I suspect that one of the reasons "Tumbler" from the recent Batman films quickly achieved instant classic status is because of its unambiguous resemblance to the iconic F-117 Nighthawk, arguably the most advanced fighter jet of the 20th-century. My hypothesis is largely based on the fact that (like myself) the target audience for the films—or at least the vehicle design and visual style of Christopher Nolan's trilogy—recognizes the affinity between the two conveyances from our youthful obsession over such things.
Which is probably why artist Paul Segers' latest project, "Stealth Pavilion," piqued my interest. The Eindhoven-based mixed media sculptor is known for large-scale installations, as well as "[organizing] projects in the Netherlands and around the world under the auspices of his 'New Brabant Front,' a network of like-minded artists from various fields in the creative industry." His new piece references the aeronautical and architectural aspects of his previous work even as it speaks to the timely issue of surveillance.The Stealth Pavillion was created for KAAP, an annual exhibition at one of the fortresses of the old Dutch defense line 'de Hollandse Waterlinie.' The 'theme' of the exhibition was inspired by Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuys' Utopian 'New Babylon' project (1959-74).Photo by Peter Cox
The Stealth Pavillion is not based on the Utopian idea that arose in the 60's and 70's, but on the idea of the so-called 'heterotopia' that came after: an anti-space inside a given context like our society. As the name suggests, the Stealth Pavillion utilizes so-called 'stealth technology' based on the american Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk to guarantee the possibility of sub-radar activities. In these highly technological times, a real free zone seems to be impossible without the aid of a high-tech system. In contrast, the Pavillion's simple wooden interior with fireplace suggest a very basic use of the space.
I appreciate the science-fiction-y contrast between the boat-like wooden interior and the jagged panels of the exterior, but I'm also struck by how it vaguely looks like it an abstracted reptile or amphibian, as though the canopy might one day close and the creature might stalk into the cover of darkness, never to be seen again...
The "Stealth Pavilion" is made of steel, aluminum and wood, measuring 9×3×4 m. It's currently on view in Groenekan, Netherlands, KAAP 2013, along with work by David Bade, Melanie Bonajo, Jonas Wijtenburg, Saskia Janssen & Maria Pask en Kaleb de Groot. The Frank Koolen-curated exhibition opened last weekend and will be open to the public every Saturday and Sunday until July 14.
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