World Maps and Space Art Exhibited

Over a year ago, I was asked if I wanted to have an exhibition of my work in the entrance hall of the RIVM, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven. At that time, I had only a vague idea of the existence of that institute. But then first the emissions of nitrogen by agriculture and industry created a kind of national crisis in which the institute played a pivotal role. And after that the covid-19 pandemic came upon us. By now, there is probably nobody in the country who has never heard of RIVM. Brand awareness of the organization has increased exponentially.

As an artist you are, of course, always looking for places to exhibit your work. And when you are simply asked, it is difficult to say no. Especially when the proposed venue is at such a special location. But the question was: what am I going to exhibit? I make quite a few different types of work. But whether people in that part of the country are very enthusiastic about, for example, photos of Rotterdam, is doubtful.

Canvasprint van een vierkante meter van de kaart van de fictieve Platte Aarde, gedragen door de maker
One square metre

Scientific

I picked two parts of my portfolio that in a way are related to one another; world maps and space art. These also seemed to me to be works for which there could be some interested public at a scientific institute.

Many of the world maps are made of extra-ordinary (virtual) materials: scrapwood, bottle caps, coffee beans, stained glass. And the maps made of toilet rolls and face masks fit perfectly with the venue in this corona year. The map of the Drowned Earth, which shows what will happen when the polar caps melt, provides a more serious touch. And the map of the Inverted World, which has become a kind of classic, had to be included in the selection as well. I have put together all the world maps that I selected in this video:

Investment

My work is largely stored as digital information on my hard drive, so I had to invest in prints first. The map of the Flat Earth, with its dimensions of 100 by 100 centimeters, has become a real eye-catcher. And I had the other world maps printed on the still respectable size of 80 by 40 centimeters.

Fifteen world maps on canvas prints in three cardboard boxes, ready for an exhibition
15 world maps

Space art

Over the past twenty years I have built up a nice portfolio of space art. For the exhibition I have selected thirteen pieces, with a wide variety of subjects. There are educational images that show, for example, how big Mars and the Earth are in relation to each other. Other pictures comment on current events: the landing of ESA probe Huygens on Titan, the launch of Elon Musk’s Tesla, the naming by the Dutch public of the distant planet Nachtwacht, or the imperturbable plodding of NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity. Finally, there is a series of works that show fascinating possibilities in a distant future: a space elevator, moving cities, hollowed out asteroids and a terraformed Venus.

Thirteen pieces of space art by Frans Blok, framed and ready for an exhibition
13 pieces of space art

Framed

To emphasize that it is a different part of the exhibition, I had the space art printed and framed, not on canvas but on photo paper. The space art is also printed a bit smaller than the maps. Maybe a little too small, I thought when I saw the exhibition space, which is also the canteen.

The rings of Venus and other space art by Frans Blok, exhibited at the RIVM in Bilthoven, The Netherlands
The Rings of Venus

Vernissage

The exhibition has been operational since 8 December. Special thanks to travel companion H for the assistance and transportation. Unfortunately, no official opening was possible, the times are not right for that. But at least my work is nicely exhibited and beautifully lighted.

Rust World Map by Frans Blok, exhibited in the entrance hall of the RIVM in Bilthoven, The Netherlands
The Rusty World Map

Lockdown

The exhibition will be Bilthoven until the end of March. And it cannot be visited unless you happen to work at the RIVM. And even then there are limitations because the irony is that, exactly one week after the start of the exhibition, Prime Minister Rutte announced our second lockdown, which will last at least five weeks. Anyway, now that I have these prints, it does not have to end with this one occasion. Perhaps it can become a traveling exhibition. Suggestions and tips are of course welcome!

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