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Stedelijk Museum Schiedam until 17 March 2024

23 September 2023 - 17 March 2024
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From September 23, the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam will be presenting its latest acquisition, Levi van Veluw’s Planetary Chapel (2021), in a blue, tranquil space specially designed for the piece. Externally, the work resembles a modern interpretation of a small altar. It features an ingenious mechanism, designed by Van Veluw himself, which opens the hatches and reveals an extraordinary interplay of rotating golden planets.

Tranquil and magical
Museum director Anne de Haij described her encounter with Planetary Chapel as ‘a tranquil, magical experience’. ‘You want to share it with as many people as possible. Following the announcement of the acquisition, we received many requests, especially on social media, from people wanting to come and experience the work for themselves. We are delighted to be able to respond to those requests with this presentation.’ Artist Levi van Veluw made the piece – which features polymer clay, gold leaf and a brass mechanism – entirely by hand. Van Veluw (1985) creates installations, sculptures, drawings and films, many of which are based on his childhood memories. The 70-centimetre-high, blue-marbled work is a sight to behold even when closed. But the spectacle really begins when the hatches open. The inside of the artwork features a subtly moving tableau of rotating spheres, reminiscent of a golden planetarium. The delicate interior is inspired by Solomon’s Temple, one of the earliest religious temples said to have been entirely lined with gold. Here Van Veluw combines his own personal memories of his religious childhood and his fascination with why and how religion uses ritual objects, which can evoke an almost spiritual experience in believers, with his interest in science.

Silent performance
The Stedelijk Museum Schiedam is committed to helping as many people as possible enjoy art and history. One way of achieving this is by organising an exhibition comprising several works that tell a very specific story. Another way is through an intimate encounter with a single work of art. This concept is something the museum previously explored in 2019-2020, when it offered the public a one-to-one experience with a work by Mark Rothko. This time, visitors will be able to attend a ‘silent performance’ lasting just a few minutes, during which they will experience the Planetary Chapel up close and perhaps even have a spiritual encounter. At set times every Saturday and Sunday (around 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm), a member of the museum staff will switch on the artwork with a brief ritual. You do not need to book in advance. When you arrive at the museum, simply inform the staff that you would like to attend the performance.

The Stedelijk Museum Schiedam acquired Levi van Veluw’s Planetary Chapel (2021) for its collection in June 2023. The purchase was funded entirely by a grant awarded by the Mondriaan Fund for acquisition programmes.