Harmen de Hoop

Harmen de Hoop makes anonymous and illegal interventions in public spaces. The anonymity in his work is very important; he does not advertise his interventions as art or sign them in anyway. If he did so, the piece would become recognisable as an “artwork” which stops the passerby questioning in the same way.

De Hoop’s interventions re-contextualise existing signs/utilities etc within public spaces, but do so using common tools and imagery which don’t immediately draw the viewers attention due to their familiarity. They are “puzzling because of their pointlessness, but not unfamiliar either”. There is something surrealist in this notion; casual additions to public ‘furniture’ that raise question but don’t shake the ordinary.

“Basketball Court #6” – Amsterdam. Small part of a basketball court painted as if it’s a real court. Some time later the local council added the hoop (in the wrong place), before realising the court was nothing to do with them and scrubbing out the lines, but keeping the hoop.
“Fire Extinguisher #1” – Amsterdam. At first appears to be a genuine fire extinguisher until you realise it can’t be used without a saw.
“For Free!” – Rotterdam
“Ladies and Gents #1” – Berlin
“Cloakrooms” – Amsterdam/ Col du Corbier
“Mineral Water” – Landsmeer

Would people follow the instructions/ use the things before realising they don’t really make sense? Noone is forced to acknowledge the works, but they are somehow just absurd enough to pique the interest of a passerby.

I am interested in playing with this idea of faux-public utility. It would be interesting to incorporate a more human element into my work, rather than just creating systems using objects that go ignored. How does it change public response to something if it is presented as an actual thing vs an artwork? For example if a name plaque was put up next to De Hoops “Mineral Water” there is no chance anyone would take it, but if not they might.

Once these works are created, de Hoop loses control over them. They might stay there for years, but alternatively may be removed, vandalised or taken. This is reflective of the fact that they are designed to blend into the environment. What happens to them once out of the hands of the artist is a key part of the work.




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