PRESENCE: the first major museum solo project. Roosegaarde created this groundbreaking new interactive artwork in collaboration with the Groninger Museum. Previously work was displayed in the external public domain, whereas PRESENCE adopted the internal museum space for the first time on a large-scale. A phosphorescent landscape which changes colour and shape because of the presence of visitors. Unlike most exhibitions, which demand that art should be viewed from a distance, this installation encouraged physical interaction and immersion. By investigating the concept of the Dutch word ‘schoonheid’ in its dual meaning – beautiful and clean – which takes shape in new social core values like clean air, clean water and clean energy, PRESENCE envisions this theme by using new materials and principles of physics, evoking visitors to become aware of their own presence in a unique manner.
Inspired by climate change and a desire to improve the landscape, this work traces visitors' footsteps, which eventually disappear to make room for new ones, symbolising the impact of our presence on earth. “I wanted to create a place where you feel connected. You make the artwork and the artwork makes you. PRESENCE shows your relationship with the environment and how we can influence it.” Another source of inspiration was the landscape and environment art of the 1960s and ’70s in which interactivity and awareness of the earth’s vulnerability played an important role too. These artists made outdoor landscapes an integral part of their art; Roosegaarde however, takes a new step by taking his landscape inside of the museum walls.
Although the 800 m2 PRESENCE installation is the result of innovative material and technical research, it comes across as highly intuitive and immersive. Different areas allow visitors to experience various changes in perspective – from large and solid to small and mobile, from dark to bright. In one gallery, futuristic spheres draw lines on the floor. Another seems filled with luminous stardust, calling to mind a vast city seen from an airplane. Other spaces appear to scan visitors by recording their presence in silhouettes and patterns. The interaction between visitor and work creates constantly changing visual impressions. Not only looking and observing but, most of all, touching, feeling and moving are essential.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the renowned art book publisher Phaidon will launch the English-language monograph Daan Roosegaarde. Lecturis will simultaneously publish a Dutch translation. The book features contributions by Nico Daswani of the World Economic Forum, Fumio Nanjo of Mori Arts Museum in Tokyo, Carol Becker of Columbia University in New York, and Daan Roosegaarde.