MINE Posthoornkerk solo show, 2019


Marieke Coppens has produced a presentation which is based on the archives of the anonymous scientist. For years, the scientific researcher carried out studies into natural and unnatural geometric shapes. He recorded his many scientific results on tape and created many visual representations, but at the time of his sudden death in 1998, he had not once committed his findings to paper. Neither have these articles ever been published. The scientist bequeathed his life’s work to visual art. Of all the possible beneficiaries, the choice fell on Marieke Coppens because for many years she had lived in a healing cult which had an unnatural geometrical shape as its symbol: the heptagon. The only condition for using the scientist’s archive was that he remain anonymous, to avoid the ignominy of a promising career having been cut short.

Coppens found a screen print of a horse fight in the archives of the scientist. Coppens enlarged this screen print in collaboration with the Textile Museum in Tilburg and translated it into this black-on-black knitwear. A technique that the Textile Museum has never used in this way. The colors of the horses on this handout mark the different bindings of the knitwear.

The writing of the Miao, based on geometric forms, was used in the bindings of the knitwear. The different shades within the colors mark the difference in yarn. Shiny yarn has been used for the light tones, matte yarn for the darker shades.

The anonymous scientist’s archive also contained the metal racks on which the textile works were presented. The overhead projectors are coming also from this archive. Coppens shows the scientist’s research in a very playful way. With this she gives a different life to the research that already more than two decades awaiting a breakthrough.

In the work of Cuypers, the influence of geometric forms is great. Although the influence of natural geometric forms is great in his later work, you will see unnatural geometric forms in the Posthoornkerk. These forms have been incorporated into several works in this presentation. The two knits on the left and right in the clover-shaped choir section. Outside the courtyard, the flags and the basic figure also contain these references. For the flags, Coppens quoted the geometric representation in one of the stained glass windows. To create these shapes, Coppens used the medieval measuring instruments of the anonymous scientist. This makes the figures, in contrast to all digitally manufactured forms, somewhat erratic. The figure of reflective foil in the courtyard is an enlargement of a pillar of the Posthoornkerk, a reference to the earlier presentation of MINE where the pillars in The Glass Palace by the 20th-century architect Peutz were completely covered with that foil.

The anonymous scientist conducted research into, among other things, the use of geometric shapes in the many age-old rituals of the Miao minority group. During these rituals in the rolling landscape in the south of China, people dance in geometric shapes. The Miao appear during these rituals in black traditional costume. Only the women have added brightly colored details to their costumes. Horse fights take place during the most important rituals. The main horse fight takes place on the sixth day of the sixth month in the Chinese lunar calendar and forms the transition ritual from the growing season to the harvest season.

The writing of the Miao is made up of geometric shapes. This script was developed by a British missionary for the Miao, who were illiterate. The anonymous scientist could be one of the few specialists in this script. The discovery of the script has been decisive for the development of the anonymous scientist’s research. Language has also been important for the development of Cuypers. For example, he could only read the texts of his British example Pugin after they had been translated from English into French. Cuypers could not follow Pugin’s development closely.

During the research at the Miao, the scientist was alerted to the rainbow mountains 3000 kilometers north of the Miao. The scientist hoped for a breakthrough in his color-is-form research and rushed north. The scientist did field research there and smuggled several brightly colored stones from China. In his search for building fragments of ornaments in the medieval artisan tradition, Cuypers traveled throughout Europe. He made sketches of the building fragments that he later applied in his own designs. The exhibition shows a representation of the stones that the anonymous scientist smuggled in. The original stones are in a vault of the scientist’s heirs.

Both the horse fights and the rainbow mountains suffer greatly from the pressure of tourism. Unfortunately, the scientist has never experienced this tourist pressure. This broad interest would have strengthened him in his research.

The scientist shaped many of his theories in a three-dimensional model. The anonymous scientist made these models with his medieval measuring instruments. The collection of medieval measuring instruments by the anonymous scientist is very special, Cuypers would have been jealous of it. Coppens has translated these models and made them projectable. She brought together different theories in the various models. The scientist kept a diary of the colors that he saw and displayed these colors in graphs. Coppens has used part of these graphs to present the scientist’s handwriting in a different form.

The anonymous scientist’s archive also contained the statements on which the textile works were presented. The overhead projectors also come from this archive. Coppens shows the scientist’s research in a very playful way. With this she gives a new life to the research that has been waiting for more than two decades for a breakthrough.

In contrast to the sudden death of the anonymous, Cuypers waited for death. For 27 years, on the day his wife died, he lay in bed, waiting for his own death to come.