“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”
— James Baldwin, The Doom and Glory of Knowing Who You Are, Life Magazine, May 24, 1963.
Regrettably, we have decided to postpone the opening of sonsbeek20→24. This decision is with a heavy heart, but in line with recommendations by the Dutch government and health officials as well as medical experts from all over the globe, driven by the impact COVID-19 is having on the international community and the ability to travel, work, convene, and simply come together. This new reality is impacting not only the now, but also the near and distant future, and has therefore forced us to take this difficult step.
The health and safety of the artists, curators, staff, and audiences of sonsbeek 20→24 has always been and remains of utmost importance. Postponing the opening of the fully curated and conceived edition which was scheduled to open in less than three months time, is extremely disappointing and painful for everyone involved in the 12th edition of sonsbeek. However, in this case, consulting the history books is giving some perspective and hope: At the time, the 1970 edition of sonsbeek, curated by Wim Beeren, was as well postponed by one year, for different reasons – and became one of the most important milestones in sonsbeek—as much as a defining moment in Dutch art history. It is in such examples that we find hope and strength at this moment, as well as in the knowledge that many of our respected and appreciated colleagues all over the world are facing these challenges with us in solidarity.
And such solidarity and respect is of course also owed to all those who are constituting sonsbeek20→24: first and foremost the artists, followed by the staff and curators. In these exceptionally uncertain times, sonsbeek as a critical institution feels a great responsibility for the employed team and the many freelancers working on this project. The board of Sonsbeek & State of Fashion will try their utmost to keep the team on board and keep remunerating them for the tremendous work, in close consultation with the Dutch government and measures taken to deal with the effects of the Corona-crisis.
These are times in which we should distribute risk and privileges, times in which to show and perform solidarity.
These are the times to continue the work that has been initiated. This is why by March 23 we will launch the new website, publish texts, and produce online content for you.
These are the times where precisely new thoughts about labour, equality and justice should be brought to the forefront. We think that this is appropriate for a project that deliberates on issues of labour, its history, conditions and socio-political bearings. Times in which the need of universal basic income and universal health care has become incredibly evident. Debates, strategies and practices that we have the ethical responsibility to take seriously and deeply care for.
This is the work to be done. This is the time to do it.
Our strong intention is to open sonsbeek20→24 in 2021. The exact timing is not certain at this moment, as it depends on the large number of partners, venues, and participants involved in this collaborative event.
Stay safe, and be well!