photo Jannes Linders

8 x looking back on 2023 with the team of BKOR and SIR

During the last days of 2023, BKOR and SIR look back on a year full of wonderful projects. How did the team experience this past year? And what's coming in 2024?

We wish everyone a happy new year and a happy 2024!

Marjolijn van der Meijden, senior project leader BKOR

In 2023, with the arrival of Moments Contained (Thomas J Price) and it Razzia Monument (Anne Wenzel) desires and emotions that live in Rotterdam and beyond made tangible in a compelling way. Representation, processing hidden suffering, appropriating a place in the city. These remain important themes that will also play a role in future art projects in public spaces. How do artists work on that? What is the magic of an image?
The making process of it Razzia Monument over the years through an assignment from BKOR Captured by photographer Lotte Stekelenburg. Because this project was a private initiative, significant funding had to be set up. The initiators therefore wanted to communicate about the design from the very beginning. This is quite unusual, but under Anne's direction, photos were carefully selected to provide sufficient insight into the status of the monumental, artisanal images - without revealing everything. Anne Wenzel: 'Lotte provided insight into the technically challenging process at times. Her photos also give a face to all those people who worked so hard behind the scenes on this special image.'
Despite the photos, we as spectators can continue to wonder what the technology really is like. We admire human hands making shapes, assistants standing high on stairs and working kilos of clay, the artist face to face with her sculpture and thinking: wow this is very cool, this will be good! But do we really understand what's going on? And is that necessary? Not really, and that is the magic of Lotte Stekelenburg's photos.

View an overview of the photography here

photo Lotte Stekelenburg

Sannetje van Haarst, production manager SIR

For a few years now, I have been involved with artist Hulya Yilmaz in researching a temporary location for her artwork For you my love © (2003). The sculpture was previously at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and has been in the museum's storage since the renovation. Together with the landscape designers from Stadsontwikkeling, we have found a beautiful location on the Westerkade. I look forward to seeing Hulya's statue, which is an ode to her mother, shine again in Rotterdam's public space next year. Walking, strolling, running along the quay, between Piet Oudolf's equally interesting pocket parks, you will be surprised by the soft and hard, darkly glowing, heart-warming, loving, detailed volume on all sides that will lie dormant for about ten years.
Also the Reclining figure (1971) by Fritz Wotruba has disappeared from the streets. The soft sandstone was lifted from its pedestal on the sculpture terrace on the Westersingel last week and temporarily housed in a depot. The cause is the rain and wind that raged around the statue over the past fifty years. The wind always blows in Rotterdam and, in combination with the regular driving rain that hammered the soft sandstone, this caused corrosion. Moss formation and pollution by particulate matter added to the problem. A piece broke off at the beginning of this year. Nathalie Zonnenberg wrote advice at our request. Her conclusion is that if we want to preserve the Wotruba, it would be better to place the statue indoors. We did that. We will Reclining figure to miss. Of course we will let you know when she has found a new home.

Hulya Yilmaz, 'For you my love ©', 2003, photomontage Alexander Schabracq

Jeanine van Berkel, communication BKOR/SIR

On June 2 this year Moments Contained by the British artist Thomas J Price unveiled on Stationsplein. In response to this, cultural programmer, writer and organizer Simone Zeefuik wrote an Essay about the significance of the placement of this statue in Rotterdam. Her enthusiasm and love for this artist's work made her decide to write a two-part essay. In the first part she looks forward to the arrival of the sculpture, the second part reflects on the value of her presence. In Operatic Stillness she writes:
"To Moments Contained, this beautiful praise of our pauses, to be seen in a space so synonymous with sound, bustle and haste, is poetic. It is a beauty that we often overlook or rush past because we have learned to believe that Stillness is a waste rather than a part of time. Relearning not only to recognize our sounds, but also to recognize ourselves when we are not presented as a spectacle, requires imagination.”
In my opinion, Simone has managed to express exactly what I was missing in the story surrounding the arrival of the work. What does the image mean for people like the nine-year-old girl she describes in the last paragraph of Unbothered, still, for Simone herself, but also for me? For us, this work of art is about being seen in our pure form, about coming home to a city that is also ours, about loving everyone. Her words touch exactly on what the work is about and I am grateful to her for that. Moments Contained establishes a connection with the city, but also ensures a connection with each other.

photo Aad Hoogendoorn

Nienke Post, BKOR collection manager

In 2023, the BKOR website had more than 60.000 visitors! That is an average of 5.000 people interested in art in public spaces in Rotterdam and beyond to find out more about Rotterdam works of art and artists. When we went live with this website in 2015, we did not expect it to reach so many people. Now 8 years later, the website needs an update and the site becomes even more usable.
In the summer of 2023, we took a first step by offering our six existing route maps as interactive walking routes. You can use your phone to select a route – or part of it – without having to download a separate app. On the map you can always see which direction you should go and you will see information for each work of art. Of course, a new route will be added in 2024!
A major next step is the update of the website, which will have a new homepage and a modified design in early 2024. This will hopefully mean that will be used even more often and more intensively. The mobile version is also much easier to use after this update, I'm really looking forward to that. All those fantastic photos taken by our photographers will be shown off much better and will hopefully provide the user of the website with a lot of pleasure!

