Florentijn Hofman is a sculptural essayist; in other words, he makes works of art that can be interpreted as three-dimensional essays. The essay, in its verbal form, is one of the most interesting products of authorship. It is a work of non-fiction written from a personal angle, a composition with a certain elegance, beauty, lightness and in many cases humour.
This applies equally to the Bospolder Fox, a sixteen-metre long fox that grips a plastic bag in its jaws. Hofman designed this sculpture for a location on Schiedamseweg, a busy traffic artery flanked by shops and housing, separating the neighbourhoods of Bospolder and Tussendijken. Bospolder-Tussendijken is an area of Rotterdam where foxes are more than just fiction.
Hofman’s Fox is about about nature infiltrating the city via peripheral areas below the metro railways. The encroaching flora and fauna are not of direct economic importance to the city, but they have their benefits. The local residents, in particular, have developed a certain fondness for the feral intruders.
With this gigantic fox, Hofman stages a clash between two realms, between city and nature. The fox is an interloper, a colourful and gracious nocturnal animal that imparts a romantic twist to this story; and romanticism is a longing familiar to newcomers in the city. The inhabitants of Rotterdam come mostly from elsewhere, and they, like the fox, seek a better life in the city. Rotterdam must therefore keep its gates open to nature, to newcomers and to new perspectives.
The animal figures in Hofman’s oeuvre often show human traits, like characters in a fable. He sees the fox as an intel- ligent, cunning animal capable of taking calculated risks. It’s not for nothing that the sculpture stands on the rougher, less culti- vated, side of Schiedamseweg. The watchful posture of the Bospolder Fox reflects the dynamic that we associate with a metropolis, particularly along this crowded traffic route that serves as a gateway to the city.
The fox is streetwise and adaptable. That is an important attribute in Rotterdam West, according to Hofman, who lived and worked there for many years.