Exchange continues after the exhibition
The International contemporary art exhibition SONSBEEK '16 has ended, but the exchange initiated by the curatorial collective ruangrupa is getting a follow-up. SONSBEEK '16: transACTION was a bold and successful experiment for this Indonesian collective. In their proposal for the exhibition in Arnhem, ruangrupa did not begin with a “concept”, but rather with a theme and a method. Their whole approach focused on experimentation and exchange, a process where the outcome is unpredictable, and where failure can be a fruitful result. During its 14-week run, SONSBEEK '16: transACTION attracted about 140,000 visitors.
The exhibition as a whole, and in particular the artists and their works, deepened the contacts with residents, visitors, and the local area. This was due in part to the hospitable and inspiring efforts of more than 150 volunteers and guides. With the social urgency of the theme, as well as the enthusiastic participation of the audience and many Arnhem residents, the SONSBEEK '16 edition has been one that is firmly anchored in society.
SONSBEEK '16 took place in Park Sonsbeek, several locations in the city and in Museum Arnhem and Museum Bronbeek. In total, ruangrupa selected 45 artists from 22 countries, who made a total of 56 works. Some of these works were linked to local cultural partners, such as CODE ROOD, Generale Oost, Motel Spatie, and Focus Filmtheater, who together created programming in the city.
Museum Arnhem featured the exhibition transHISTORY: this is my truth, tell me yours, which focused on personal histories, often related to the history of colonization. Museum Bronbeek featured a work of Juul Sadée that addressed the colonial past, especially its impact on the second generation of the Moluccan community.
With their installations, the artists in Park Sonsbeek invited residents and visitors to respond to the works, for example by altering or adding something to them. With their “open call”, ruangrupa invited everyone to actually use the works. During the exhibition, residents and visitors organized 80 different activities, including birthday parties, yoga classes, performances, workshops, and the use of artworks as a theatre café and information centre during the Sonsbeek Theater Avenue.
Continuation of ruru huis and ruru buitendienst
Although SONSBEEK '16 was an experiment with an open end, ruangrupa expressed their hope at the start of the exhibition that the many encounters, friendships, and international collaborations would also continue after the exhibition ended. With the continuation of the ruru huis, a working and meeting place that ruangrupa opened a year before the actual opening of the exhibition with the goal of launching the meeting and collaboration process, SONSBEEK '16 will have a sequel. Likewise, the ruru buitendienst research program, which explores the idea of public space in Arnhem by means of research, artistic interventions, and alternative city walks, will also remain active.
With this exhibition, the Sonsbeek International Foundation and the Municipality of Arnhem have expressed their ambition to have the exhibition take place every four years. In addition, a feasibility study is currently underway for “State of Fashion in 2018”, which would also take place once every four years. By organizing a major event every two years, the Sonsbeek International Foundation would take on a structural character.