Panorama of the Sea / proposal
Panorama Mesdag, painted by Hendrik Willem Mesdag in 1881, is the largest painting in the Netherlands - 14 meters high, in a circle with a circumference of 120 meters. There is a real sand beach on the floor in front of the immense painting. In the middle of it, a kind of lookout post has been built for visitors to see the seascape in all directions. Reality and imagination flow into one another into the illusion of a fabulous seascape. Here and there on the beach there are some washed-up objects, as the beachcomber encountered them in the nineteenth century. My proposal is to provide that beach - that is, the real sand - with a large amount of contemporary find: plastic junk, such as we encounter today on many beaches, polluting and poisoning the seas and oceans.
Nowadays there is a growing attention for marine pollution - in a mere half a century man has soaked the oceans with an unbreakable plastic soup that will float around in the water for many centuries. Following the example of a number of African countries, the EU starts working on a ban on disposable plastics. Even mega-plastic polluter India is trying to come to a ban on the manufacture and sale of this type of plastic. The plastic soup in the sea not only threatens marine life but also ends up in our organs and affects them. There is a growing awareness that action should be taken to stop this self-destructiveness.
The alarming situation of our seas and oceans in this era can be clearly recorded in the nineteenth century seascape of Panorama Mesdag. Precisely because Panorama Mesdag was created to reach people with imagination, we should pollute this image with the image that is threatening life on earth. It mixes colourful imagination with an image of harsh reality. This temporary work will appeal to the people’s awareness that even the most precious art, safely preserved in pristine museums, will be polluted when life gets polluted.
It is a controversial work that will undoubtedly have a great impact, also encounter resistance. However it creates a unique possibility for Panorama Mesdag to show involvement within its own scope: imagining the sea. Thus getting a good opportunity for free and positive publicity. Practically and financially this work is easy to realize, and after a few months, we clean up the junk. I think this can also be a produce a good video: a group of people cleaning up mess on Panorama Mesdag beach.
Against the then prevailing romantic trend The Barbizon School, the artistic direction that Mesdag was drawn to, said to reflect reality. How nice it would be if the Panorama Mesdag once again gave a picture of reality, as it is today. In particular the illusory depiction of the plastic-polluted seascape of Panorama Mesdag will appeal people’s imagination. As if the sea, as Mesdag imagined it, has become polluted over time, as if the pollution of the sea has affected Mesdag's imagination.
The pictures show Panorama Mesdag as it is and how it should be for a while. The other pictures show why this work of art is worth making.