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Air-Object

©François Lauginie

Air-Object, 1966

Marinus Boezem
  • Artist (1934)

Marinus Boezem made his first artistic gesture in 1960, “exhibiting” a piece of polder as if it was one of his works: he created an arrangement presenting this panorama, and invited people to use it. In 1963, “discovering air as purification, as reality, as conquest of space”, Boezem started to develop an interest in all forms, objects, and phenomena which might be associated with it, such as wind and breathing. In 1965 he duly signed a fan, then imagined environments, like tables whose white cloths were lifted up by a fan. The fleeting nature of air led him to develop ephemeral art forms, and work on the issue of the dematerialization of the work. In 1969, he signed the sky, using the gases expelled by an airplane to write a name—his own—which disappeared as quickly as it was drawn. Boezem was then regarded as one of the leading representatives of the Conceptual Art and Arte Povera movements in the Netherlands, alongside Jan Dibbets and Ger van Elk. His actions were as ephemeral as they were airy and illustrated a strange power wielded by people over natural elements. Fascinated by the myths of Opheus and Icarus the artist questioned the connection between man and these basic natural elements, through the creation of complex environments incorporating air, light, and sound—not to say the human (L’uomo volante, 1979, performance). In 1978, Boezem came up with a grandiose project, a Green Cathedral erected in nature with the help of concrete paving and 178 Italian poplars; the project was executed in 1987. Bound to become a ruin, and lose its natural pillars, the green cathedral would thus remain, in spite of everything, visible because of its paving, flat on the ground. By gradually re-incorporating in his works lasting and almost everlasting materials, like granite, Boezem questions man’s viewpoint in the face of nature, an artificial, re-created nature.

Born in the Netherlands, Marinus Boezem took part in the exhibition Structures gonflables/Inflatable Structures at the City of Paris Museum of Modern Art in 1968, showing two Air-Sculptures and one Air-Structure, and he took part in the exhibition When Attitudes Become Forms (1969) at the Bern Kunsthalle. One of his most recent solo shows was A volo d’uccello at Middelburg in Holland (2010).