Yesterday I visited Marinus Boezem’s Étude Gothique at the Kunstlinie Almere, where Rheims Cathedral’s ground plan has been delineated in birdseed. It was also a happy reunion that started last March at Amsterdam’s Oudekerk. Here, I filmed and photographed The Weather, a performance involving his weather map projections and cello music by Frances-Marie Uitti.
In the 1980s, Marinus worked on several major projects where landscape plays an important role. His greatest and most important work from this period is The Green Cathedral (1978–1987), which Étude Gothique is based on. For The Green Cathedral, 174 Italian poplars were planted in a polder landscape in Flevoland. The trees reproduce the ground plan of Rheims Cathedral. Much of Boezem’s spatial work can be located in the tradition of Land Art, and motifs such as landscape, space, climate, light, air and cartography play a central role in this work.
A related piece, the 1979 performance L’Uomo Volante was held at De Vleeshal in Middelburg during the opening of Boezem’s one-man show Space Sculptures. Here, he utilised his body as one of the materials for this piece and was dressed in a kind of airman’s outfit. Behind him was a freestanding mirror, which he kept in an uneasy balance by means of ropes slung over his shoulders. This queasy equilibrium was brought to an end when he was no longer able bear the weight and was forced to let the mirror go. It smashed into hundreds of pieces on the floor, so that it then reflected the building’s Gothic vault in its countless broken fragments.
The motif of the Gothic arch is frequently found in Boezem’s oeuvre. This includes another work called Étude Gothique (1985). This sculpture was placed in the middle of a market place in Den Bosch city centre. It comprises a 30-centimetre-high podium of polished granite terrazzo that takes the form of a Gothic arch. The work appears to function as the shadow of an imaginary arch and is located at the point where all the old city’s most important functions coincide. Specifically: on one side, it points towards St. John’s Cathedral (religion); on the other it highlights a view of the local town hall (government). In addition, its market place location is in the middle of a shopping district, a place of economic activity (economy). The sculpture also has a social purpose in the urban space because it can be used as a seat.