Written by: Noa Zuidervaart
At the end of last year, I started working at the VU ART SCIENCE gallery as a host and space manager. So far it has been a unique insight into the organization and management of a cultural institution. Once a week I am present in the gallery to welcome guests, show them around and inform them about the exhibited artworks. It is a fun and engaging position because you are not just educating the visitors, but also learning more about others’ perspective on art through conversation. Besides being one of the faces of the gallery, I am also active behind the scenes. As the space manager it is my job to make sure that the gallery is presentable and that our stock is sufficient — because nobody likes a grumpy tour guide who hasn’t had a cup of coffee. We also have a meeting every two weeks. This is when our small team comes together and exchanges ideas. A useful moment because everyone is always open to suggestions to improve the gallery even more.
My favorite work from our current exhibition Starting from Zero is the Atom Series – an installation by Jennifer Tee. Not only because Tee was inspired by one of my most beloved painters from art history Hilma af Klint, but also because the work is so ambiguous. Every tour I give, I hear another person’s individual reflection on the installation. For example, there recently were two visitors; they were colleagues that worked in the same building as the gallery is located in. One of them linked Tee’s work to his Islamic faith. The depicted duality in the installation reminded him of life and death. His observations opened a conversation in which the three of us discussed the limitations of human understanding of the world. For me, that proved once again why I love being involved with art so much.