The room is filled with whispers and you have absolutely no idea where they are coming from. It’s like the room is talking to you, which is weirdly calming and disturbing at the same time. The moment you decide to move on and see the rest of the exhibition, you’ll end up in a room which is the opposite of calming. All the elements of a county fair are wrapped up in one small space, including; Laughing mirrors, a candy machine and even a carousel.
The exhibition Hide & Seek is the perfect example of how a children’s game can be equally interesting for adults. It is Maarten Baas’ first big solo exhibition and it contains old work like Clay and Smoke as well as new work. His style is well balanced and not only humorous or theatrical but also kind of rebellious. The county fair is a great example of his rebellious work. His inspiration was the yearly Design Week in Milan. It used to be all about innovating designs and well toughed concepts , however, nowadays it seems like only the most shared picture and design on Social Media stands a change. It reminded Maarten of a county fair and his love-hate relationship with the Milan Design Week. Critical or not, the hilarious show became a huge success and Maarten won ‘The Best Show Award of 2014’.
Maarten has got an exceptional way of combining design and art. His playful way of captivating your attention doesn’t only makes you think about his designs, but actually also about your own life as well. Time moves so quickly and everyone is always in some sort of rush. This affects the quality of life. Baas tries to make you more aware of mindfulness through his work Real Time. Just take a deep breath, sit down and watch the clocks and time tick by. It’s quite paradoxical to watch the time goes by even though you’re in a rush. But it works, it seriously calms you down.
The show Smoke contains furniture which Maarten set on fire and afterwards treated with an epoxy coating. So now you can’t only reuse the furniture , they also have this amazing burned look which reminded me of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The Groninger Museum asked Maarten to do the same with some mid-19th century furniture the museum never used. Now you can see what a burned piano looks like after it’s been treated with an epoxy coating. Quite impressive, I can tell you.
The exhibition Hide & Seek is a must see when you love modern and exceptional design. Even when you’re not a fan, I would definitely recommend it to you. The exhibition doesn’t only makes you laugh, it makes you think as well. And I can’t think of a better way of spending your afternoon.
The exhibition is shown in the Groninger Museum until 24-09.
Article by Charlotte Aalbers
Credits images Hide & Seek, Maarten Baas
Groninger Museum 2017
Photos of the rooms in the museum by Marten de Leeuw
Photo of the portrait by Anton Corbijn