Arnoud Holleman

Amsterdam — Tuesday 05 December, 2023
nl / en

Call me

immaterial artwork, city of Zwolle

Monologue for Rodin's Adam in the city of Zwolle.
Audio tape, 4 copper plates, telephone number and poster campaign, 2006.

monologue for Rodin's Adam in the city of Zwolle.
audio tape, 4 copper plates, telephone number and poster campaign, 2006.

Originating from 1881, Rodin's sculpture of Adam was recast in 1964 and eventually placed on the Groote Kerkplein in Zwolle. In 2006, 4 copper plates with inscription 'CALL ME 0900.4004242' were attached to its pedestal. The telephone number is connected to a 7 minute audio track in which Adam shares his subjective views on his existence. A double sided A0 poster campaign accompanied the launch of the project. Monologue performed by Jeroen Willems. Poster design Jop van Bennekom.

Click audio track first, then chose image.

full text:

Dit is het telefoonnummer van Adam op het grote kerkplein in Zwolle. This is the telephone number of Adam on the Grote Kerkplein in Zwolle. Voor Nederlands toets 1, for English press 2.

Hey, you looking at me? What on earth are you looking at! It's not like I'm waiting for the bus you know...

Where have you been, for God’s sake? Where were you? Do you have any idea how long I’ve been waiting?

And all the time all I can ever see is my feet, some paving stones and my penis. It’s a totally different colour than the rest of me. Cause you people can’t keep your hands off it.

Tell me, does it really point towards the church? Well so what! Without me there wouldn’t have been a church in the first place.

They say that angry citizens complained when I first got here. ‘The naked truth is surely unsuited for the general public!’ Really? Forty years! For forty years I’ve been stuck in this position and you’ve been feeling my crotch or pulling my finger. But in the meantime, in public, you solemnly say things like ‘Adam is clearly already experiencing shame for the impending Fall, since everything about his body is turned inwards, contorted, tense and constrained.’

It’s either filthy thoughts or intellectual blah-blah, and nothing in between. Look closer. More closer. Look at me! You hear me?! If there’s any reason for me to be ashamed, it’s you. The only reason I’m standing in front of the town hall is because I happened to have been ‘created’ by a world-famous sculptor: Rodin, the genius of deep emotions and existential gestures. Yeah right. The way I’m standing here, Rodin is the only person who’s never once laid a finger on me. He was already dead for half a century by the time I was cast.
But who cares. Ooh la la, Rodin! That’s going to need a good spot: right in the middle, in the centre of the centre. All in the honour of the Royal Commissioner, Ridder de van der Schueren, upon his retirement. Every inhabitant of Overijssel donated a quarter as a collective gesture of gratitude. Symbolically speaking - the business community paid the big share.

Ridder de van der Schueren had a motto. ‘Man lives on through the fruits of his labour’. There’s not a soul that bothers to read his name on the little plaque anymore. And then there was Dirk Hannema, a good chum of Ridder de van der Schueren. Hannema’s the one who had me brought here, but two of the fruits of his labour turned his entire life sour: his being on the wrong side during the War and wrong in his decision to purchase the painting of The Men of Emmaus by Vermeer, which turned out to have been painted by Han Van Meegeren.

Later, Hannema saw Vermeers everywhere. The intuition of a discredited museum director running wild. A fixer all his life. He had his connections at Musée Rodin. That’s the only reason I’m standing here: Prestige - I was supposed to be the start of a sculpture trail running throughout the whole - well, of course, Hannema was a homosexual! He could have easily bought Balzac or The Thinker, but he chose me instead. Rodin’s entire ouevre was on sale in the early sixties. He was always surrounding himself with handsome young men. He just never did anything with it. Non toccare. He was an aesthete. Married to his dog: Jeroen Briard de la Richesse.

I wonder how he bargained with the Musée Rodin? I’ll bet no one there had ever heard of Zwolle. And how was Paris supposed to know how one could be wrong in the Netherlands during the war. Nowadays, the Musée Rodin, too, is being rather sketchy about its past. Archives always have skeletons in the closet. We were being cast by the hundreds simultaneously.

