In the influential essay Against Interpretation (1964) Susan Sontag criticises the tendency for art to be primarily judged on the basis of intellectual interpretation. A work of art generates its own mode of under¬standing, which encompasses more than statements based on analysis and content. In fact, searching for symbolic meaning and metaphors can actually trivialise the intrinsic quality, the character of the art. ‘What is important now,’ says Sontag, ‘is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more.’
Chapter 3HREE Maarten Spruyt shows the work of 27 artists and takes the impressive architecture of Het HEM as a starting point. A large part of the experience-focused presentation takes place in the underground shooting ranges of the former bullet factory where visitors enter the space one by one. In the basement, the literal lack of view provides a unique context for a layered world of experience at a radically sensitive level.
A centuries-old artistic theme shines through in the works of art themselves: the human desire to come closer to nature, by curbing it or even destroying it. Now that the separation between culture and nature that Western thought has produced seems to be slowly but surely becoming diluted, we are looking for new ways to grasp our relationship to the world. How do we find a grip on a planet that is irreversibly changed by the influence of our behaviour? How can we feel reconnected to our environment? And can letting go of an analytical, contemplative attitude and immersing ourselves in experience offer solace in this?