Location
De Haan-Wenduine
Year
2021

Benjamin, Maen Florin

Benjamin sits turned inward in reflection. With his drawn up knees, knitted brows and extended hands, one strikingly larger than the other, he appears to be deep in thought, waiting. The viewer waits as well. He gazes at the sculptural character of Maen Florin, but receives no look in response. As in other sculptures by Florin, this causes a good deal of uneasiness. Her fairy-tale dolls are situated between marionette and human being: we have difficulty grasping it. Above all Benjamin´s donkey´s ears prompt questions. In the last century children were sometimes forced to wear donkey´s ears after they had misbehaved. Is Benjamin being held in detention and awaiting release? Is he playing the stubborn donkey, or on the contrary is he strong and wise, humble and affectionate like a donkey? In the appearance of this boy, who embodies a lonely ´otherness´, there resides a confusing mélange of guilt and innocence that partly explains our discomfort. This interplay is also frequently present in fairy tales - a new hint to the donkey´s ears. It makes us think of the feeling of ´Unheimlichkeit´, the eeriness produced by many old German folk tales.

In the local context of De Haan, fairy tales came to life in the Zeepreventorium, a rehabilitation centre that was built a century ago in order to treat children with tuberculosis and other respiratory illnesses. During ´story nights´, singers or actors took to the stage to perform, and in this way helped the sick children not feel ´different´, at least for a little while. With her hybrid sculpture, Florin asks us not to evade our discomfort vis-à-vis the ´Other´, but rather to look it straight in the eye. Does the ´Other´ form a mirror for what we dare not recognise in ourselves? Maybe Benjamin is waiting above all for this (re)cognition.

Location Forest across from Prins Albertpark/Parking Wenduine 8420 De Haan
De Haan-Wenduine
Route planner

Close by: 
- Coastal tram stop Wenduine Molen

- Bicycle network 
junction 16

- Walking network
junction 49

The easiest way to reach Benjamin, is by entering the forest via the entrance road from the parking at Prins Albert Park and then follow the signs towards the work of art.