Art doesn't have to look like art to be art

Detail of the painting titled 'awake in the dark' with the monkey pipes from the Surinam rainforest.

It was the summer of 2006 when we were in the rainforest of Surinam, a former Dutch colony in Latin America. A great trip and a fantastic experience, seen lots of strange animals, camped in the open and swam where the piranhas were supposed to be not swimming at the time we were using there paradise. During a long and exhausting walk through the forest with two guides we found strange 'gismo’s’ under a huge tree. Local inhabitants call these type of trees ‘telephone tree’ since they use them as a communication tool by hitting it with a heavy object. The sound that was gained was enormous and could be heard miles and miles beyond. Those things we found on the ground were called Monkey Pipes in local maroon language. A fruit that looked like a pipe and a delicacy for howler monkeys. It came to my mind that every time I picked up one of those monkey pipes I was thinking of somebody. So I decided to collect some of them to give them a new life. Took them all the way to Europe to my studio and dedicated them to all of my friends. I mounted them on canvas and each of them was given a name of one of my intimates. Allan Kaprow once said that 'Art doesn’t have to look like art to be art’. My monkey pipes were given a new context, and will last forever as pieces of an artwork. It’s the first of ‘the friendship series’ using all kinds of natural material I associate with my friends and our friendship.