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The Peanut-Butter Platform by Wim T. Schippers at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museum personnel smear the floor with peanut butter, as they prepare the art installation 'Peanut-Butter Platform' at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The artwork called Peanut-Butter Platform by Dutch artist Wim T. Schippers was acquired by the Museum last December and will exhibit the work publicly from 05 March 2011. EPA/MARCO DE SWART.

ROTTERDAM.- An exhibition centred around the controversial ‘Peanut-Butter Platform’ by Wim T. Schippers opens during the Rotterdam Museum Night. This is the first time that the floor sculpture, which was recently acquired by the museum, has been exhibited in Rotterdam.

The ‘Peanut-Butter Platform’ (1962) by Wim T. Schippers was acquired for Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen collection in December 2010. From this spring, the floor will be on show in a presentation that includes other works by the artist from the collection, such as the floating stone, ‘Het Is Me Wat / And Now What’s Up’ (1999), and ‘Eggs’ (1966), a white carpet of interwoven swabs that is strewn with green eggs. Covering a floor with peanut butter is an example of the conceptual modus operandi of this artist, who through his art aims to show that in principle everything is meaningless and absurd, but is therefore worth the effort nevertheless. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is delighted about the acquisition and the exhibition. ‘This is one of the most important acquisitions made in 2010,’ said Sjarel Ex, the museum’s Director.

The peanut butter installation by Wim T. Schippers is a work which can be realised in various ways. In Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, in contrast with other realisations, the floor sculpture will not be perfectly square. The ‘Peanut-Butter Platform’ consists of a frame-like structure that is filled to the desired thickness with a given quantity of peanut butter. The presentation includes a video of interviews with Wim T. Schippers and with the art collector Harry Ruhé, thus shedding light on the work’s creation and meaning. This film also reveals how the floor was realised and it will be posted on the museum’s ArtTube video channel. Because the ‘Peanut-Butter Platform’ tends to stir up emotional responses and prompt questions among the public, museum visitors can record a video (called: ‘Peanut-Butter Post’) with a question for Wim T. Schippers. Schippers will answer selected questions via a webcam, and these questions and answers will be screened in the gallery as well as on ArtTube.

Endive and spinach
The ‘Peanut-Butter Platform’ boasts a long and notorious history. It was conceived about 40 years ago and was first realised at Gallery Mickery in Loenersloot, the Netherlands. The Centraal Museum in Utrecht also installed the floor during its Schippers retrospective in 1997. The ‘Peanut-Butter Platform’ was conceived in a specific context and is part of a whole series of floor sculptures by Schippers. He began producing floor sculptures in 1962 at Museum Fodor, where he completely covered one gallery in salt and filled another with broken pieces of sheet glass, and it was here that the idea for the ‘Peanut-Butter Platform’ originated. At a later exhibition in Galerie Amstel ’47 (Amsterdam), Schippers once again worked with materials on the floor and for an exhibition in Felix Valk’s Gallery ’20 (the later Galerie Jaki Kornblitt) he conceived a floor of cooked spinach. The gallery owner did not think this was such a good idea, so the artist proposed using endive.

Setting tongues wagging
Wim T. Schippers (1942) is a television and radio producer, author and visual artist. His voice is renowned as the voice of Ernie in the Dutch version of Sesame Street and from Dutch TV programmes of the 1960s and ’70s such as Hoepla, Fred Haché and Sjef van Oekel. As an artist, Schippers is renowned for his hotly discussed conceptual works, such as the floating rock sculpture, ‘Het Is Me Wat / And Now What’s Up’ from 1999, a colossal chunk of stony material that is held in a hovering position above a plinth by three large electromagnets. This work was lent out for the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010, but has now returned to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Central to Wim T. Schippers philosophy is that life makes no sense at all, which has on several occasions given rise to heated controversy about his work.

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