A friend of mine did an architectural analysis about Museum De Pont in Tilburg, which used to be an old wool spinning mill. Part of his analysis was an artistic interpretation that can tell us more than just the building itself. Take a look at the image below. Which elements do you see in the picture? What kind of feeling does it give you? And what are your first thoughts?
The drawing shows a contrast between the current use of the building and its past. On the left we see the original function of the wool spinning mill. The person who’s shearing the sheep seems not aware that his wool is no longer used to make a fabric but to create bricks. And so the space blurs into a construction site, entering the transformation phase of the building. While the man in the back is still figuring out how to lay his bricks, the painter seems not bothered to continue his work. The reason for his hurry is soon to be revealed as the first exhibition visitors are already entering the space. Despite of the absurd setting, visitors seem not distracted, only if it is for them when they look in the mirror.
The drawing shows that the way how the building was transformed represents a development that goes far beyond scale of the building itself. The contrast between the wool spinning mill as a regional industry and an internationally oriented museum could not be any bigger. It’s an exemplary result of our time of globalization where a rapid trend of transformation rules, from the traditional and local to the modern and ubiquitous. This causes drastic changes, which affect people in different ways.
The shepherd for example desperately tries to hold on to his traditional job, ignoring all the developments going on around him. For the carpenters however, the accelerating society is inescapable. They are fed up by the immens speed they have to perform at. There is no more time to gain the knowledge about their craft. This is shown by the mason who doesn’t know how to lay his bricks anymore. Meanwhile the knowledge that is stored in our heritage tends to be victim of careless handling, like it’s the case with the painter, who ignorantly whitewashes anything on his way, symbolically erasing the past.
At last, there are the visitors who seem not aware of everything that’s going on around them. The woman in front of the mirror is rather looking at herself in all sorts of interesting ways, then paying attention to the painter two meters away from her. The visitors represent the consumeristic society (‘consumptiemaatschappij’). As they are constantly distracted by all kinds of visual impulses and encouraged to follow egocentric desires, they are disabled to be aware of a bigger picture, even when our planet needs that so badly.