EuraSiAn gArDeN SpiritS

Oita Prefectural Art Museum, 2015

Exhibition | Art | Installation | Surface Patterns

The Eurasian Garden Spirits is a site-specific installation by Marcel Wanders, for the Oita Prefectural Art Museum, a building by Shigeru Ban opened April 24th 2015. Inspired by the historical narrative of Dutch explorers first arriving in Japan in the 16th century, this artwork symbolizes the cultural union and exchange between Holland and Japan. Placed five meters high, balloons are rooted by weights and gently move with the wind. Each balloon depicts a unique flower patterned face. 'The Eurasian Garden Spirits' is also a contemporary re-interpretation of vanitas, a 17th century conception in Dutch painting that gained world-wide renown. The subject of mortality is present in the faces, while the flowers remind us of nature's cycle and the passage of time. Inflated with air, the balloons are both an homage to the free spirits of the original travelers brought back to life, and to Dutch ideas spreading throughout the world. The air and wind depict breathing to evoke liveliness, an "open-minded" attitude at the core of Dutch mentality, as well as a new reading of the colonial age, as a two-way permeable cultural exchange.