The Aliens have landed

9 Mar

I am lucky enough to live a stones throw away from the Vondel Park in Amsterdam and consider it my extended back garden, especially as I walk Mr Parker International Dog of Mystery around there every day, go jogging, have leisurely walks with hubbie Mr B, coffee and catch ups at the http://www.blauwetheehuis.nl/ and picnics and BBQs in the summer. I even had my 1960’s Mod summer fete voodoo/ceremony wedding there. It hold’s many many fond memories.

Our Wedding 2010

Our Wedding 2010

Our Wedding 2010

It’s also often been a thought and a dream of mine that it is somewhat lacking in creative content and could be an amazing space for sculptures, art and installations. Yet in nearly 5 years I’ve never seen more than the Vondel Open Theatre Festival http://www.openluchttheater.nl/ or a busker to lift those spirits. Until now.

When I heard the acclaimed artist and director (having recently watched SHAME http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1723811/ ) Steve McQueen was showing an interesting installation in the park called Blues Before Sunrise, I was eager to see the concept flood the park and bring to life some of those visions I myself have had.

So dragging, I’m not sure who more unwillingly the dog or the husband, as it was torrential rain, to the park, we proceeded to set off just before sunset and whilst the lights were still off, to see the illumination from dusk to dark. This sadly couldn’t have happened on a worse weather day for Steve McQueen. It really was miserable, and a little hard to see the contrast of the illumination against a sunset, that you couldn’t sadly see.  As if magic every light in the Vondel Park did suddenly turn a bright electric blue, and as we plodded around the park in the rain, the skies got darker and the lights began to hover around the park and in the trees like mini space ships. And strangely in the wet the lights flickered and danced and colours skipped through the leaves, in reflections that otherwise would not have magically happened on a clear evening. Maybe the weather had been kind after all.


The over all feeling for myself however actually came across quite strange, as if the lights were somehow encroaching on the space a bit unnaturally, the blue lights seemed stark, urban, eerie, and industrial against the green natural covering of the beautiful Vondel Park.  The park really did feel invaded. But then I guess to have had another colour, say red coming from lampposts in Amsterdam, would have been a bit of a cliché.

Stedelijk Museum director Ann Goldstein states, “McQueen’s remarkable Blues Before Sunrise will not only alter our perception of the Vondelpark, it will also heighten our sensation of routine activity and transform a common space into an uncanny, beautiful experience, at once powerfully present and knowingly elusive.”

I’m not sure the Vondel Park needs industrial lighting to transform an already peaceful, romantic and beautiful space into a beautiful space. For myself and the love I have for the park it already was stunning. Yet as I mentioned before it wouldn’t go a miss once in a while to have some new quirky creations in the park to transform it once in a while. And I guess that is what Steve McQueen was trying to achieve.

Replacing the conventional warm white light with a subdued blue toned light, McQueen uses illumination to transform the environment, giving rise to a host of new associations. Like sound or music, light changes the atmosphere and alters one’s perception of a place. In this way, Blues Before Sunrise blends the sensory and cinematic.

Maybe as the weather changes and as the nights get even lighter, and hopefully the tones of an actual sunset emit against the blue of the lights, I will continue to see the installation transform the Park in many ways over the coming weeks as I do all through the year with the seasons. Maybe I will even get up at the crack of dawn and see the transformation before sunrise.
The Stedelijk Museum proudly presents Blues Before Sunrise, a project by artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen that will take place in Amsterdam’s from Wednesday March 7th until the 25th of March 2012

http://www.stedelijk.nl/en/now-at-the-stedelijk/public-program/stedelijk-a-vondelpark/steve-mcqueen-blues-before-sunrise

And in the meantime I will keep dreaming and looking for other outdoor inspirations that may one day also make a visit to the Park. Especially since the Park has now even lost the eye film museum http://www.eyefilm.nl

As of yet no signed lease for any new creative’s, although I have read that they assure the space will be filled with something worthy and cultural, I sadly feel we could well see another outstanding space in Amsterdam stand empty through the sacred summer months. Here is hoping they take full advantage of the opportunity and show some temporary shows, exhibitions and installations during that time, until the new residents move in.
So some thoughts on the park for the future, how about some Knitting Graffiti:

thedailygreen.com

Or Tree installations

Berlin 2010 – Claire Ives

These bird and bug boxes have been installed by art and architecture collective London Fieldworks around trees across London in clusters inspired by neighboring housing.

http://www.dezeen.com/2010/09/08/spontaneous-city-in-the-tree-of-heavenby-london-fieldworks/

Or maybe I will just enjoy the grass, trees and nature, sitting on my patchwork 60’s blanket; reading a book and drinking some processeco with the sun on my face, watching the world go by.

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