Homo Bulla Est
Man is a bubble. A person may look very solid and substantial, but our life is as floating as a bubble, insubstantial and very fragile. (quote by Erasmus)
The Homo Bulla theme
Homo Bulla Est is a quote by Erasmus, a famous Dutch theologian, philosopher, writer and humanist (1466-1536). The Homo Bulla theme in art has existed for centuries. In seventeenth-century vanitas paintings and engravings by Jan Steen, Barent Fabritius and Hendrik Goltzius, children blow soap bubbles or fill pig bladders with air. It seems innocent childish entertainment, but the opposite is true. It is a warning about the mortality of life. Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden has in collection a vanitas still life by David Bailly from 1651. Here too, the soap bubble point to the brevity of existence before they burst.
The Flour Factory
Since 2013 the work area of Inge Reisberman has been the former industrial heritage site De Meelfabriek (flour factory) in Leiden. After a long period of vacancy, the factory is being redeveloped into a complex of ultramodern homes, businesses, hotel and wellness centre.
She was able to work on site until spring 2021: in the bare stripped buildings of concrete and steel and amidst all the construction and demolition activities. The disappearance of the original Meelfabriek and the transition to the new destination seem to fit in nicely with a ‘reincarnating’ Homo Bulla theme. Paying a last tribute to the old factory and its history of labour and workers was also a point of departure for her.
She filmed and photographed in De Meelfabriek from 2013 to 2021. The video series Natures Mortes (2013-2015), Respice Finem (2017-2019) and Homo Bulla (2019-2021) were all shooted here.
More information you’ll find here.
Vanitas painting by David Bailly from 1651. With soap bubbles and skull. Collection Museum De Lakenhal
The Homo Bulla theme in art has existed for centuries. On seventeenth-century vanitas paintings and engravings by Jan Steen, Barent Fabritius, and Hendrik Goltzius children blow soap bubbles or they fill pig’s bladders with air. You may think it seems innocent child amusement, the opposite is true. This is a warning about the fleeting nature of life. Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden owns a vanitas painting by David Bailly from 1651. Here, too, the soap bubbles point to the shortness of existence before they burst.
About videoseries Respice Finem – triptych in collection
Like the Romantic artists, Reisberman’s work evokes an indefinable religious feeling. A feeling that is suggested by the Romantics due to the overwhelming beauty of nature, and in Reisberman’s videos through the intangibility of the ‘elements’. The German historian Rüdiger Safranski called Romanticism ‘the continuation of religion using aesthetic methods.
About videoseries Natures Mortes – triptych in collection
Her video installations are characterized by a balanced relationship between poetry and rawness, between craftsmanship and imagination, in which content and environment come together in a conceptual and sensory way.
The carefully constructed accompanying sounds boost the intense experience of the film in a subtle, but present way. The videos take the viewer into a state of utter concentration and are enchanting in their simplicity.
The term ‘eyes oblique’, perceiving something from the corner of your eye, fits her work. By means of delay, by magnification of the image, sometimes by sound or all of that at the same time, a different world is shown, which exists at the same time as ours. The carefully constructed accompanying sounds amplify the intense experience of the image in a subtle but present way. The films are short, but require effort to watch and listen, because the degree of concentration is high. Once prepared for that effort, her work is fascinating and enchanting in its purity.
Homo Bulla could not be created without the commitment and efforts of many people. Receptivity and responding to the magic happening during the filmshoots replaced almost the need of a script. Serendipity was our guiding key concept.
Assistant video camera and bubblemaker