Through The Lens of Louis van Gasteren | 1 March 2018
Louis van Gasteren (1922-2016) was a filmmaker, visual artist and ‘seismographer of his time’. In 2011, Louis van Gasteren rang to invite me to visit him, in response to my contribution to the call for preservation of original artworks during the Amsterdam metro stations’ Oostlijn renovation. Van Gasteren created the Gesamtkunstwerk ‘Greetings from the Nieuwmarkt’ in the station Nieuwmarkt with Jan Sierhuis, Bert Griepink, Roel van den Ende and Tine Hofman.
During our conversation in the Kloveniersburgwal house, just a few canals from the studio here, I also had a look at his archive. It contained material from divers public artworks, either executed or concept proposals. And then I began thinking: a wealth of artworks by Louis van Gasteren that could be realized at a specific location, anew or for the first time.
After our meeting we remained in touch about the progress of the Nieuwmarkt artwork. In the period that followed, Louis van Gasteren also surprised me several times by announcing that he had seen one of my Amsterdam artworks on site: ‘The Key Is Under The Doormat’, ‘You Have Ten Saved Messages’, and the floor-piece ‘Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright’.
“Yes, Martijn, I called my driver and we went off by car to Kraaipan Square. What would you say to elevating your floor artwork to a space where we could hold a Service? A church with no walls and roof, only a floor. And there’s a lecture there about the issue you postulate: ‘Tomorrow everything will be alright’.
So there they are, a trio of heavyweights scrutinizing the course of time: your staircase, the synagogue and now this square. I think your artwork and your message require verbal justification for the institutionalization of the optimistic message. In other words, we’re going to raise that floor.”
‘Nema Avonia za Zagreb’ is Louis van Gasteren’s last film. A retrospect of his life including the beautiful scene in Abcoude – a Dutch village with two churches lying in line with distance between them – where the vanishing of one tower behind the other tower is masterfully portrayed.
Martijn Sandberg, 1 March 2018