Mannes Disastrous recovery gets judicial tail

Serafijn gave Assen until the middle of last week to cover or remove the artificial dog that he thought was ruined. And then bring it back to its original state or have it rebuilt. But the council refuses. Assen thinks that she should have Mannes patched up in this way, to prevent worse.


After consultation with his lawyer, Serafijn has decided that the Mannes issue will now have a judicial tail. Last night, Assen’s lawyer was informed about the legal next step. “The response from the municipality forces Serafijn to take legal measures to undo the infringement of his copyright,” his lawyer Marcel de Zwaan said.

According to De Zwaan, Serafijn regrets that Assen, who once commissioned the arrival of Mannes, does not realize that you cannot restore this work without the artist’s help, ‘with this disastrous result’. “The public interest, the interest of the artist and the interest of the municipality itself is not served by having to come to a procedure now,” says De Zwaan.

Maintenance obligation

The six-meter-high artificial dog was placed in front of the new station building in 2018, as dessert after a multi-million dollar approach to the station area. But last November, Mannes, towed away in parts, went on a transport. A specialized repair company in Werkendam went to repair Mannes, on behalf of the municipality of Assen. There they were fed up with the fact that the responsible artist duo, architect Maurice Nio and visual artist Serafijn, did not restore the artificial dog, despite a maintenance obligation.

Many Assen residents were concerned, and politicians called for something to be done quickly with Mannes. For example, there were unsightly lime stripes all over the dog made of accoya wood. And a special resin layer, which was supposed to protect the wood against all weather influences, came off.

(story continues below photo)

Shiny Chocolate Dog

During the months-long repair job, all wooden parts of Mannes were provided with plastic protective layers. And another four coats of paint went over that. “In any case, it should last another fifty years,” was the response.

The repair work was done in close consultation with Nio, but without the involvement of Serafijn. In June, the artist was so shocked by the changed state of the artwork that he demanded measures from the municipality to hide the ‘disastrously recovered’ Mannes from view as soon as possible.

According to Serafijn, the artificial dog no longer resembles the original. He now thinks it is an ugly shiny brown chocolate dog and says that it suffers image damage. Because Assen does not comply with his demand for covering or removal, the artist continues his battle through the courts.

Unlucky constellation

It is not yet known when the case will be fought there. It is clear that Mannes was born under a very unfortunate star. Because from the moment the artificial dog came into the picture for the provincial capital, in 2017, there has been a fuss about it.

At first, the mayor and aldermen already wanted to put a line through Mannes, although the Asser art committee thought the dog was the best choice out of several entries. Still, the college didn’t want him, for fear that the dog would not be to the liking of most people from Assen. And the statue was too complex to maintain, so was the fear. Because there were too many technical gadgets in it. But a council majority decided otherwise: it forced Mannes through a motion.

In the end, technology was scrapped, such as screens with live video images from the city, which can be seen in the dog’s belly. This was to avoid costly maintenance. However, Mannes was allowed to continue to steam clouds of water vapor from his body as soon as he hears children’s voices.

From hotspot to headache

After the official unveiling in 2018, on Animal Day, the controversial Mannes quickly became a welcome guest despite all the bad omens: ‘Perhaps a little strange such a large dog, but very nice’. He was even ‘the photo hotspot’ for greetings from Assen. Miniature Mannesjes went on sale, he got his own Instagram account and there are now also Pups van Mannes, which together form a children’s play route through the city center.

But there are also soon worries at the town hall. Less than a year later, Mannes is in the rags basket. That starts with ugly limescale: the steam clouds from Mannes’ body leave the white traces behind because of too hard water. Architect Nio thinks he has repaired the shortcoming quickly. But moments later a bigger defect rears its head; Mannes’ skin is peeling, so there is no longer good protection against the weather. And that goes from bad to worse.

finger pointing

The artist duo responsible for Mannes is obliged, in accordance with a municipal contract, to take care of the maintenance for ten years. But for now they don’t do anything. Except arguing with woodworking company Doornekamp Woodspecials in Waddinxveen that Mannes built and varnished. Design and finish would suddenly have been carried out incorrectly by these wood specialists.

And while the parties point an accusing finger at each other, Mannes continues to deteriorate. Until a year later, Assen is more than tired of waiting, can no longer bear to see the deterioration and finally has it repaired himself. The municipality will pay the costs, 90,000 euros. With the intention of getting that money back from the artists. If not willingly, then unwillingly.

Two legal tails

The latter is the case. Because Assen summoned the artists at the beginning of this year to get the money back through the court. That procedure is underway. Artist Serafijn is now in turn taking Assen to court to save his damaged image and copyright.

The patched up Mannes seems to be protected from further decay and stands proud again in front of the NS station. But the question is at what price.

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