Searching for Oneself Outside: Interviews

Interview Public space Monuments 

In a series of interviews Anne Odink asked several experts on the matter of public space about their vision and roadmap for the future on how to make the public space become more inclusive.

Monuments in the Netherlands can be controversial. For instance because they honor dubious individuals or histories, which can hurt people. Also, certain communities in the Netherlands feel unheard because a specific place for them to commemorate is missing. Art in public spaces should be for everyone, but not everyone experiences it that way.

Nazilf Lopulissa - Avoid words, keep busy (2023)

In October 2023, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) published the report Unstable Pedestals. Controversial monuments in public spaces. The report addresses monuments in the Dutch public space that are disputable because they, for instance, honor individuals who played a role in the colonial and slavery history of the Netherlands, such as Jan Pieterszoon Coen. The KNAW provides recommendations in the report on how to deal with controversial heritage. A promising suggestion is to give controversial monuments new meaning through conceptual renewal. In this case, visual artists can critically frame controversial monuments, symbolically contradict them (with, for example, a counter-monument), or play with the materiality of the sculpture.

How can this shared public space become more inclusive? What do experts on the matter think of the KNAW-report? Are there concrete steps that can be made? Like history itself, public spaces tell a story that is never complete. The exhibition and this section of interviews are therefore not a conclusion, but instead a start of a longer and deeper conversation. To kickstart this conversation, Anna Odink interviewed a series of experts on the matter of art in public space about their vision and roadmap for the future.