The Walk-in Wunderkammer
When I was little, I was obsessed with wonder boxes. I created
little landscapes with paper maché, green blotting paper, sand and
little animals and tiny people. The magical feeling you get when
you manoeuver your eyes in front of the cut out hole and see the
miniature world created inside, still makes me really happy. It
feels like you're the only witness to a well-kept secret, a
treasure kept especially for you. I got the same feeling when I
walked into Doina Kraal's In de Rarekiek, a life-size wonder
box of nine meters long, four meters wide and two and a half meters
high. An extraordinary place that looks like you just walked into a
real life fairytale. There is something amazing happening in every
corner, on each of the shelves and there is an exciting vista in
every wall. I don't know where to begin describing the feeling you
get when entering Kraal's 'Wunderkammer'.
'Wunderkammer' is the word Kraal chose to describe what she
created in her project space at the Voormalige Stadstimmertuin.
Wunderkammers were produced in Europe during the Renaissance.
It was a portable room full of curiosities where objects and
strange articles were collected and classified. The word fits
perfectly because 'wonder' is all you can do in Kraal's version.
Small objects are exhibited in glass cases and on shelves, lasered
flowers lit by a photographic projection, a hologram of a boy
singing arias, see-through landscapes, a cloud caught under a glass
bowl and stained glass windows. There is a lot to discover. Kraal
wants visitors to experience it all by themselves. The exhibition
booklet gives background information about her inspiration, but the
individual stories of each particular object are there to discover
and create your own story around. Just the way she did.
When I visited In de Rarekiek I had the privilege of a
personal introduction to Kraal's work. She explained how she
started this two year project creating her perfect micro cosmos.
Taking the cloud, a notable work in the installation, as an example
of her working method, Kraal wanted to create a vertical cloud and
started researching this phenomenon. She found volcanic eruptions,
cumulonimbus and stars. Kraals wants things to become more than
they first appear. To attach multiple interpretations to an image
or object. This way existing categories fade and meaning becomes
subjective. This is why Kraal does not prescribe her vision to the
viewer. You are free to make you own perfect universe inside
Kraal's wonder box.
Writing this blog I realized how difficult it is to find words
to describe Doina Kraal's installation. I think the best way is to
invite you to experience it for yourself. And if your own version
is not enough, you can also visit In de Rarekiek on a
Friday afternoon. Then Kraal will be there in person to let you in
on her well-kept secret.
In de Rarekiek by Doina Kraal can be seen from 14 September
to 21 October 2012 at the Voormalige Stadstimmertuin 4 - 6 in
Amsterdam. Open from Thursday- Sunday 12 am - 6 pm.