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Indepth Arts News:

"The Leisure Society: The Stringent Planning of our Leisure Time"
2001-02-04 until 2001-02-11
De Vleeshal
Middelburg, , NL Netherlands

The exhibition at De Vleeshal deals with the stringent planning of our leisure time, with Zeeland as a pleasure garden, with second homes as an investment, a temple and a project, with the leisure industry and how it capitalises on our desire to all, simultaneously, be ourselves. However, once disengaged from traditional social structures we are not just free from worry, but also without meaning, charged only with the task of developing and entertaining ourselves. In these circumstances, leisure has acquired special significance. Play is a serious matter to the homo ludens of the 21st century, as it is precisely in his leisure time that he can give meaning to his life and, through his personal choices, reveal his true self.

In recent years, the Dutch - and not just the Dutch - have invested money, time and emotions in leisure on a massive scale, often under the inspired leadership of architects, accountants and real estate developers who have filled the gap in the pleasure market double-quick. Zeeland is the focal point of these developments, and in the space of a few years the province has changed from farming country into the Florida of the Netherlands. Thousands of holiday homes have sprung up along the coast and in the dunes, the number of organised experiences on offer rises daily and the babyboom generation will soon be able to live a recreational life after early retirement.

The leisure industry channels and organises our desires and enables optimum enjoyment, preferably in a second home. For while the first home excels in usefulness and efficiency, the second home symbolises all that is good in life. Here, on a carefully chosen sofa, we can finally take a breather from our busy lives, preferably in leisure wear and with a Bloody Mary. Here, we are far removed from bosses and technology, close to nature and our loved ones, and do only what we feel like doing.

The exhibition has three parts. The first part is informative. Statistics on the rise and importance of the leisure industry are alternated with quotes from various sources, ranging from J.G. Ballard and Arthur Rimbaud to scholarly studies on the subject. Also on exhibit are models of second homes and, for example, visual materials on future holiday parks.

The second part examines the leisure society from an artistic perspective, with paintings by British painter Tim Stoner (London, 1970). Drawing on popular imagery and on painting tradition, Stoners images reflect our everyday (permanently frustrated) desire for higher social status and the ultimate state of sedated sunlit perfection. His faceless subjects - portrayed within a heavenly framework devoid of work and worry - are reminiscent of the generic nuclear families and couples found in holiday brochures. However, by altering the sense of depth, detail and light in the images, Stoner offers us a twisted reflection of our ideal of leisure.

The third part of the exhibition is made up of a pavilion as the period room of the second home. The pavilion has been designed by Zeelenberg Architecture, responsible for many recent holiday parks in Zeeland. In the pavilion, visitors can watch the documentary The Leisure Zone from a luxurious sofa, and, from its roof garden, command a view of the exhibition .

The Leisure Society has been put together by Bregtje van der Haak and Rutger Wolfson. Van der Haak is a film director with DNW and has directed the documentary The Leisure Zone.

Broadcast The Leisure Zone DNW

Further information on the broadcast of The Leisure Zone can be found on our website: http://dnw.vpro.nl


On March 9 a symposium will be held on The Future of Leisure. The programme is as follows:

11 a.m - 1 p.m. Tour of new holiday parks in Zeeland
1 - 2 p.m. Lunch
2 - 3 p.m. Visit to the exhibition and showing of the documentary The Leisure Zone
3 - 4 p.m. Short presentations on The Future of Leisure by:
Hans Mommaas (sociologist)
Henk van Koeveringe (real estate developer Roompot Recreation)
Matthijs Zeelenberg (Zeelenberg Architecture)
Winy Maas (MVDRV Architects)

Admittance to the afternoon session of the symposium is free. The morning session, consisting of the tour and lunch, costs fl.40,--. To sign up, please contact De Vleeshal * 31 (0)118 652200 or office@vleeshal.nl. The symposium will be held in the front of Middelburg town hall, which is situated on de Markt. The entrance can be found on the right of De Vleeshal, or gained through De Vleeshal itself.


Accompanying the exhibition, a small publication will appear with articles by Bregtje van der Haak and sociologist Hans Mommaas and an interview with Tim Stoner. This can be ordered, free of charge, from De Vleeshal, tel: * 31 (0)118 652200.


VPRO Backstage offers a package mini-midweek holiday to Zeeland on February 25 and March 4, including a visit to Nieuw Haamstede, holiday park De Banjaard and the exhibition The Leisure Society. For more information, please call VPRO Backstage at tel.* 31 (0)35-6712585, or mail backstage@vpro.nl.

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