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Winter Garden / 2005 / Amphia Hospital / commission / Breda

 

In Winter Garden, a video animation played across three screens, Michiel Kluiters interweaves images of a hospital corridor with video clips of tropical winter gardens. Lush exotic plants are interspersed by images of a hospital bed in a tropical greenhouse, or a jungle that looks as if it is about to envelop the hospital room. The images introduce an exotic atmosphere, and evoke associations with the beauty and soothing warmth of faraway places.

 

Winter Garden was created for the passageway from the old Amphia Hospital to the new building, which has a drastically different architecture.

In the new building, large glass panels provide a wide-open view of the garden, and allow in plenty of natural light. The open structure reminded Kluiters of the architecture of sanatoriums, in particular the Zonnestraal sanatorium in Hilversum, designed by architect Johannes Duker (1928): a pleasant place for the chronically ill, in richly-forested surroundings.

 

With this and the laboratory-like surroundings of the hospital in mind, Michiel Kluiters explored interior landscaping, botanical gardens and the supposed healing properties of such ‘indoor jungles’. In his design sketch, he also made reference to the 1972 science fiction film Silent Running, in which what remains of plant life on earth has been artificially preserved in large, spherical greenhouses. Well-being and alienation also go hand-in-hand in Winter Garden’s dream-like images. Split across three screens that are fastened to the outside of the facade, still images slowly flow across one another. The strongly outward-focused view is given an extra panoramic layer. The series of fragments creates a landscape in which the different worlds become intertwined. No story is created – the suspense stems from the wondrous manifestations of these different ‘realities’. Here, the inside and outside worlds flow into one another, as do the real space of the hospital and the images of tropical greenhouses. Reality and fiction are barely distinguishable from each other. The interaction between the screens is also intriguing. At times, the shifting images connect to one another and form a single whole, before slipping past one another.

 

The three projections of the 45-minute film provide countless individual snapshots and combinations. The fragmented approach works well precisely because the artwork is experienced passively. The effect of the piece grows over time for those who come back to view it at different times of day. As it becomes darker outside, the illuminated images move closer to the foreground, and the atmosphere in the hallway becomes more strongly determined by the wondrous parallel reality created by Winter Garden. The Amphia Hospital in Breda has a special collection of visual art, which includes pieces by Luc Tuymans and Ann Veronica Janssens. Michiel Kluiters received the commission to expand this collection. Winter Garden is in tune with the collection’s theme: offering the patients in the hospital some relaxation, food for thought, and creating a sense of wonderment and beauty.

 

This work was created on commission by the Amphia Hospital in Breda in collaboration with SKOR, the Foundation for Art in Public Spaces.