfits? To put fuzzy rainbows on the walls and dangle a giant light bulb from the ceiling? Many people will tell you that their little sister could assemble this, too. And therefore, it can’t be real art.
But why would it not be? Art is art when it represents part of the world. And the idea of Ugo Rondinone is to offer a different way of looking at diversity, hence the rainbows and the colors. It shows a different way of thinking about happiness and sadness, too, with the sad-looking clowns in their colorful clothing. As you spend a while among the clowns, you find out what it does to you at this exact moment. I find out that I’m pretty happy today, as I only see some quieting melancholy and it doesn’t make me feel sad at all. I can imagine I would take it a little heavier on some other days.
The exhibition is a representation of a part of our emotions that we don’t often allow to be. We much rather feel shiny and happy or, at least, present ourselves that way on Instagram.
The introduction movie of the exhibition shows how damn hard it is to create these clowns in a way that they look exactly like human beings. The right size, the right proportions, the right texture, they look so realistic. Wasn’t that what the old masters wanted their paintings to look like, realistic? Same goal, same outcome. It’s just a different material!
Is all that what your little sister could create?
How to look at rainbows and clowns
Whatever you do, don’t feel pressured to “get” all the messages in the exhibition. Let the feeling go of having got anything useful to say afterwards. Just as well, let the idea go that this is bullocks. That it’s not really art or that it is childish. Your goal is to enjoy your day right? Why not just enjoy the fact that there are 45 giant clowns here scattered over the floor with rainbows on the wall? Release your inner child and just laugh about it. If you should “get” anything from this exhibition, Uno Rondinone would like you to take this thought: look around like children do. Just let it be what it is and laugh, without caring much about what all this means. Your smart enough to have aaaall those thoughts after the show anyway, so let them go just now.
Who is Ugo Rondinone?
Ugo Rondinone is an artist from Switzerland, yet he lives and works in New York. He uses a broad array of materials to create his art: from foam to video and everything in between. His art often dances wildly on the overlapping area between crazy happiness and sheer sadness, leaving it to the viewers where on the spectrum they are that day.
As the introduction video of the exhibition shows, Ugo Rondinone is a perfectionist. Every element, each clown, every single rainbow, is exactly where he had them planned beforehand. You can be sure that every exhibition you see of him is a carefully thought-through installation.