[artinfo] Van Abbemuseum presents Who Owns The Street?

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Mon Feb 15 15:25:42 CET 2016

Who Owns The Street?


February 20, 2016-April 30, 2017

The exhibition Who Owns The Street? shows different ways of seeing 
the street-our public space. Who uses this public space? Who manages, 
controls and abuses it? Who is the owner and what responsibilities 
does this ownership entail? The Van Abbemuseum has invited four 
guests who each worked on a particular aspect of the use of public 
space. This has resulted in four very different contributions: public 
space as a place for protest (Crimson Architectural Historians), a 
classification of a hundred different streets (ZUS), the design of 
public space of The Strip in Las Vegas (!melk) and the project 
Refugee Republic about daily life in a refugee camp (the artist Jan 
Rothuizen, the multimedia journalist Martijn van Tol and the 
photographer Dirk Jan Visser, produced by Submarine Channel). All the 
contributions also refer to the legendary exhibition The Street which 
took place in the Van Abbemuseum in 1972.

The exhibition includes a series of lectures and debates, starting 
with a talk show presented by the journalist, author and  presenter 
Tracy Metz on Thursday evening, February 25.

The opening of the exhibition, which can be seen on the five floors 
of the tower in the museum's new building will take place on 
Saturday, February 20 at 4pm with a performance of protest songs.

Refugee Republic
The Refugee Republic project is an interactive documentary which 
takes you through the streets of a refugee camp and shows you what 
daily life is like there. The Domiz camp was established in North 
Iraq in April 2012 to take Syrian Kurds. The camp is located in Iraqi 
Kurdistan, 60 kilometres from the border between Syria and Iraq. With 
a surface area of 1,142,500 m2 this camp was originally intended to 
provide room for 38,000 refugees. Currently 58,000 refugees are 
registered there. The camp comprises 12 districts, ten main roads and 
99 smaller streets. Refugee Republic can be seen in the basement of 
the tower, and a banner of drawings and texts, a sort of stylised 
snake, rises up from this basement. Refugee Republic has won several 
prizes, including the 2015 Dutch Design Award and the 2015 NFF 
Digital Storytelling Award.

ZUS (Zones Urbaines Sensibles) from Rotterdam is carrying out 
research into the contemporary city on the basis of architecture, 
whether commissioned or unasked for. Public space and the politics of 
space always play a central role in this. For this exhibition ZUS 
developed the project 101 Streets, the implosion of public domain and 
looked at 101 streets, from paved Roman roads, to New Babylon and the 
contemporary shopping mall. The evolution of existing and utopian 
streets reflects the fragmentation of the concept of the street and 
shows that the street is still being completely transformed. The 
illustrations of different types of streets are displayed on the wall 
of the ground floor level and on coloured ladders which interconnect 
the different floors of the tower.

Crimson Architectural Historians
"Do You Hear the People Sing?" is the title of a song from the 
musical Les Miserables. It was also sung during the demonstrations 
for more democracy in Hong Kong in 2014. This protest became known as 
the "Umbrella Revolution" because of the umbrellas painted with 
slogans, which the protesters twirled at the troops. The Rotterdam 
bureau Crimson Architectural Historians used the title of this song 
as the title for their contribution about public space as a place for 
protest. There is a large panoramic drawing on the first floor of the 
tower, showing scenes of riots and demonstrations combined with their 
spatial environment. The whole panorama forms a single allegorical 
street scene in which the architecture, demonstrators, slogans and 
different forms of authority tell the story of the street as the 
place where democracy is created and presented in the raw.

On the second floor of the tower, The Strip, the legendary gambling 
boulevard in Las Vegas, serves as a symbolic counterpart to the 
refugee camp in the basement of the tower. Over the past years The 
Strip, a totally privatised area, has developed from a street full of 
traffic to a pedestrianized area. As a result the quality of public 
space has become more important. Bureau !melk from New York was 
commissioned to draw up a master plan and a design for this, 
including the very first park bordering on The Strip. The interesting 
thing about the development of this boulevard is that all the changes 
were initiated by market forces, not the government. !melk worked 
together with the architect/author Stefan Al on the contribution to 
this exhibition.

Changing project presentations
Right at the top of the tower a space has been reserved for smaller, 
changing public presentations about public space in Eindhoven. These 
are intended to update the exhibition, supplementing it, commenting 
on it or asking critical questions and making it a more concrete 

Lectures and debates
The subjects of the exhibition are explored in more detail in a 
series of lectures and debates in the museum, organised in 
cooperation with Architectuurcentrum Eindhoven. This series kicks off 
with the journalist, author and presenter Tracy Metz. On Thursday 
evening, February 25 she will hold discussions with the illustrator 
Jan Rothuizen, Elma van Boxel from ZUS, Wouter Vanstiphout from 
Crimson Architectural Historians and Jerry van Eijck from !melk, in 
her live talk show Stadsleven (City Life). For further information 
about Stadsleven and the series of lectures and debates, see the 
website of the Van Abbemuseum. 

The Street (1972)
In each of the contributions reference is made to the legendary 
exhibition The Street, which took place in the Van Abbemuseum in 
1972. The director at the time, Jean Leering, who curated the 
exhibition, said: "[The use of the street] reflects how society is 
doing, how it experiences and understands itself. [...] But at the 
same time the street provides the opportunity for social life: the 
street is the pre-eminent place where opinions and ideas become 
public and can be developed, become manifest and are turned into 
action." In The Street, Leering also demonstrated his view of the 
social task which a museum has in society. His starting point was 
that the museum's activities could be a way to increase the awareness 
of his public and allow them to take part in the social process. This 
was necessary to counter man's experience of alienation in society. 
At the time these were very innovative ideas in the museum world, but 
even now, more than forty years later, they have not lost any of 
their contemporary appeal, as this exhibition shows.

Curator: Willem Jan Renders
Advisory Board: Bert Dirrix & Robert van Rixtel (Social Urban Space), 
Christiane Berndes & Antoine Derksen (Van Abbemuseum)
Exhibition design: Can & Asli Altay (Future Anecdotes Istanbul)
Subsidisers: Who Owns The Street? is supported by Creative Industries 
Fund NL, Bouwfonds Cultuurfonds and Heijmans.

Van Abbemuseum
Bilderdijklaan 10
The Netherlands
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11am-5pm,
Thursday 11am-9pm

T +31 40 238 1000
<MAILTO:info at vanabbemuseum.nl>info at vanabbemuseum.nl


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