Contemporary Art in medieval cellars; project “Traject”, 1994

On the wharves along the canals of Utrecht, it seems as if time stands still. 16 artists were inspired by the contrasts between the bustle of the city and the stillness of the water, life above and below ground, past and present. They each chose one of the vaulted cellars, and created an image or installation for it. The result was an exhibition along the Oude Gracht Utrecht, where the variety of medieval cellars and the diversity of contemporary art works resulted in a surprising exhibition.

Spoons, Oudegracht 62, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Ines Den Rooijen's installation refered to the role the middle class played in the original function of the cellars. In the vaulted cellar Oudegracht 62 Den Rooijen created a store that offered products for sale, presented in glass cabinets with steel frames, brightly lit by halogen lamps. The buyer purchased the items in a clear plastic box. The product itself, like the cellars, had lost its function; the store only sold spoons with a hole in them. An extraordinary everyday object; not a thing to look at in admiration, but to take in your hands, giving you an experience. Because the holes were made by hand, no two spoons were exactly alike. For the occasion the artist presented herself as a small shopkeeper, in a place where originally more basic necessities were traded, she relied on "magpies" as her customers, who let themselves be seduced by a curious but useless object. The buyers of the spoons were not only customers but also employees of the artist, ensuring that the image installed in the vaulted cellar gradually spread out over the upper world.