As if Rodin, back in 1881, was concerned about the number of copies that were made! If the state had decided in those days that I was to stand on every village square in France with my penis pointing towards the church, Rodin would have gladly obliged them. Whoever had money was welcome to buy - as many as they wanted.

But now? Ooh la la. Law suits here, law suits there. About so called ‘authenticity’. All because of a law stating that up to twelve reproductions of a work will retain the status of an authentic work of art. Why? The master’s hand is recognisable in every cast, no?

There are known fakes on which not Rodin’s name was forged, but rather the name of the caster, in order to make them look authentic.

800 hours of hard and anonymous labour at the caster. Men who worked themselves into an early grave for a fraction of the 90,000 guilders the Musée Rodin earned over my back. Do they live on through the fruits of their labour? Hell no. They are the ones who did the work that Rodin had signed for. It’s not for nothing that his signature is so large. All doubts must be erased. A real Rodin, the man who modeled in clay to equal God. The man who wanted to equal God through the fruits of his labour. Copyright Musée Rodin, 1964. My papers are in order. I’m okay, completely legitimate. Genuine. I won’t be banished. Well if this is paradise, let me out.

Even though Rodin basically copied most of me from Michelangelo. My extended finger is from the Sistine Chapel, my stiff neck comes from one of the slaves and otherwise I’m a mix of propped-up reclining figures on the tombs of the Medici’s in Florence. Who’s still talking about ‘original’? Or ‘authentic’? Forget true emotions translated into clay. His boundless copying ‘ that’s what was really modern.

Is that truth naked enough? Here I am, a copy of a copy of a copy of plagiarism. Unsitespecific. Unrooted. Undead. Trapped in Zwolle. And it looks like I’ll be here for a while, as an expensive pearch for pigeons.

And by the way: could somebody please tell me why they’ve put me with my back to the square? I shouldn’t even be on a square in the first place.

In the garden of the Musée Rodin, I’m standing half in the bushes. In Kyoto I had turned white from all the exhaust fumes before they took me inside. In Munich I was lost when the Glaspalast went up in flames in 1931. In Perth I got sprayed with nitric acid.

In New York I’m in a museum that gets 4,000 visitors every day. But most of them never even see me. The vast majority of those people only ever look at the statue next to me, The Gates of Hell, since they are way more imposing, way more famous and way more narrative than I am. If only I could enter.

And if they do look at me, their eyes go straight to the signature or my you-know-what... the external celebration of male sexuality. Even if I were to do a little pirouette, it’s simply not about me at all. Not anymore. They introduce you with great ceremony and place you in a prestigious spot, but - even though I’m the forefather of the entire human race - then they leave you to fend for yourself.

So how long have you been looking at me now? Six minutes? Seven maybe? Eight? Nine? You think that’s enough? Compared to all I've had to go through? Is that the fruit of your labour that you want to be remembered for? What is it that you saw? A real Rodin? Or 310 kilos of bronze, ready to be melted down for something else...? Or a creature that might be capable of living, might want to live?

The real Adam at least had the opportunity to rebel against his creator.

I’m going to hang up in a minute. But first take a closer look at the thing I’m standing on. Initially I stood hígher, even higher than the Musée Rodin had prescribed. The height of my pedestal now is much lower than the Musée Rodin had prescribed. It says more about the mania of democratisation that swept over this country in the seventies. Adam needs to be out among the people more. Everything had to change, hence the revamping of ‘79. It would have been better not to have a pedestal at all. Now it’s basically just a bench for people to sit on... with their backs to me!

So, have a seat! I rest my case. This is how it goes. I’m turned away from mankind; you are turning your backs on me.

Do you hear me... hey you!... hello!

If only I could smoke.


End of message. Adam was written by Arnoud Holleman and performed by Jeroen Willems, commissioned by the City of Zwolle with the support of SKOR, foundation for art and public space.