pijl Untitled, DSM headoffice, Heerlen (NL), 2008 pijl

Untitled, Royal DSM headoffice, Heerlen (NL), 2008
Lycra and red lentils, 6 x 2 m
Commissioned by: Royal DSM
Photos: Peter Cox

Royal DSM develops and makes ingredients for food, pharmaceuticals and high-tech materials. The company originated as a state-owned coal-mining firm in 1902 (Dutch State Mines), and developed via petrochemicals to become a multinational company.
Tanja Smeets was commissioned to make a sculpture for the stairwell of the Dutch headquarters in Heerlen.

'I played with all three areas in which the company is active - food, medicine and plastics - and looked for the human element within the cold and anaemic building. Where is the warmth? Is there life under the thick concrete skin? Would I dare to set my teeth into it, like a vampire?'

The red lentils form the basis for the most delicious meals and also resemble pills. The tights are made from one of the new materials developed by DSM after the Second World War. The lentils are knotted into the tights. And together they form a red syrup-like substance that resembles clotting blood.