It Is What It Is

An impression of the work experience during project Nick and Simon- ‘OPEN’


Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle. (Foto:

Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle. (Foto:

The project started with the selected eight visual artists who have let themselves get inspired by the songs of Nick and Simon’s new album titled ‘OPEN’. Each artist began to work based on one or more songs by the duo. The goal of this exhibition was to make a connection between music and fine art. After research and meetings with the director of museum de Fundatie in Zwolle, artists David Bade and Tirzo Martha decided that it would be a great opportunity to participate in this project. The arrangements of the project were clear and the goal was to collaborate with students from Cibap Zwolle and IBB alumni to create four stages, or better said, four installations.

A large group of students worked together with Tirzo Martha to build the foundation of these installations. After the first week into the project it became clear that the workshops with local students wasn’t planned well enough and thus the rest of the project continued with only IBB alumni and mentors Tirzo Martha, David Bade, and Fiona Henriquez for the duration of October 27th until November 20th 2015. Despite this miscommunication the project proceeded with a great working atmosphere in which the installations grew into an intriguing whole. This was very contrasting with the environment of the museum. The following report will give you a concise impression of the experiences acquired through the project Nick and Simon- ‘OPEN’.

Understanding life a bit better with IBB (a quote on one of the sculptures)

Various IBB alumni came to work daily on the installations which created a rotation effect on the project. Each person had their own input in their own manner which was not only based on the inspiration of the songs by Nick and Simon. The work also formed itself into each individual creation. Next to each stage a specific song continuously played through speakers where viewers could gain a better understanding of the working method by students and mentors. By working in the middle of the museum we also got the chance to talk individually with the viewers to explain what we were doing and would often lead to conversations on personal topics. This method of working was a well fit for IBB in which interventions of art and the social element stand central.



IBB alumni werken aan de verschillende podia

An example of this was when David had a conversation with a man who appeared to be a total fan of his work and the IBB institute. A moment like this is certainly unique because this individual had the opportunity to talk with the artist while he was standing and working on his piece. Or like the moment while I was painting on one of the installations and a man asked what the work was about. In this conversation I discovered that this 85 year old man was endlessly working on his creative process to reach a minimalistic result in his work. We both started to laugh because I had previously mentioned how minimalistic art intrigued me while my previous work was more figurative.


David Bade in gesprek met een bezoeker.

These conversations happened regularly and organically because of the interaction between the workers and the public. The very present coffee bar in the beautiful dome hall created even more attention and triggered a certain ‘passive participation’. This was a fascinating experience for me, especially because people tend to stand still for a second and take in the work and/or try to understand it. The discussions between the viewers were often questioning if the installation could be considered to be art or not. It is of course clear that people attend museums in the hope to admire and analyze “beautiful art”, but what do we really see and define as “beautiful art”?. A subject which contains both little and a lot to debate on because each individual has their own opinion and has the right to express this as well. That is why we hope to have reached the public with this project to let people think not only about art, but about life as well.

David Bade/N&S and the new Perspective/A4/Acrylpaint on paper.     

David Bade/N&S and the new Perspective/A4/Acrylpaint on paper.

It is what is is

The four songs by Nick and Simon were playing endlessly, of which each song was based by its matching stage/sculpture basis. ‘Het is was het is’(‘It is what it is’) was one of the famous songs of which I was able to sing along by the end of this project. For me this song was the most relevant with the process of our work in the museum because it can be explained as simple as ‘It is what it is’. Most of the viewers expected a more elaborate explanation of the work in which the individual does not give himself/herself the space to experience to analyze or understand what they are witnessing.

In my opinion this installation was the ultimate challenge for Museum de Fundatie and her public to let go of the so-called ‘beautiful art’. We hope that they have experienced something totally different, something totally out of the ordinary. When going to the exhibition, visitors had to take the elevator to the third floor. Upon exiting the doors they were immediately confronted with the installations. Often I would hear “wow this is so great how they are working here in the middle of the museum”, or “Is this really art?”, and “well you don’t see this everyday”. No matter how different the opinions were, this project has certainly left various impressions on the public. An example of the connection between fine arts and music can be read in the following lyrical fragment of Nick and Simon’s song “It is what it is”:

“…if everything will be OK

in the near future

it stays a common quest

and I turn into the limbo..”

We each try to understand life a bit better by our individual journeys. Art allows people to interpret life in various ways and for artists to express everything with their talent. The more we see and experience the more knowledge we will gain, not only for art but also to try to understand life. Eventually this report comes to its final conclusion,

It is what it is.

November 2015, Fiona Henriquez

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