Winy Maas: “Loyalty has its limits”
Mr. Maas, as an architect and urbanist, how do you strike a balance between form and function?
The interesting thing is that function is quite a wide word. A building can also function as a symbol of pride in an environment. With The Market Hall, a fresh food market I designed in Rotterdam in 2004, it’s more than only a supermarket — it became like an emblem for the city and that is also a function for it. You want to keep it, and more people from outside the city come to visit because of it. I love that the form somehow finds this function and results in a message or a wider perspective of its meaning. So this ping-pong game of function and form is essential. There are more functions than purely the programmatic.
With that kind of thinking, the mundane and the every day can really be brought to life.
Right, I think in every project you have to deal with day-to-day elements and somehow bring that into a wider perspective. You somehow hope that people are going to use it and are inspired to use that structure and that they start to love it. A building is supposed to be useful in your day-to-day life, but day-to-day life also means that you want that building to stay there, you know? It also becomes part of your day-to-day life.
Mona Hatoum: “It’s about shattering the familiar”
Ms. Hatoum, do you see darkness in your art?
I think your personal experience shapes the way you view the world around you. With 15 years of civil war in Lebanon and conflict in the Middle East ever since I can remember, there is nothing very uplifting about it and this inevitably filters through my work. So, yes, there is darkness but there is lightness as well. There are often two sides to each piece, not just one meaning. Duality and contradictions exist in most of the work: darkness and light, heaviness and humor, beauty and danger…
Humor? That’s surprising — I don’t see a lot of humor in a piece like The Negotiating Table, for example.
Well, take my performance piece Roadworks, for instance. I walked around the streets of Brixton dragging heavy Dr. Martens boots — the boots that the police and skin heads used to wear — behind my bare feet so that you have the symbol of vulnerability, this woman being followed by the boots of the state and racist thugs. But it is a surreal and humorous gesture. People interacted with it! I kept hearing comments like, “Oh, the Invisible Man,” “Does she know she’s being followed?” I like using humor to deflate those heavy situations. There are also contradictions in the installation Light Sentence. The rigidity of the cages is contradicted by the fluidity of the moving shadows. It’s both mesmerizing, beautiful but also disturbing.