Jantien Kahn

Blog 3 – quest

February 1, 2024

From passage to quest

15 years ago I made the sculpture ‘quest’, during a masterclass by Adriaan Seelen and Gerard van Rooij. The theme for the whole group was passage. I am not used to giving words and meaning to what I make, before the form has even emerged. For me, creation is a movement that arises from within, similar to the working process in stone.

I began with: ‘What does passage mean?’. According to the dictionary: part of a piece of writing; passing by, crossing. To me, the word passage means: the transition between phases and stages of life. These are abstract concepts, but in general the abstraction, both in form and in language, speaks to my imagination the most. In the works of the Dutch poet J.P. Rawie, I found the poem quest.
‘Quest’, search for the Holy Grail. ‘A person’s urge to look for the most beautiful thing (your truest self)’ is how I translated it 15 years ago. ‘And who knows, what I miss most of all, may never have been’, the verse from Rawie’s poem that spoke most strongly to me. Saying goodbye to something that may never have existed. The transition from letting go of feelings about what could have been, to acknowledging what was.

work in progress

The sculpture I made consists of 3 parts: a solid base as a foundation for the rest of the sculpture. On top of that, a column split by wedges which could be seen as a path or riverbed and carrier of the top piece. This slightly convex shape reflects the sky and is reminiscent of a water-filled bowl that is overflowing. 

The end result made people wonder whether this heralded a new direction in my design. My intuitive answer at the time was negative. By now I can actually see that the sculpture quest is a representation of a story with many passages.

Recently, looking up the meaning of quest, I found words in Wikipedia that fall on walked-on ground: 
quest is a search; a particular kind of search with the character of a life task. (… ) The word is used metaphorically for a task that one has set for oneself, but which is almost impossible to accomplish. Stories often involve an adventurous, long journey with major obstacles that the main character must overcome, with or without help. 

Today I can confirm from my own experience: A quest is a journey that one can only make oneself, but there is always help when it is really needed.

queeste – detail