It's a Questions of Power, Isn't It?

previous editions

1993 Sonsbeek 93, 1e folder


Curator: Valerie Smith (USA)

During the preparations of each new sonsbeek exhibition, the question arises how art can or should be placed in the park. Like her predecessor Saskia Bos, the American curator Valerie Smith developed her own strategy for sonsbeek ‘93. Smith's ideas can be summed up with the words identity, transparency, and process. First of all, she divided Arnhem into three rings, three zones, each with its own character: Sonsbeek Park as a recreational environment, the city of Arnhem as urban environment and the Meinerswijk polder on the southern outskirts of the city as scenic space. These three rings are depicted in the logo of Sonsbeek '93.

48 artists from all over the world were invited to create site-specific works. Valerie Smith worked closely together with them as a kind of co-producer. The catalogue can be read as a personal diary. Smith asked the artists to critically examine the identity of a place, if possible also in relation to its residents. The central questions were: How are public spaces set up? How do they function? Who uses them? This resulted on the one hand in enigmatic works such as Michael Asher's project with 24 text signs on tree stumps in Sonsbeek Park, and on the other hand in provocative art, such as Marc Quinn's 12% Proof, also known as "The Pisser" ("The urinator"). Located next to the Koepelkerk (a church), this work, featured a sculpture of a man with an erection in a phone booth. This work received a lot of media attention, sparked fierce debate, and was defaced and vandalized.

Finally, in many ways sonsbeek '93 could also be considered a process rather than a finished exhibition: in many cases, the finished art work was not the main goal; the focus was on the process that preceded it, or the reactions that the works provoked. This idea was also reflected in the catalogue, which only describes the process of cooperation between Smith and the artists. Images of the final artworks were largely absent. The reactions to Smith’s concept were critical. However in retrospect, sonsbeek ‘93 is considered an important exhibition in the development towards a more social practice of art. The American writer Jens Hoffman counts sonsbeek 93 among the fifty most influential exhibitions of contemporary art.

Artists sonsbeek '93: George Adé, Mario Airò, Juan Vicente Aliaga, Pawel Althamer, Fareed Armaly, Art Oriente Objet, Michael Asher, Christine Assman, Yves Aupetitallot, Miroslaw Balka, Geert Bekaert, Cornel Bierens, Blue Funk, Michel Barthassat, Alighiero e Boetti, Jean-Baptiste Bruant, Tom Burr, Maurizio Cattelan, Thierry de Cordier, Patrick Corillon, Jef Cornelis, Dorothy Cross, Stephan Dillemuth, Mark Dion, Gilles Dusein, Kate Ericson & Mel Ziegler, Pepe Espaliù, Anna Gudjónsdóttir & Till Krause, Kenn Hardy, Ann Hamilton, Damien Hirst, Irene and Christine Hohenbüchler, Zuzanna Janin, Elfriede Jelinek, Kamagurka, Mike Kelley, John Körmeling, Inez van Lamsweerde, Liz Larner & Susan Narduli, Yuri Leiderman, Mark Manders, Paul McCarthy, Thomas McEvilley, Misha Mengelberg, Eva Meyer, Annette Messager, Stuart Morgan, Jos de Mul, Juan Muñoz, Christian Philipp Müller, Max Neuhaus, Jan van de Pavert, Vong Phaophanit, Keith Piper, Mark Quinn, Allen Ruppersberg, Eran Schaerf, Wim T. Schippers, Cindy Sherman, Andreas Siekmann, Valerie Smith, subREAL, Filip Turek, Carel van Tuyll van Serooskerken, Bart Verschaffel, Dirk van Weelden, Lawrence Weiner, R.W. van de Wint, Rémy Zaugg.

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