Isa Leijdekkers, junior project leader BKOR

The project from 2023 that I remember most is the restoration of the mural without title (1996) by Anton Vrede on the corner of Thorbeckestraat and Maaskade on the Noordereiland. Following the renovation of the building, the Rotterdam artist's work was reapplied by Atelier Leo Mineur. Anton was no longer satisfied with the original drawing and, together with Willem Kerssemeijer (Leo Mineur), made an adapted and, in his opinion, better version. The mural shows, as he himself describes, the entire world that was visited by boat from the North Island, all the continents we went to. “The animals are actually always in some kind of imbalance. Due to our migrations and transports of people and animals, and continents, and the excavation of everything, the whole world is actually no longer in balance," he says in the artist portrait that we made together with Ciska Meister about his work and life. He explains that the time in which the work was made was a different time than now. Artists had a very good position in the Netherlands, the economy was doing well and this made it easy for Anton to think in color. This color has disappeared from his works that he made from 2014 onwards. This project resulted in a special meeting and collaboration with Anton Vrede, a beautiful video sharing his story and of course a restored painting. Thanks for that!

photo BKOR archive

Ilja van Heijningen, program leader BKOR and SIR

Last May, BKOR and SIR presented a new one art route in Hoogvliet. In my opinion, it is highly recommended to get on the metro and look for these pearls in Hoogvliet. Because not alone Le Tamanoir by Alexander Calder has been there for 55 years, but there are more leading works of art to be admired by, for example, Jan Schoonhoven, Ek van Zanten, Dick Elffers and Gust Romijn. I think this project is a wonderful example of what art in public space can do for residents. To celebrate the new art route, we organized a coloring page competition, a drawing job that Pris Roos (City Drawing Artist 2020) did with great pleasure. Even more enthusiastic were the young participants in the coloring competition, of which all coloring pages were exhibited in Art Studio Hoogvliet. The enthusiasm and pride with which the art route was received throughout the neighborhood was inspiring and left us wanting more. The next art route is planned for Overschie, so keep an eye on our coverage.

photo Kamali from Bochove

Maartje Berendsen, freelance project leader BKOR

For me, 2023 is the year of preparation Image echoes, an art event for which BKOR and SIR invited artist and curator David Bade to respond with other artists to the collection of images from Rotterdam Central Station along the Westersingel to the Westzeedijk. An ambitious and comprehensive plan, both physically and substantively, in which eight artists participate. Image echoes consists of two parts that are related, but which you can also visit and experience separately. With eight interventions in public space that respond to existing sculptures along the sculpture route of Sculpture International Rotterdam and a varied public programme. On six afternoons we will discuss the themes of the works from different disciplines. Social, metropolitan problems take shape and content: serious, sharp and playful. The energy is off!
Last year we walked along the route with the artists, where they selected a location for a new work. We discussed the different ideas with each other. On the next walk, new plans were created while talking and the reactions of the others gave direction to the thinking. Explaining and explaining to each other is a great start to the way we want to communicate the developments within the project: the artists are followed in short videos. We show how such a creative process works, how the design is created, how it is executed and installed, including doubts and setbacks. A look behind the scenes.
Now we have to wait for the final hurdles: are subsidy providers as enthusiastic as we are?
Everyone is ready to go full throttle in 2024!

Marjolein Geraedts, communication BKOR/SIR

At the beginning of this year I visited the studio of artist Madelon Hooykaas, internationally known as a filmmaker and pioneer of video art. In response to her artwork View of wind (2023) I went with her at the Zevenhuizerplas in Nesselande in conversation about her artistry. What I still remember are the high windows, the enormous tree in the courtyard and a homemade iPhone version of Nam June Paiks TV Buddha, but especially her view of the world that she unfolded to me during our meeting. Her great interest in natural phenomena has been reflected in her work since the XNUMXs: with light, shadow, wind, reflection and patterns, she has built up an impressive oeuvre that simultaneously evokes silence and wonder. She also knows this with the recent acquisition View of wind to make visible something that is always present, but which we often hastily ignore. In a messy time in which the individual increasingly wants to speak out about differences between themselves and others, the work of Madelon Hooykaas speaks to our universal, interconnectedness.

Publication date: 20 / 12 / 2023