11 Rue Simon Crubellier, Matthew Darbyshire, 2018
For the renovation of Stadionplein an artwork by Matthew Derbyshire was realised in dialogue with people from the neighbourhood. Practically at the time of the artwork’s unveiling- and much less to the residents’ approval – the square was also renamed.
For the year 2018, the City of Amsterdam has reserved an extra budget of 1.8 million euro’s for art in public space. The money is to be spent on the renovation of existing artworks but also on the realisation of new ones, one of which is this one at Stadionplein. The renovation of the square, which until recently mainly served as a parking lot, has been the subject of discussion for years. Its new face was extensively debated. But the eventual plan could not do without a large-scale artwork to ‘link the square and the green areas’. Three artists were commissioned to make a sketch design, and Darbyshire’s was selected. The official opening of the artwork is on July 1st2018. The process of development and realisation of the new sculpture provides an interesting insight into the many parties involved in art in public space.
The design – an ‘apartment’ of concrete and bronze furniture- was presented by Darbyshire in 2014. It is the floor plan of a new build in the Noordblok at Stadionplein, with furniture from various periods. 11 Rue Simon Crubellieris named after a fictive address from a book by the French writer Georges Perec. The artist says about his work: “New building projects in cities often lead to gentrification, which is why they are met with such resistance from the original residents. I wanted to give them a dream house, to make them happy and optimistic. This is their home and they can furnish it anyway they want.” Besides the city government (commissioner) and the artist (creator) also the local residents have influenced the final design. On a website they could choose their favourite furniture from a selection made by Darbyshire. The whole ‘apartment’ consists of furniture they picked – except one cabinet selected by the artist himself.
The bronze elements were manufactured in Tiel. As a way of engaging the everyday public, Darbyshire took a number of residents and alderpersons to visit the foundry, where they were given a demonstration of the production process. The city district hopes for the work to function as a meeting place, and the artist too sees the work as an extension of the surrounding apartments: people can gather here and use the furniture to their liking, to chat or to read the newspaper.
During the development and realisation of 11 Rue Simon Crubellier, something else was going on around the square. Not only was it given a new artwork, it was also given a new name: Johan Cruijffplein. Whereas Darbyshire actively involved the residents, the name change was forced upon them without consultation, to which they fiercely objected. According to them the new name does not honour the location and its history. The controversy shows the power struggle that forces residents to give and take (against their will).