Monument for Informal Gathering

(Oude Waterlandseweg, Almere-Haven), 2010
2nd hand parkbenches, logs, paint and former hangout.
600 x 600 x 100 cm
 
The Monument for Informal Gathering (Monument voor Informele Samenscholing) is an intervention in public space that was conceived during N.A.P. II 2010 in Almere (NL).
 
For an exhibition in Almere, I was invited to create a work in public space. I knew there used to be an informal hangout during the 1990's constructed out of stolen park benches and a firepit. It was cleaned out by the local municipality after a new law on Informal Gathering (a.k.a. hanging around) came in use. I decided to create a re-enactment of this informal hangout and named it Monument for Informal Gathering. With this work I was dealing with several questions regarding my position as an artist towards art in public space: Researching autonomy, permissions (I had none) and community. The exhibition lasted for 3 days, my intervention 3 years. The materials and way of installing had a visual language that did not communicate 'three day artsy installation' but had a permanent public space appearance that led the project to have a long term impact on the location and its users. Over time it was well used by local youths as an hangout in the evenings and by a large group of dog-owners who gathered on Saturday mornings. Especially the dog-owners had a sense of ownership and they made sure the municipality took care of the Monument when needed. At the same time I was visiting the site occasionally and acquaintances started to voluntarily mow the lawn on a regular bases. During a very energetic party of the youngsters, the benches were burned in the firepit and the Monument came to an end.

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