Sarkis Zabunyan

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
2 June – 30 September 2012

Sarkis Zabunyan
The Submarine Wharf in Rotterdam’s docklands is currently undergoing a true transformation. The construction of the various monumental sculptures that make up Sarkis’ installation ‘Ballads’, commissioned by Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the Port of Rotterdam, is well under way. They include an 18-metre bell tower and a 16-meter lampshade in which a spotlight rises and falls to the rhythm of the artist’s breathing.

This summer the Submarine Wharf on the RDM Campus is presenting the installation ‘Ballads’ by Sarkis (1938). The building’s original function – submarines were once built here – and the surrounding water are central to the installation. Sarkis unites the building’s past and present, creating an extraordinary experience for the visitor with monumental objects, music and coloured films that filter the daylight like a modern variant of stained-glass windows. Sarkis is the third artist that Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the Port of Rotterdam have invited to make an installation in the Submarine Wharf. The festive opening of ‘Ballads’ will take place on Saturday 2 June 2012. (N.B. Press preview on Wednesday 30 May)

Water and air
“In ‘Ballads’ Sarkis attempts to create a connection between the dark depths of the water and the majestic expanse of thin air”, writes guest curator Nicolette de Gast in the booklet that accompanies the exhibition. The carillon continuously plays the composition ‘Litany for the Whale’ by John Cage and takes the visitor on a journey into the realm where submarines and whales meet. The pendant to the monumental bell tower is the slender 16-meter-high lampshade covered with white down feathers. The Futuro, a futuristic holiday home, has come to land in the Submarine Wharf, forming an auditorium for Sarkis’ videos about water: experiments in form and colour.

The exhibition’s English title ‘Ballads’ – meaning a form of narrative verse or slow, romantic song – should not be taken too literally. The French verb ‘se balader’ means to go for a walk.
Sarkis wants visitors to wander at leisure through the exhibition, accompanied by the music.
Visitors can also explore the installation on one of the sixty bicycles arranged below the enormous lampshade.