States of Art: Art for all the senses
TEXT: MATT ANTONIAK | PHOTO: PETER COX AND THE VAN ABBEMUSEUM
The experience of art has traditionally been dominated by one sense – sight. But why should it be this way? Art is all about the human experience, and since we’ve got five senses, it seems a waste not to make use of them.
The Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven has decided to right this wrong with an exhibition that is all about smelling, touching, hearing and seeing. Delinking and Relinking invites you to experience art differently.
Through utilising other senses, the exhibition’s mission is to introduce broader perspectives into the museum and experience works from their collection afresh. Working with experts in physical accessibility and consulting with queer and identity groups, they have introduced 25 multi-sensory tools to enhance the visitor experience. These include Braille texts, scent interpretations and tactile drawings designed to enrich the visitor experience for everyone, as well as ensure the exhibition is accessible for wheelchair users and visually or hearing impaired visitors.
There are over 120 works of art in this bumper show, spread over five floors of the vast Van Abbe and spanning over 100 years. The works are presented in chronological order and highlight the contemporary concerns of the artists at the time. As you move closer to today, you notice the increased social commitments of the artists. There is an increased interest in the climate, ethnic politics, race and gender inequality.
These are experiences, emotions and feelings that affect all of us and ought to be presented in an accessible way. In Delinking and Relinking, the Van Abbe Museum is pioneering a path to truly make art for everyone. Delinking and Relinking runs until 1 July 2025.
Matt Antoniak is a visual artist and writer living and working in Newcastle, UK. He works mainly in painting and drawing and is a founding member of the art collective M I L K.
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