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In the Frame for May 2011: Hans Langner’s ‘Forever Friends’

Since June last year we have used monthly In the Frame posts on this blog to highlight artworks from our reserve collection. Digital images of everything in this collection are already available online, but we think In the Frame is a good means of promotion, and intend to keep it up. This month, however, In the Frame goes ‘on holiday’ to highlight an artwork in Gent’s Museum Dr Guislain. Along with other colleagues, our Archivist recently attended the 3rd International Conference on the History and Heritage of Psychiatry in Gent, and took the opportunity to revisit a display he has always found striking, Hans Langner’s art installation entitled Forever Friends (part of the Stichting Collectie de Stadshof transferred to Museum Dr Guislain last decade). The Archivist writes:

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“The title of this installation provides no real clue to its character. This is an immersive exhibit that one needs to be standing within to appreciate. However, ‘appreciate’ isn’t the right word to capture the experience of being in the midst of this incredibly cluttered display, assembled by the artist from a vast array of materials thrown away by others in such a way as to leave only one winding passage through it. Those whose home or work environment is not as clean and tidy as it might be will be familiar with the fear of being overcome by clutter, most of it valueless but some of it critically important, and with the waves of helplessness, panic and denial that the very sight of a messy desk or disordered room can induce.”

Anyone inspired to visit Gent on the strength of this recommendation, be warned! It is possible that shortly after stepping into Hans Langner’s installation, viewers may be possessed by an overwhelming desire to escape it.