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— urbantick

Book – Big Pieces of Time

The art collective Observatorium is creating Big Pieces and these art works are always about location and time. Usually time in the sense of ‘time out’ or simply resting.
They have now published a book with 010 Publishers covering the twelve of their installations they have realised in the past twelve years. As a side note, maybe we could also start speculating about te topic of time and the meaning of twelve as a number?
The book is ‘Big Pieces of Time : Observatorium‘.
As the work is described in the introduction, summarises most of the intentions: “Ideally, the sculpture will provide a focus, a point of arrival and of redirection; it gives the countryside or town a space and a symbol, something that invites and stimulates people into action or contemplation. If the art can accomplish anything, then it is above all to create time and space for attention – attention and curiosity towards the outside worlds, towards – the interior resonances we experience. It presents an environment that highlights the imponderability of the world around us.”
The twelve pieces are monumental and even by looking at the images in the book this can be felt. Take the project ‘Das Hallenhaus‘, a steel construction outlining a building. It is erected on a platform on top of a hill with beautiful views, a place to be.

Hallenhaus Observatorium
Image taken from stroom.nl / Image of the Hallenhaus.

It is a mazing how Observatorium manages to create this tension between place and context and everything without the salesman attitude of selling art. In fact art is the lat thing one think about while looking at this work presented in the book and I imagine this to be an even stronger aspect of the real live installations. There is something very natural, self explaining and normal to it.
This goes along with a statement by the art collective: “The work is not finished until someone uses it” (Observatorium on their project ‘Square for De LeiJ, Judical Juvenile Institution De Leij, Vught, 2003). One of the projects that beautifully demonstrates the process the art piece is involved after it is actually finished. How this project has changed with it being used is not disimilar from an other built work, be it architecture or landscaping.

The beauty about the book are the photographs documenting the work. Using the full format of the book an additional story is narrated with the images. In fact one could argue that this is a picture book book. As mentioned above the monumentality of the projects is captured beautifully, with a seriousness and a self-evidence rarely seen in project documentation. However this is mainly down to the monumentality of the installations and the other aspects of participation, community work, actual activity and action is harder to document. Cleverly here the text takes over this part and rounds the publication to a slow motion whale, a super-size book that brings you a time-out, time to recharge and enjoy. It is not about art but about the involvement, the possibilities and the dreams.

Big Pieces of Time, Cover
Image taken from the Observatorium blog / BIG PIECES OF TIME – Observatorium, Designed by Karelse & Den Besten, English, 288 pp / 326 x 240 mm / hardcover, price € 39.50, ISBN 978 90 6450 680 2.

de Camp, G., Dekker, A. & Reutelingsperger, R., 2010. Observatorium: Big Pieces of Time, Rotterdam: 010 Publishers.