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Everyone is dead except us (2020), Ben Zegers. At the Hoogstraat / Binnenrotte intersection, on top of the 'Dam in de Rotte'. Photo: Jannes Linders

New monumental artwork in the center of Rotterdam

Everyone is dead except us from Ben Zegers

The center of Rotterdam has a new monumental work of art richer: Everyone is dead except us from Ben Zegers. The artwork is located at the intersection Hoogstraat / Binnenrotte near the library and the Laurenskerk on the spot where the 'Dam in de Rotte' was located (and of which remains are still located under the Hoogstraat) and where Rotterdam originated. That origin is now marked by the new artwork.

About the title
The title is for visual artist Ben Zegers Everyone is dead except us a sober and factual observation. ‘Everyone is dead except us' is a statement that connects the present, the past and the future, and which is an incessant appeal to the city and its inhabitants to make something of it together at all times.

About the image
The statue consists of two elegantly turned feet, which are spaced apart. The feet refer to the origins of the city, but also to the ancient function of this place as a market. The two images are in dialogue with each other like a customer and a merchant and remind us of the footsteps of the first Rotterdammers.

The work of art was cast in parts by the bronze foundry Kemner, in Cuijck. The aluminum feet weigh about 1500 to 2000 kilos each and are 7,5 meters high. The metal is finished in different ways. The images are polished in some parts like a mirror, in other parts the rough welds of the making process remain visible. The raised heel and the rotation of the feet enhance the spatiality of the work of art and give it a lively appearance that matches the dynamics of the market and the city. The position of the two feet in relation to each other is derived from the dancer by artist Edgar Degas from the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

Het proces
During the construction of the Willemsspoort tunnel on the Binnenrotte in 1991, the origins of the city were investigated: the dam in the Rotte and the oldest wooden lock in the dam, dating from 1270. The houses of the first inhabitants on the dam were also examined. Soon after this archaeological find, plans arose to mark this place with a work of art. In 1993 a new citizens' initiative, the Committee Rotte-Dam, committed itself to making the dam in the Rotte more recognizable as a place where Rotterdam originated. That same year, a proposal from the city council was accepted to indicate that place by means of a work of art. In 2007 a budget was made available for a work of art as part of the Binnenrotte redesign project, after which the location was determined in 2010. The choice for Ben Zegers was made in 2015 by a selection committee, consisting of representatives of Urban Development (municipality of Rotterdam) and Sculpture International Rotterdam (program of CBK Rotterdam responsible for Rotterdam's international sculpture collection). At the end of 2019, the permit for the placement of the work was issued and the production of the statues started.

About the artist
Ben Zegers (1962, Utrecht) “disturbs the measure of things”. His images are so elastic in form and content that they constantly change identity. They are always images that are on their way to their destination, not to be interpreted by their ceaseless play with recognisability, proportion, function and meaning. Zegers settled in Rotterdam in 1988 and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen dedicated a solo exhibition to the artist in 1993. Zegers' works can be seen in various places in Rotterdam, such as the Raamvertellingen (2009) in the Pendrechtse Melissantstraat and the monument Free sailing! for trade unionist Edo Fimmen at Katendrecht. His work can be found in the collections of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Haags Gemeentemuseum and the Caldic Collection. Zegers lives and works in Rotterdam. He is also a member of the Executive Board of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam.

The artwork Everyone is dead except us was commissioned by Stadsontwikkeling, the municipality of Rotterdam, with the support of Sculpture International Rotterdam (SIR), a program of CBK Rotterdam. The artwork will be included in the SIR collection after completion. The permit process and the realization are coordinated by Stadsontwikkeling (municipality of Rotterdam) in collaboration with the artist and Clara Granda. With special thanks to: Archeology Rotterdam (BOOR) and committee Rotte-Dam.

Publication date: 15 / 09 / 2020

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Forest polder fox, Florentijn Hofman, Schiedamseweg, 2020. Photo: Otto Snoek

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