time flies

Theo Botschuijver is the godfather of Dutch ‘air art’. Looking back at an international career in experimental art that began in the sixties. 

‘The principle of aerial art is simple,’ says Theo Botschuijver, who first came into contact with it as a student in the 1960s. ‘You can glue or seal plastic and if you make it strong enough, you can make shapes with it.’ But that’s just the beginning. ‘It hides a whole vocabulary. You can build it like architecture or make it look like something: a flying pig, a drum kit or an octopus. You can go in or on it. It’s an experience.

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The generation of Theo Botschuijver (1943) grew up in the liberating counterculture of the sixties. After his exam at the Academy for Industrial Design in Eindhoven*, Botschuijver was seized by the optimism of new art, alternative music and a new – anti-authoritarian – mores. The hippies, provos and movements such as Fluxus built a bridge between art and everyday life. The number of performances, pop festivals and happenings soon grew in the Netherlands as well. Pop art and Land art were advancing. ‘Art had to be touchable and the boundaries between art, design, music and technology were deliberately shaken. Pop art was fundamentally cross-border and very international in outlook.’

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Since 1967

Botschuijver has been working on inflatable artworks since 1967, which he called ‘event structures’. ‘Actually, you bring two things together: the event – in time – and the object – in space,’ says Botschuijver. Last year he took part in the Amsterdam Light Festival with ‘A Homage to the Light Bulb’, an artwork of three gigantic light bulbs floating in the IJ in front of the Scheepvaartmuseum. Time flies. This certainly applies to inflatable art, which is only available for a short time. Many works from Botschuijver’s rich oeuvre are better known than the maker himself.

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Diamonds Are Forever

“In the film, villain Blofeld hides on an oil rig. James Bond (Sean Connery) jumps out of a plane and "waterwalks" towards his enemy. Stuntmen lined up to do the job at the time, but the Pacific Ocean, where the scene was filmed, was kind of rough. So I went in myself.” —Het Parool, 2003

Lightbulb .

‘Ode to the Light Bulb’ Pitch dark doesn’t exist here. A century ago, electricity drove the darkness out of our homes and streets. Artist Theo Botschuijver thinks it’s a bit of a shame that the light bulb has been forgotten. Energy-saving lamps and LED are more economical of course, but they would never have existed without this glowing icon. Lightbulb is part of the BLowUp Art Den Haag expo and is to be seen at De Passage in the city center of The Hague. 

BlowUp Art Den Haag
5—28 May

Stroll past giant-colored inflatable art around the Binnenhof: the Berlage Kiosk, The Passage, the Hofvijver, the side wall of the Koninklijke Schouwburg and the exit of the parking garage at Tournooiveld.

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"It was as simple as it was effective: a 250 m. long plastic tube connecting one bank with the other. People could enter and walk on water in an unusual acoustic environment with dreamy reflections. During installation we found a non-sealed seam that needed repairing since the idea was to walk-on-water while keeping one’s feet dry".