A Museum Amid Art and Quarantine
When you cannot visit an art museum, you create your very own, believes Anneloes Officier who initiated a storm of interactive art and a museum of sorts on Instagram as @tussenkunstenquarantaine that brought a wave of creativity from around the world. Scale brings the story behind this creative and fun pursuit.
The lockdown has diverse effects on the populace. But there is no beating Anneloes Officier when it comes to fun-filled innovation. Anneloes is a bored communication specialist from Amsterdam who was so unnerved by the proposition of not moving out of the confines of her house that she created a game for her friends and family.
What started off as a family and friends entertainment by Anneloes and her roommate Floor de Weger on WhatsApp and later to Anneloes’ Instagram account gathered much popularity that it had to be made into a separate account, @tussenkunstenquarantaine (“tussen kunst enquarantaine” is Dutch for “between art and quarantine”)
Explaining how it all started, Anneloes says, “Floor had just finished her first day at home on March 14 and was already worried about the idea of being at home for so long, I made up with this challenge where our friends had to recreate a famous painting by using three products lying around your home. Such as toilet paper and sanitizer everyone is stacking up nowadays. And we’d guess which artwork it was supposed to be.”
Anneloes started with a recreation of the Girl with a Pearl Earring, an oil painting by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer using a towel a mat and a garlic bulb as the earring which was shared over Whatsapp to her friends.
The rest became history. Of being the most interactive art recreation with more than 610 posts in the last two months since it started on March 14 and with a stupendous follower base of 250K.
The first few artworks that Anneloes received were so creative that it set the bar quite high and a few days later, the Rijksmuseum, the Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam started following her.
“And then the account became bigger and bigger. By the next week, we heard more news about social distancing with people taking precautionary measures. I guess we all had time on our hands, which led to the success of this endeavour,” she says.
“We’re so happy to about unite people in this lonesome time and we never guessed this would be picked up globally offering people some relief in these crazy times. That’s also why we chose a Dutch title, it’s a parody to a Dutch TV shows and it means ‘between art and quarantine’.”
“In two days’ time, the world had come to a standstill, and the Instagram handle just exploded. From 600 to 1,000 with the followers growing. Over 50k contributions have come in via the hashtag #tussenkunstenquarantaine and another 33,600 on the international handle #betweenartandquarantine. Also, the Rijksmuseum, The MET (New York), The Louvre (Paris & Abu Dhabi), Versailles, Getty (LA) and The Hermitage among lots of other museums joined in and shared the posts, making us more and more popular,” says Anneloes who still feels dazed about the stupendous popularity of this simple fun activity she initiated. “People are sending in messages from all around the world (Norway, Canada, Iran, Argentina, Spain, Mexico, Russia, The US, Italy, Spain, France, Turkey, Portugal). Teachers who are happy to participate with their students, parents who are at home working with their kids, doctors on standby who just need something to take their mind of. People send in the sweetest messages that they’ve had a rough day and the pics made them laugh.”
What Anneloes finds most endearing is to see people enjoy making their take on art.
“The ones where they replace an item of the original painting with a household item, like instead of a guitar they use a vacuum cleaner. Also, I love it when people are serious about recreating the posture of the figures in the painting. I love the raw and authentic feel of the ‘homemade’ art in this. It doesn’t have to be pretty (although lots of them are!) but you just enjoy yourself with it.”
The most humorous ones are those in which the toilet paper takes centre stage throwing satire back at us all. From Renaissance classics to contemporary masterpieces to some Banksy and also to Maurizio Cattelan‘s infamous Art Basel Miami Beach banana has received a worthy recreation.
“If we can bring a smile every once in a while, during this period, it’s worth continuing as long as people are enjoying it,” says Anneoloes who finds the entire process therapeutic. “We hope to eventually do an exposition when life gets ‘ back to normal’, whatever that will be.”