Universiteit Leiden

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Laura Robustella
Anna Loh

Master's student of Arts and Culture develops own exhibition: 'A very enriching experience'

Many students dread writing a thesis. Master’s student Laura Robustella's practice-based thesis shows that it is well worth the effort. She developed an art exhibition based on her master’s thesis.

Laura learned about the possibility of doing a practice-based thesis on the introduction day of her master's degree in Arts and Culture. The idea that you will partly do research at an organisation and also write your thesis about it appealed to her. 'Then I came across a vacancy for an internship at the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency. Their assignment was to develop an exhibition concept,' says Laura.

Concrete art

She conducted her assignment working for the EST art foundation in Leiden, an art organisation that focuses mainly on concrete art. 'Concrete art is geometric and feels cold and impersonal. It is a specific art movement in which there is a certain vision of what is and what is not art. For example, a concrete art object also does not contain a story,' Laura explains. 'I used that interpretation to create my thesis and an exhibition concept.'

Her thesis explored how Dutch artists interpret concrete art. 'Because of my internship, I had access to artists I could interview,' Laura explains. This sometimes resulted in her ending up in the homes of artists whose works had been selected for her exhibition. This is what happened with visual artist Bob Bonies. 'He always makes a miniature version of his work before starting the big version. I had selected one of his works for the exhibition and when I told him that, he immediately grabbed the miniature of it,' she says.

Own interpretation

Meanwhile, the exhibition has opened and people can admire the artworks until 15 October. Now that all the arranging is over, Laura looks back on the past months with satisfaction. 'On the one hand, it was overwhelming to do everything at once, which sometimes made it difficult to make time for other things. On the other hand, I was given a very enriching experience that broadened my perspective.'

She hopes her exhibition will also inspire others to new insights. 'The message I want to convey with the exhibition is that art really is quite accessible. I used to feel intimidated by this type of art because it doesn't tell a story,' says Laura. Thanks to her practice-based thesis she no longer has that feeling. 'It's actually rather enlightening that everything you see is all there is. You can do whatever you want with it. Art doesn't always need to have a predetermined context or meaning. It’s also fine to interpret art in your own way.'

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