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Our World in TWOTHOUSANDANDSIX

VREDESPALEIS THE HAGUE, 2012

The work in the Peace Palace is guided by two observations about the building and its function. On the one hand, the Peace Palace is an institution working with an idea on peacekeeping based on protecting and defining physical borders between countries. Yet its main building, built 100 years ago, is a beautiful portrayal of the world at that age and time.

Gifts, artefacts and art works from countries from all around the world give a true insight into the world of a hundred years ago. Furthermore, it indicates relativity. Whilst different worlds lead to different countries, men remain the same. Fortuyn was looking to make a work that would emphasize the world of today yet materialize it in a lasting way, just like the artefacts seen in the main building.

The proposed work consisted of two parts:

The first piece, at the entrance door, is a cast in bronze, alphabetically ordered list of names of all countries and territories of the world (UN List of 2006). The work is placed in front of the revolving door at the entrance of the library building and invites one to either walk over or around it. It questions visitors in a subtle way; what is the value of countries’ names, what do they represent? Initial responses to the proposal included: “That’s blasphemy! Names of countries are sacred, especially here.” On the other hand, names of countries are used to indicate parts of the art and we all use these on a daily basis.

In the second part of the work, found in the hall of the academy building, all countries and territories of the world are cut out of the map and placed back in random order. The academy building is visited by young students and lawyers from across the world for studying and meeting. Each of these visitors with a certain memorization of the map of the world in their heads; some parts of this map more clearly outlines, some more blurry. What is clear and what is blurry depends on both origin and education. When seeing the work on the wall, eye-brain reflex will draw you to the countries you know, their familiar shape will pop out of the wall. Yet this topography does not correspond to the way we know the world. It questions notions of knowledge, recognition and categorization of terra incognita. 

Fortuyn worked with lasting materials and techniques. The work at the entrance door is made of bronze and the second work, which is partly inside and partly outside, works with marble based stucco on Vikupor (a man-made material) outside and a water-resistant MDF inside. The thickness of the work is covered in gold leaf and the countries are installed in seemingly floating manner in front of the wall with stainless steel bolts.

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