How did you come up with this design?
« The overhang above the entrance of the Volkshotel reminded me of a swimming pool diving board. This simple association led me to create quirky sea creatures such as this ‘catfish with green luscious curls holding a lobster rainbow lolly’ getting ready to dive (or rather not) into the ‘liquid city’ below. »
Why did you choose these figures?
« Amsterdam, as every other touristic hotspot, is full of tacky, uninspired, cliché souvenir shops. I have a love/hate relationship with these souvenirs. Most of them are colorful, catchy and ‘fun’, yet many are also derogatory, full of sexist and racist stereotypes. Keeping the idea of souvenir iconography in mind I attempted to create a new touristic symbol carrying an attraction/repulsion tension, or a form of ‘cute discomfort’. The work seems friendly yet can also be slightly unsettling. Are the characters free-spirited unique beings hanging out? Or could they be misbehaving sleazy tourists in stag party disguise about to cause mayhem?
The fact that the installation is presented on the forefront of a hotel, a symbol of tourism, is of course essential to me. Yet the Volkshotel is also a place for locals, hosting artists and musician’s studios. So the building carries a certain duality in its function. »
What do you want people to think when they walk by this canopy?
« I find it interesting when a work escapes the intentions of its maker and starts to lead it’s own life. The ideas that I want to express might not be recognized and be replaced with countless different interpretations. And all of these interpretations will be valid!
Having said that, the Wibautstraat is a long grey concrete monumental axis. With this piece I hope to bring some playfulness, fantasy, color and absurdity in an austere and serious urban environment.
Some of the local population might come to greet the creatures as friends on their daily commuting. That would make me happy. »
Where do the animals come from?
« The polyester figures were bought from new and second hand sources and modified through 3 dimensional collage techniques. »
Can you describe your style and how it correlates with this canopy?
« Mass produced tacky gadgets, bargain store junk and flea market curiosa often have a strong emotional impact on me. I long to embrace and transform these objects in a manner that their spiritual and symbolic essence can be recognized. By glorifying the unremarkable and lending enchantment to vulgar materials I attempt to comment on society through the objects that surround us. »
« Last but not least I want to give a shout out to my team. Without their help this would never have been possible! Hilde, Sajoscha, Patrick, Caroline, merci! »
Find more of Simon’s universe on his Instagram page.