Recently in Voorlinden, a gorgeous new modern art museum in the town of Wassenaar, one of the works that attracted my attention was by the Italian artist Maurizio Mannuccini.
The work is quite simply the text “listen to your eyes” in bright, white neon letters on a white wall. Intriguing. Why listen to your eyes? And how? Is it an invitation, a challenge, an admonition?
As I stood there and tried to listen to my eyes, what came up for me was the distinction between deep and superficial attention.
To be quite honest, when I walk around a museum I tend to scan the rooms and move from piece to piece without really paying that much attention. I make snap judgements about the works, read a sign or two or exchange opinions when I am with someone.
But what I usually do not do, is really take the time to let a work of art make an impression on me. Resonate with me, confuse me, annoy me, bring me joy. I give seconds to something that may have taken weeks or months to create.
Upon reflection, the same holds true for my life outside of the four museum walls. Busy, jam packed with stuff I need to do, superficial. I don’t often take the time to really connect with the people around me, the world around me.
Rarely do I actually listen to my eyes when I look at whatever presents itself to me. The connection is brief, superficial, and lacking in meaning.
Which is silly, because I know that when I do take the time to open up and pay attention, so much more becomes accessible. The many layers and intricacies. The beautiful contradictions. The different levels of meaning. Within me and within the other.
So, I am grateful that this work of art made woke me up a bit. Reminded me of what I know but so often forget. As 2017 is only a few hours away, my resolution for the new year is to listen to my eyes more often.
Ilja van Roon
P.S. Okay, so you can listen with your eyes. But do you also feel what you feel?