Arne Quinze developed a cluster of sculptures under the name Rock Strangers for the town of Ostend: strange objects that pop up at places where you would least expect to find them. They have a striking effect on the urban and architectural context of their surroundings. With his sculptures Quinze is criticizing the increasing trend to uniformity in the townscape.
“Rocks Strangers are strange objects popping up where you least expect them and having a huge effect on the urban and architectural context of the environment. Rocks Strangers generate the sentiment of estrangement because of their electric orange colour. At the same time however, they evoke the primal emotions of curiosity and astonishment of man.” – Arne Quinze
People tend to seek a safe environment, a cocoon eliminating the unexpectable. Arne Quinze is especially interested in the human relations and interactions, how life and society are organized. Not only do people put up walls around them for protection, but they also want to create a certain distance between themselves and others. People need these axioms in order to feel good.
The artist used his imagination round these findings in order to put the idea of an alien element in the city. What would happen if we detected a strange element in our habitual urban environment all of the sudden? How do we react to unusual objects if we are confronted with them in our daily lives? Who or what remains the stranger, the person confronted with it or the object itself?
Rocks Strangers stimulate openness and bring different views and groups in society to the forefront. Quinze’s public installations redefine social space as a context of maximum porosity, flexible, and facilitating experiential flows of diverse nature which provide alternative models of interaction. Because of this intense orange-red colour the sculptures contrast with their natural surroundings. The red-orange colour has a myriad of meanings, in nature it can attract or repulse at the same time. It is the colour of the blood that symbolizes death or life. It may not be a natural colour but when seeing it people are completely absorbed by it, again introducing possible reactions of people.
During the renovation of the Heroes of the Sea Square, the city of Ostend’s ambitions turned out to be great. This did not just mean renovating the square, but also turning it into a genuine hotspot. A recognizable place where everyone wants to be, a great place to dwell and where everyone can not only enjoy the sea to the utmost, but is also urged to contemplate on both the city as well as himself. The city of Ostend therefore immediately opted for the integration of a permanent monumental work of art in this location. ‘Rock Strangers’, Arne Quinze’s first metal installation, which has a diameter of 100 metres, is part of the official selection for Beaufort04, the Triennial of Contemporary Art at the Belgian coast.
For a lot of people, Ostend functions as a final destination. A city by the sea, at land’s end. Many end up here and never leave again. Strange elements appear and contribute to the ‘multi’- society, which Ostend is turning into. The ‘Rock Strangers’ sculpture embodies these ideas. ‘Rock Strangers’ appear where you would least expect them to. Their characteristic electric orange colour provides a sharp contrast to their natural surroundings and accentuates the alienating effect they evoke. people feel attracted to these ‘Rock Strangers’ because they are curious about what is happening in this place. In addition, they also wonder what they mean in their surroundings. They appear to have been washed up on the Heroes of the Sea Square, directly from the sea. But how did they come to be there? This work of art raises questions. What happens if strange elements suddenly appear in my environment, in my city? How do we react to unusual objects when we are suddenly confronted with them in our everyday life? Who or what is actually the stranger among us: the object or the passer-by? Many answers lie in the openness and freedom that people experience or express during the acceptance of strange elements which they are confronted with.
People tend to build up a safe cocoon around them, which cannot be penetrated by strange elements or the unexpected. It is as if the walls that they have built around themselves still are not sufficient. We seem to be distancing ourselves more and more from other people.
Name: Rock Strangers
Location: Albert I-promenade, 8400 Ostend, Belgium
Coordinates: 51.235546, 2.918842
Event: Beaufort04 – the Triennial of Contemporary Art at the Belgian coast