a special work of art for the universtiy library
find out where you stand
a special work of art for the universtiy library

In the winter of 2018, an art committee from UB collaborates with the KEC, the art and heritage committee to realize a work of art for the mezzanine of the UB.

Carin Klompen, Peter Verberne, Monique Dikboom and Hans Rademacher of the University Library and Mieke Derickx of the KEC first mapped out what this artwork should meet and what it should express.

Due to its past, the library is a combination of old architectural elements such as the wooden staircase and modern architecture. The mezzanine with the large glass roof and open spaces testify to the modern integrations.The interspace provides an image of students, study places, bookcases that is repeated over three floors. The students give a pleasant dynamic to this space and create the experience of a beehive where students fly in and out. The interspace or vide  which literally translates as emptiness, could be a special place for art. And as the artwork group of the UB indicates, art can radiate a concentration of togetherness and can be seen from three floors.

The working group opts for the content of the artwork to be about the relationship students have with books or other media; the knowledge that you look up for your study in any way, and how you relate to it in your study, the time in which you live and the place in the world where you are.

The working group unanimously chooses Kathrin Schlegel from a number of artists. Like no other she knows how to involve people in her process to create a work of art that is made especially for the place every time. The artwork find out where you stand has grown and has taken various forms. The work consists of tightly lit letters on the wall of the mezzanine, which together form the text find out where you stand. Further on, the content of the work is explained in more detail.

A lot of work has been done to realize the artwork sustainably and to make students aware of the energy use as part of the artwork. Peter Verberne has committed himself to this with unremitting energy and continues to realize this part of the work.

find out where you stand is a five meters long light artwork by Amsterdam-based artist Kathrin Schlegel, engaging with the Special Collections of Maastricht University. Maastricht University Library houses and preserves these heritage collections and stimulates their usage in research and teaching activities. The tenth edition of the Mercator-Hondius atlas, a renaissance atlas dating from 1628, is a remarkable artifact within these collections. This atlas is ecclesiastical heritage of the Catholic parish H. Remigius and has been held behind closed doors in the vault of the Simpelveld sacristy and rectory until it was given on long-term loan to the University Library in 2015.

Cosmographer Gerard Mercator engraved (world) maps, constructed globes, invented the Mercator projection named after him and coined the term ‘atlas’ to describe a collection of maps in book form. The atlas in question, Atlas sive Cosmographicae Meditationes de Fabrica Mundi et Fabricati Figura, in English Atlas, or Cosmographic Meditations on the Fabric of the World and the Figure of the Fabrick'd, contains more than 150 maps coloured by hand which are, notable for their detailed depiction of the world then known to its makers. 

Mapmaking can be seen as an attempt to form an understanding and an image of the world around us and our place within it – an imprint that has literally and figuratively been coloured by the worldview of its makers. A map is never an exact nor complete representation of reality. A map is a subjective interpretation of the cartographer, depending on the purpose of the map as well as the time and society in which it has been created. Questioning how a worldview comes about formed the basis for the light artwork. The work of art is embedded in the mezzanine of the University Library’s reading room, located at the Looierstraat. It invites to think through one's positions, not only in geographical but as much in socio-political dimensions, when studying and opening up perspectives on the world. 

The artist’s intention to create a light artwork with a minimal environmental footprint ties in with the university’s aspiration towards sustainable energy consumption. Maastricht University has, for example, invested in a local solar park recently. Together the artist and the artwork-group initiated a development process to link information about the energy consumption of the university, and in particular the building in which the artwork has been embedded, to the amount of electricity generated by the solar park. The aim is to make this information visible on the general information screens to stimulate reflection on the environmental impact of our actions and thus make climate awareness part of daily routine. Furthermore, the artist will allocate part of the art budget to a foundation which plants trees and restores existing forests all over the world to (somewhat) increase CO2 capture and storage.

mieke derickx

© 2022 Art and Heritage Commission, Maastricht University