Bewaard

2023/2024
Installation of 12 sculptures
Ranging 40 to 168 cm
Paperpulp, natural dye
Kunstinstituut Melly, Rotterdam

Bewaard (Kept) is the outcome of a months-long, community-oriented commission by Kunstinstituut Melly in Rotterdam (NL). For this, Sijben Rosa collaborated with four people in The Netherlands whose sense of mortality is heightened due to ageing or illness. Through conversations they, together with Sijben, set out to identify meaningful objects from their personal surroundings. These ranged from a pinball machine and a BDSM knife, to a nettle leaf and a fur coat. However idiosyncratic, these objects encapsulate the lasting personal values identified by each.

Inspired by these objects as conversation pieces in themselves, Bewaard consists of an installation of biodegradable sculptures created by Sijben. Warped in both scale and form, the artist uses color as a means to further portray their collaborators. For example, charcoal-like tones echo the black ink of tattoos, and the reddish hues are borrowed from a cherished painting of Jesus Christ. For Sijben, a crucial component of these artworks is their respective afterlives – whether bequeathed to the collaborators’ close communities; incorporated into their own burials; held onto within their homes; or destined to disintegrate. Contingent in nature, objects may come and go over the course of the exhibition, in unison with the chosen bewaarder (in English, “keeper”).

Bewaard is on show at Kunstinstituut Melly from 8 December 2023 until 1 September 2024. On the 1 March, there was a FOCUS event, in which writer, and holistic death care worker Staci Bu Shea shone a light on the exhibition by giving their perspective on what it means to live intimately with death and grief, and how this is explored through art. To enable neurodiverse visitors to prevent overstimulation, there is a sensory map of the exhibition and neighbouring group show ‘My Oma’ available both on location and digitally via this link.

Participants: Afina, Kitty Hoedjes, Marion Vandermeulen, Zuster Henriëtte Wolters 

Curators: Rosa de Graaf, Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy

Producer: Pilar Mata Dupont 

Advisors: Dariya Trubina, Staci Bu Shea, Lucila Kenny

Assistance: Saki Nishisaka, Yara Buttner

Volunteers: Arwen Morsink, Beau Boer, Bernice Nauta, Caro de Valk, Charlie Sven Matse, Cynthia Blom, Dominique van Loosdrecht, Elisabeth Voros, ellis bartholomeus, Erik Gooskens, Eszter Szabó, Flip Zonne Zuijderland, Hans Vernooij, Harriet Smith, Helena Oostveen, Jaap Sijben, Josha Zwanenburg, Kate Delbeke, Kitty Hoedjes, Lily Dollner, Linn Morsink, Lisan Gunsing, Margo Matse, Maria Chiara Ziosi, Merit Koops, Michal Noy, Nina Ashley Bach, Romy Goedhart, Roos Janssen, Sam Lau Thieme, Samiah Sultana, Sanna Elon Vrij, Selma Beltifa, Stella Fijneman

Photographer: Kristien Daem

With special thanks to Charlie Sven Matse, Marianne Reij, de Westfriese Bibliotheken, Houk van Lier, Katharina Bauer, Maren Wehrle, Hans-Georg Eilenberger and all other participants in the ‘When We Get Older’ summer course at Erasmus University, Jerrold Saija, Sarah Boers, Sanne Pols en Ed de Meijer

Bewaard (Kept) is the outcome of a months-long, community-oriented commission by Kunstinstituut Melly in Rotterdam (NL). For this, Sijben Rosa collaborated with four people in The Netherlands whose sense of mortality is heightened due to ageing or illness. Through conversations they, together with Sijben, set out to identify meaningful objects from their personal surroundings. These ranged from a pinball machine and a BDSM knife, to a nettle leaf and a fur coat. However idiosyncratic, these objects encapsulate the lasting personal values identified by each.

Inspired by these objects as conversation pieces in themselves, Bewaard consists of an installation of biodegradable sculptures created by Sijben. Warped in both scale and form, the artist uses color as a means to further portray their collaborators. For example, charcoal-like tones echo the black ink of tattoos, and the reddish hues are borrowed from a cherished painting of Jesus Christ. For Sijben, a crucial component of these artworks is their respective afterlives – whether bequeathed to the collaborators’ close communities; incorporated into their own burials; held onto within their homes; or destined to disintegrate. Contingent in nature, objects may come and go over the course of the exhibition, in unison with the chosen bewaarder (in English, “keeper”).

Bewaard is on show at Kunstinstituut Melly from 8 December 2023 until 1 September 2024. On the 1 March, there was a FOCUS event, in which writer, and holistic death care worker Staci Bu Shea shone a light on the exhibition by giving their perspective on what it means to live intimately with death and grief, and how this is explored through art. To enable neurodiverse visitors to prevent overstimulation, there is a sensory map of the exhibition and neighbouring group show ‘My Oma’ available both on location and digitally via this link.

Participants: Afina, Kitty Hoedjes, Marion Vandermeulen, Zuster Henriëtte Wolters 

Curators: Rosa de Graaf, Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy

Producer: Pilar Mata Dupont 

Advisors: Dariya Trubina, Staci Bu Shea, Lucila Kenny

Assistance: Saki Nishisaka, Yara Buttner

Volunteers: Arwen Morsink, Beau Boer, Bernice Nauta, Caro de Valk, Charlie Sven Matse, Cynthia Blom, Dominique van Loosdrecht, Elisabeth Voros, ellis bartholomeus, Erik Gooskens, Eszter Szabó, Flip Zonne Zuijderland, Hans Vernooij, Harriet Smith, Helena Oostveen, Jaap Sijben, Josha Zwanenburg, Kate Delbeke, Kitty Hoedjes, Lily Dollner, Linn Morsink, Lisan Gunsing, Margo Matse, Maria Chiara Ziosi, Merit Koops, Michal Noy, Nina Ashley Bach, Romy Goedhart, Roos Janssen, Sam Lau Thieme, Samiah Sultana, Sanna Elon Vrij, Selma Beltifa, Stella Fijneman

Photographer: Kristien Daem

With special thanks to Charlie Sven Matse, Marianne Reij, de Westfriese Bibliotheken, Houk van Lier, Katharina Bauer, Maren Wehrle, Hans-Georg Eilenberger and all other participants in the ‘When We Get Older’ summer course at Erasmus University, Jerrold Saija, Sarah Boers, Sanne Pols en Ed de Meijer