City cocoon of Florentine Hofman

by Charlotte Martens 02.08.2021
photo Aad Hoogendoorn

Artist Florentijn Hofman placed a cocoon amid the clean lines of Gothic architecture: like that of a caterpillar. This shape is clearly visible when you city ​​cocoon from the outside: a strange and contrasting green shape that fits exactly into the nave of the gigantic church. Who is artist Florentijn Hofman and what kind of art does he make? How does he live? And why did he make a green one city ​​cocoon?

Florentijn Hofman (Delfzijl, 1977) lives and works in Arnhem and it was in Schiedam where he took his first steps in the art world after graduating from the art academy in Kampen and the Kunsthochschule in Berlin. That did not go unnoticed. In 2003 he painted the Overschieseweg, from the station to the city center, in a golden yellow color. He called it Yellow Brick Road, a reference to the Wizard of Oz. He said about it at the time:' […] Schiedam now has his Yellow Brick Road, which – as the legend goes – leads to fame and fortune. […] The Overschiesestraat now shines as if it were made of gold.' A short time later he came to the center of Rotterdam with the artwork Beech blue. He painted the facades of a row of demolished buildings in a bright blue colour: a simple intervention that made the site visible and thus provided a powerful commentary on the theme of urban renewal. The work was on display for two years, between 2004 and 2006.

Thinking big, working with recognizable images and sometimes funny interventions, it would become his trademark. Florentijn Hofman is best known for his 26 meter high Rubber ducky that floated over the world's seas. He launched this work in France in 2007, and then traveled around the world in various variations. With this Rubber ducky and works that followed, Hofman became world famous. He made a Fat Monkey (2010) of 10.000 colored slippers in Brazil, in 2014 a wooden one over 21 meters long Hippopo Thames in the Thames in London and another in China in 2021 selfie panda with 3,5 million hairs of steel wire. In 2020, the also arose on the outskirts of Rotterdam Forest fox, a 10 meter high and 16 meter long fox that mischievously robs a plastic bag from the nearby market in its mouth. The works seem to appear 'just like that' in the cityscape. Yet the work has everything to do with the specific place. The image, the materials and often subtle details refer to themes or properties that are current in that place.

In city ​​cocoon different things come together: Florentijn Hofman's sense of scale, looking at the environment with new eyes and, last but not least: fun! In Schiedam he is taking a new step. It is Hofman's first large-scale installation in an indoor space. And the first inflatable work you can get in. Moreover, he adds a spiritual experience to it, or at least tries to create the conditions for it. you go the city ​​cocoon without entering the church, you can address yourself here and thus experience yourself as it were. Hofman does not focus on religion, but questions and challenges the visitor to come to himself and find the strength from your own existence and thereby walk his own path. That fits in with his personal development as an artist and the time in which we live.

Who the city ​​cocoon steps in, enters the church without seeing or feeling it. You lose your orientation in space and discover the greatness. A specially composed organ soundscape is part of the artwork and enhances the experience. The piece was created by the artist in collaboration with composer Jasper Le Clercq and is played by the Schiedam city organist Arjen Leistra. The piece of music lasts all day, is sometimes barely audible or even completely silent, and at other times swells to overwhelming organ sounds. A church has always been a place where people, based on the Christian faith, look for reflection. Florentine Hofman sees his city ​​cocoon as an 'equalizer', with the same goal. In the city ​​cocoon are you not poor or rich, young or old, left or right, Christian or Muslim. You are above all human.

A cocoon refers to the metamorphosis that takes place in nature: a caterpillar that changes into a butterfly first stays in its cocoon for a while. With the city ​​cocoon Florentijn Hofman also envisions a metamorphosis. In miniature, if you have been inside, you will literally and figuratively look at the world through a green haze. But also on a large scale: we are stepping out of a period of corona very carefully. And who knows even bigger: we are ready for change, a different way of dealing with the world. You don't have to do anything for that, you don't have to have any special thoughts for it, you don't have to have a goal with it either. All it takes is to let your senses run wild and observe and feel. You will also experience the space of the church building differently and be more surprised by the natural light in the cocoon. So that you eventually walk out with a fresh look and look at your surroundings differently.


city ​​cocoon by Florentijn Hofman can be visited from 5 June to 12 September 2021 in the Sint Janskerk in Schiedam. Admission is free, make a reservation right here a time slot. Visit here the interactive city ​​cocoon, don't forget to click the drone in the church room.

 

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