Swings and Gallows. Why put so much energy into creating an installation?

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Installations - Swings and Gallows

Why put so much energy in creating an installation? You can seldom sell them and especially when they are custom made for a specific space, when the event is over, the work is gone too. Luckily Nathalie Abbing never asks herself these questions. Her first and most important goal in her work is to give the audience an experience, a kind of thought gift. For Nathalie an installation is often the ultimate way of creating and experiencing art. It’s up to the artist to decide how much of the space and surrounding is part of the installation. Nathalie prefers to use a whole room for her installations and uses as much of the quality and history as possible. By using the complete space there is ample room to work with and tell the story. The difficulty lies in the fact that everything in that space, even the smallest detail, is significant and can work with or against the installation. With a good installation the whole space breathes the story and the spectator can feel like entering a different world.


To play or to die, proceed or refuse? Nathalie Abbing struggles with choices and expectations. Under the rafters of the old gunpowder storage house hangs the work of art Swings and Gallows. Made from thick rope and centuries old wood, even with little tapered stools under the gallows, it all looks original, like it has been there for ages. With this installation Nathalie brings two extremes closer together.

Nathalie: “One of the visitors at this exhibition was a little girl, accompanied by her parents, who loved the installation. As soon as she entered the room and saw the swings she could not resist to try them out. She swung as high as she could, screaming with joy. This was allright because I made everything fit for use anyway. After the little girl was through swinging she walked over to one of the gallows. Her little hand could just about reach the rope when she asked her mother: Mammy, what can I do with this one?"

Of course I made sure that she could not try that one out as well but this little scene showed me the essence of the installation.

I believe that everything in life is a choice, some choices are obvious and miles apart, others are not so clear and may be harder to distinguish. Even the decision not to choose is a choice.

I have had quite some difficulties with the choices I made in life for they were not always positive for me and the people around me. Now I am glad that I finally chose, just like that little girl, for the swings and can play again.”

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