KB21.080   Title: House of Eternal Cleanliness (2021). Collaborators: Lonneke van der Palen, Giovanni Salice (ASMR videos), Camiel Muiser (sound design), Robert Jan Nieuwland (model), Marco Broeders (production). Commissioner: Het Nieuwe Instituut. Dimensions: 840 × 425 cm. Items: couch, desk, carpets, cleaning tools, mirrors, (ASMR) videos. Materials: coated foam, wood, faux fur, perspex. Role: set design & art direction. Exhibited: Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam.

Spotless it must be. The Covid-19 pandemic not only taught us to clean our hands again and again, but it also started a craze in home cleaning. We were home all the time. Our constant presence rubbed off on our interiors. What else was there to do but clean? And so, sales of cleaning products skyrocketed. In the installation House of Eternal Cleanliness, Koos Breen and videographer Lonneke van der Palen explored the sensations of this new cleaning craze. As part of director Guus Beumer’s last exhibition at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam entitled Temporary House of Home, Breen’s installation put the image, sound, and touch of cleanliness on display in several ways. Bright colours – yellow, red, blue – evoke the primary images of cleaning products. The long pile fur carpets on the floor and walls show every trace we leave in them, unforgivingly so, but are all the more satisfying to clean with James, the bright blue vacuum cleaner. A highly aestheticized triptych of ASMR videos – vacuuming a chair, rubbing a toothbrush to hard-to-reach crannies, wiping a mirror – investigates the comforting and absorbing ritual that is removing dirt. It can even be healing. Yet, some challenges remain. What to do, for example, with endless rows of blinds or shutters? But this is not something a Tell-Sell tool can’t handle. House of Eternal Cleanliness invites us to explore and perform again the sensations of cleaning. And it reflects the process back at us through a blue and white wobbly mirror: as if stuck inside a bottle of Glassex Window Spray, eternally cleaning our homes and ourselves. (text by Meindert Peters, photos by Lonneke van der Palen)