On 28 February 2013, the artwork All is Well, made by Israeli artist Aya Ben Ron (b. 1967, Haifa) was unveiled during the opening of the new main entrance and central lobby of the Máxima Medical Centre in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The work is commissioned by Máxima Medical Centre and the Van Abbemuseum.
All is well
A hospital is a waiting place. We wait, don’t we, for an explanation, a treatment or a medical solution. We arrive filled with uncertainty, with anxiety and above all with the understandable fear of losing control. Yet we must remain patient and await our turn. The waiting period offers diversions such as zapping through TV talk shows, leafing through drab magazines, or spying upon other patients in an attempt to guess the purpose of their visit—and so avoid thinking of our own. Hospitals are seen as veritable part-replacement facilities, where, with all this emphasis on the machine, there seems to be a clear dividing line between body and soul—the mere thought of which threatens us and fills us with dread.
However, deeper investigation reveals that since the dawn of hospital history, from the days of the temple of Aesclepius, Roman God of Medicine, and the use of an architectural structure to house a variety of medicinal solutions, it is precisely in this place that we are expected to pay close attention to those selfsame fears and anxieties. Why, then, do we avoid doing this?
All is Well is situated in the hospital to provide a special place of contemplation and quiet reflection. It is an attempt at rehabilitating and treating, first and foremost our will to escape. The work consists of a reflecting pool (four meters in diameter), with six stainless-steel figures (each approximately 2.5 x 1 meter) hovering above. Each figure refers to a different botanical element, and all hover above the pool without touching the water. Throughout the hospital, the same six figures are presented on six separate cards and posters, which can be found in various waiting and rest areas throughout the hospital. Each card elaborates on a figure, placing it in a specific historical period and a specific hospital. An original quote from a philosopher, historian, priest, physician and an artist of the period can be found on the back of each card—each quote describing a personal experience or supplying certain facts regarding the hospital as an institution and the corresponding concept of medical treatment at the time.
Aya Ben Ron
In a diverse practice ranging from sculpture, video, drawing, and installation, Aya Ben Ron explores the morbid body, perception of health and normality, and the collective memory of pain in the greatest socio-historical extent. In a continuous process, she examines the interaction between mechanisms of medicine and (health)care. Questions related to the human condition are just as important to her as everyday life in a hospital, the architecture of the hospital or the commercial aspects of scientific research.
The cooperation between Máxima Medical Centre and the Van Abbemuseum
In 2011, Máxima Medical Centre and the Van Abbemuseum signed an agreement to integrate art into everyday life in the hospital in different ways. The hospital and the museum are building a long-term relationship in which art is central to the communication with patients and visitors. Both institutions believe that art contributes to a pleasant environment for patients, visitors and hospital staff.
This artwork, the first in a series of activities, has been made possible with the support of Stichting Máxima, the Mondriaan Fund and KUNSTENISRAËL.
Eindhoven – The Netherlands
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Category: Museum News