The famous song “Innsbruck, I Must Leave You” by Heinrich Isaac (1450 – 1515) plays softly on the polished bronze speakers in the Studio Job Wunderkammer.
”Insbruck, ich muß dich laßen ich far dohin mein straßen, in fremde land dohin, mein freud ist mir genomen, die ich nit weiß bekummen, wo ich im elend bin.
Groß leid muß ich jetzt tragen, das ich allein thu klagen dem liebsten bulen mein. ach lieb, nun laß mich armen im herzen dein erbarmen, daß ich muß von dannen sein.
Mein trost ob allen weiben, dein tu ich ewig bleiben, stet, treu, der eren frum. nun muß dich Got bewaren, in aller tugent sparen,biß das ich wider kumm.”
Studio Job Wunderkammer: The term Wunderkammer is a generic term that originated in the early Middle Ages when wealthy individuals, dignitaries and royal houses in England, Germany, Italy, France and Austria added a special wing to their castles to display rarities and gifts. These were often unusual and bizarre objects from the arts and crafts and the early sciences and medicine. In fact, these were the first expressions of what we now call “the museum.” The difference, of course, was that these Wunderkammer were shown only to the upper-class visitors to the castles. These miniature private museums came about as a pastime and as a way to impress their guests.
The early Wunderkammer were “simply decorated” parts of existing rooms in which the so-called Curiosity Cabinets were placed. As time passed, the phenomenon developed and the whole room (walls, floors, cabinets) was decorated entirely in style. As the sciences developed more autonomously from the 19th century and distanced themselves from the visual professions, the Wunderkammer became more associated with extreme expressions of craftsmanship and the visual arts. A present-day Wunderkammer is a total experience. As in a knitted fabric, all things in the Wunderkammer are connected with each other. Everything is about the experience. A different world, you are surprised when you walk inside. The architectural symmetry, the monumental Centerpiece, the endless detail, the extreme use of materials, graphics and dimensions: macro, micro. The Swarovski museum is a labyrinth of styles and influences. Adding a new dimension to this labyrinth was an exciting challenge. We decided – as usual – to remain close to ourselves, because personality creates originality. The starting point for our work is a classical-architectural approach, in which symmetry and grid are self-evident.
The seemingly strict context actually gives us the freedom to shape our ideas with full expression. Entering through a beautiful double door, you come into an expansive circular space 9 meters across. You immediately see that the entire space is part of a total installation. You see monumental paneling and large, round stained glass windows with daylight shining behind them, so it looks like the windows open onto an outdoor area. In a kaleidoscopic fashion, the stained glass portrays the views of a greatly enlarged diamond. The surfaces in the classical panels are covered with specially designed wallpaper. Around the room are bronze wall lights that are both classical and contemporary in design. Everything is polychrome, lustrous and glistening. There is a surreal, monumental and colorful atmosphere. In the middle is a huge, round Paper table. This table has polished bronze elements, and surrounding it is a wonderful cast railing with rope that keeps the proper distance between the viewer and the large sculpture that is placed centrally on the table. This mega centerpiece portrays a large-scale mountain-and-train landscape. The object is composed entirely of bronze elements that are gilded silvered, hand-painted and polished. The jagged mountain peaks are dusted in light snow in the form of inlaid crystal. Just below is a castle inspired by the famous Neuschwanstein castle that was designed by the “Michael Jackson of the 19th century,” Ludwig II.
This magnificent building is also extremely varied and set apart by the use of materials and color. In the mountains of this extreme sculpture, many activities and attractions can be seen. For example, there are train tracks that wind down over the rocks of the mountain and forest landscape. A bizarre steam locomotive that resembles the famous Flying Scotsman from the early 20th century rides over the rails. But the landscape also incorporates local houses, a Swarovski factory, castle Neuschwanstein, the Kremlin, the Big Ben, the Statue of Liberty, a statue of Napoleon, a statue of David, the Antwerp Central Station, a mine shaft, tunnels and bridges. The landscape is even adorned with a helicopter platform between the trees, where a Chinook helicopter has just landed.
As if the president of the USA has come to visit. The whole is reminiscent of the life’s work of an eccentric model builder who, with angelic patience, has created an immense project in his attic. The remarkable difference is that this is the most extreme and expressive form of the phenomenon: a cottage craft that has taken on supernatural proportions. In that sense, this gold-plated, polished, painted, inlaid and magnificent landscape looks more like a masterpiece from the bizarre workshops of Johan Melchior Dinglinger, who furnished the Wunderkammer for Augustus II the Strong. To date, these works are still decisive for the history of the applied arts. – Job Smeets, Antwerp, May 2015
“This Renaissance “Room of Wonders” is an elaborate, total work of art, the sort that you can only create a few of during your physical existence. As was common in ancient applied arts it combines a host of ingredients. It is a work of love filled with frivolous expression and accomplished handicraft. But above all, this wondrous room is about saying goodbye.
About letting go of what once seemed to have no end.” – Job Smeets, Antwerp 2015
Polished and patinate bronze, Swarovski crystals, 24K gilding, silver leaf, polychrome hand paintings, stained glass, paper mache, laser cut mirrors, Exposize digital printing, Senso cast flooring, mixed media, Westminster clock works, Piko electric trains and motors, LED and TL lighting, audio