On track at ‘The Wild’

Why Oscar Peters built a rollercoaster in an Amsterdam art space.


Exploring the art of curating for the duration of July, Glamcult caught up with kinetic artist Oscar Peters, the Dutch creative behind the rollercoaster that currently dominates Amsterdam’s independent art space W139. His huge installation is part of The Wild, an exhibition with several large-scale artworks that push the limits of art as much as the limits of the public. “I really liked the idea of danger.”

What’s the main idea or concept behind this exhibition?

There’s so many influences in making this. I studied in Pittsburgh, where I had the pleasure of working with Jonathan Armistead. Together we set up a soapbox derby. The carts were extremely colourful and elaborate, with crazy costumes and performances from the other art students. Upon graduating I made a wooden rollercoaster, which had a moon that would be hoisted to the top and then rolled down to the bottom, a sequence that was constantly repeated. Combining these two lead me to The Wild.


Why did you decide to have an open call for this event?

The open call was really interesting as I asked for submissions from artists to create carriages, but never actually told them they would be going on a track! I wanted to be able to surprise not only the audience but also the artists involved. I just gave them weight restrictions, height restrictions and told them it would have to move around but with no mention on what. That really worked because I wanted the carriages to look completely out of place. Also, I feel as an artist at the moment it’s very hard to get an opportunity like this, so it’s always great to be able to include as many people as possible.

Now that the exhibition is complete, is there an artist that really stands out?

No, yes, no… em, yes! I’d say one of my favourites is definitely the floppy column by Carolin Giessner. It’s incredibly phallic and bounces around the track, which I find hilarious. At the highest point it fits exactly between the track and the ceiling so it actually looks like it’s supporting something in the structure, which adds to the humour of it all. She kind of knew what was going on in terms of the rollercoaster so I think that allowed her to really take advantage of the moving aspect.

W139 seems to have a very packed schedule. How long did it take to set up the exhibition?

This exhibition took five weeks to make. We had the good fortune of using the W139 production space, which is roughly the same size as the main hall here. So we got to build half of the track and then moved it across to finish the rest.


How do you find the right balance between concept and visual aesthetics?

Well, the show is called The Wild because of the wilderness and exploring the unexplored, but it’s also a comment on how these things have disappeared. People no longer go out of their way to explore. I feel, however, that the idea of the amusement park is a substitute for this human urge to explore and to expose ourselves to terror and danger. This work is meant to give that idea of the theme park rollercoaster and simulating the feelings when you are there waiting to go on—that adrenalin rush. I wanted to capture the feeling you have in any situation when you’re nervous, as it’s a fantastic feeling. It really makes you feel happy in a way and that’s one thing I enjoy: creating a space that is able to evoke these emotions!

What’s been the biggest reaction since you opened?
Honestly, one thing I’ve noticed is that these installations are selfie machines. People come in and straight away they are taking loads of selfies—it’s hilarious. As the installations are highly photogenic and work in a way that you’d want to take your picture with it; this is something I had already envisioned.

It’s a very intense experience to allow the viewer so close to the exhibition riding past. Was this intentional?

Yeah, definitely! When looking at it, I wanted to give the feeling that it could come off the track at any minute; I really liked the idea of danger. The idea of “it could happen”. It doesn’t… but it could.


8 July until 13 August 2017

W139, Amsterdam (NL)



Words by Tom Robertson

Photography by Chun-Han Chiang


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