About the artwork

A hospital is a waiting place. We wait, don't we, for an explanation, a treatment or a medical solution. We arrive filled with uncertainty, with anxiety and above all with the understandable fear of losing control. Yet we must remain patient and await our turn. The waiting period offers diversions such as zapping through TV talk-shows, leafing through drab magazines, or spying upon other patients in an attempt to guess the purpose of their visit – and so avoid thinking of our own. Hospitals are seen as veritable part-replacement facilities, where, with all this emphasis on the machine, there seems to be a clear dividing line between body and soul – the mere thought of which threatens us and fills us with dread.


However, deeper investigation reveals that since the dawn of hospital history, from the days of the temple of Aesclepius, Roman God of Medicine, and the use of an architectural structure to house a variety of medicinal solutions, it is precisely in this place that we are expected to pay close attention to those selfsame fears and anxieties.


Why then do we avoid doing this?


All is Well is situated in the hospital to provide a special place of contemplation and quiet reflection. It is an attempt at rehabilitating and treating, first and foremost our will to escape.


The work consists of a reflecting pool (4 meters in diameter), with six stainless-steel figures (each approx. 2.5x1 meter) hovering above. Each figure refers to a different botanical element, and all hover above the pool without touching the water.


Throughout the hospital, the same six figures are presented on six separate cards in Perspex stands, on tables in the various waiting areas or as posters hanging on the walls and corridors inside the various wards.


Each card elaborates on a figure, placing it in a specific historical period and a specific hospital: the city square of the Babylonian kingdom, the Temple of Aesclepius in Epidaurus in ancient Greece, St. Samson of 6th Century Constantinople, the Bimaristan of 12th Century Damascus, the Hôtel-Dieu de Paris in the French capital of the 18th Century. The figure in the last card resides in the Maxima Medisch Centrum in 21st Century Eindhoven. An original quote from a philosopher, historian, priest, physician and an artist of the period can be found on the back of each card – each quote describing a personal experience or supplying certain facts regarding the hospital as an institution and the corresponding concept of medical treatment at the time. Additional pieces of information throw light on the development of the hospital as architectural structure, describing how each was adapted to changing historical circumstances.    



The cards help us grasp the similarities between our ideas of private sickness and public treatment facilities, past and present, and thereby realize that in spite of advanced technology and research, bolstered by medicine and sophisticated treatments, human beings – in sickness or in health – have still not found satisfactory answers. Apparently, the answers are not to be found in this or that treatment. For, in the end, death remains an irreversible certainty that awaits us all with infinite patience. It might be that this absoluteness can serve as an unexpected source of comfort – it allows us to surrender at a certain point. The idea behind All Is Well is to try and suggest to viewers that despite the malfunction, reversible or not, that may permeate body and soul at whatever age or period, all is well.   






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