Art tour Amsterdam Zuid, 2018
By Janne de Kock
This route takes you through the streets of Amsterdam-Zuid, past a range of artworks in public space. Amsterdam-Zuid as a distric is rather diverse, which is why the route will concentrate mainly on the area of and around the Zuidas and a small bit of Oud-Zuid. This will juxtapose two entiriely different neighbourhoods. On the one hand there is the Zuidas: Amsterdam’s business district and the country’s financial centre. International allure and ambition reign here. The Zuidas is always under construction, everywhere you look new offices or infrastructural facilities are being built. Right next to those offices lies the residential neighbourhood of Oud-Zuid, with its broad avenues and organised blocks of houses, all neatly planned out in the architect Berlage’s famous Plan Zuid, dating from 1917. While there is a sharp contrast in look and character between the two neighbourhoods, both are examples of thoroughly planned urban expansion, which makes for an interesting comparison.
In the public space of this part of Amsterdam what role is assigned to art? The construction of the Zuidas has been taking up many years. For a long time, art at the Zuidas was in the hands of the Virtual Museum Zuidas (active from 2003 – 2012), which regarded the whole area as museum space and which generated many temporary initiatives. Permanent, high quality artworks were also meant planned, but financial reality and complex regulatory processes too often turned out to clash with the ideals of art. Extraordinary designs for the Zuidas’s squares, like the ones by Mark Manders and Jennifer Tee, were never realised because they met with such resistance from the property developers involved or were simply discarded once the 2008 crisis struck. A city is always subject to transformation, and is never finished. In 2018 the district of Zuid is planning extra investments in the maintenance and restoration of existing works of art and the development of new ones in its public space. In Oud-Zuid the lawns and lanes from the Berlage plan serve quite well for the installation of artworks.
Art in public space has a different context than art in the museum. The location out in the open always influences a work and its meaning. Public space is regarded as freely accessible, egalitarian and neutral. But art is never neutral and although an audience in public space is always around it can never be precisely designated. Therefore, artworks in this space are often subject to heated discussion. But the artworks as well as the discussions can help us gain insight into what a public space is and how we function in it. On this route, we will check out what’s going on in Amsterdam-Zuid these days and what artworks there are to see in its public space. We will look at old as well as recent works, at permanent as well as temporary initiatives. Some works have been relocated; others have been removed from their original location. We wish you a pleasant stroll and hope you will go home feeling satisfied and with a handful of insights into the function of art in public space.
On this route the works made for GET LOST – art route 2018 have also been included. GET LOST – art route generates art in public space by partnering organizations at the Amsterdam Zuidas with young, promising artists. For the GET LOST – art route 2018 edition we have invited young and talented artists to reflect on the curatorial framework: Code of Conduct. Their work acts as a mirror in which we observe ourselves and explore how things are constantly changing and moving around us. Just like in previous editions, in the dialogue between Zuidas companies and the international artists both brought their own expertise and means. The companies made the artworks financially possible and gave their input on their selection. The artists tackled their commissions per venue and gave free reign to their imagination. This led to unique, autonomous, relevant and poetic temporary works of art in public space.