Nathanja van Dijk

The artists in the exhibition Hemelbestormers (sky troopers, idealists) take us on a journey to the stars. The exhibition explores the proliferation of outer space as aspired idea or metaphor, for an attempt to understand the world we live in. Beyond the force of gravity, heaven serves as an observatory: a conceptual space where we can reflect on our complex earthly existence.

Since the dawn of time the heavens have spoken to the imagination, as a space of desire, a projection canvas for utopian dreams and the subject of investigative curiosity. Since the start of the new millennium we see a renewed interested in the universe, from the perspective of the arts as well as science and politics. In line with these developments, Hemelbestormers aims to interlace the terrestrial with the celestial, across axes of space and time.

The artwork Della Scultura & La Luce (1985) by Marinus Boezem (NL, 1934) is the departure point of these cosmological explorations. The work by Boezem – one of the Dutch founding fathers of conceptual art – consists of a round flat box. The small box contains an impressive mountain relief: the Mont Blanc massif. An ultramarine map of the northern hemisphere has been attached on the inside of the lid. When the box is closed the tops of the mountains touch the stars. With this poetic work Boezem captures the infinite universe in a tight space. However, heaven and earth come together in the dark, and therefore only attainable through the imagination.

Della Scultura & La Luce is a simple, yet powerful metaphor for the existential, yet futile desire to enclose the immeasurable and to escape earth's gravitational pull. Boezem is not the only one who takes the universe as his working terrain. Driven by their desire for the unknown, the artists in the exhibition reach for the sublime. By doing so, they describe the nullity.

With Julieta Aranda (MX), Dario D'Aronco (IT), Marinus Boezem (NL), Jeroen Jongeleen (NL), Agnes Meyer-Brandis (DE), Laurent Grasso (FR), Alicja Kwade (PL), Katie Paterson (GB), Thomas Ruff (DE)