Affiche Sonsbeek 1993

Sonsbeek 1993

In the preparations for each new Sonsbeek exhibition, the question arises of how the art should be placed in the park. Much like her predecessor Saskia Bos, the American curator Valerie Smith developed her own strategy for Sonsbeek 93. First of all, she chose to involve the city centre as well as areas on the outskirts of Arnhem, in addition to the park itself. These three rings are depicted in the logo of Sonsbeek 93. Smith's ideas can be summed up with the words identity, transparency, and process.

Forty-eight artists from all over the world were given the opportunity to create site-specific works of art. Smith wanted them to critically examine the identity of a place, possibly in relation to its residents. The central questions were: how are public spaces set up? How do they function? Who uses them? This resulted on one hand in enigmatic works of art, such as Michael Asher's project with 24 text signs on tree stumps in Sonsbeek. On the other hand, there was provocative art. A good example is Marc Quinn's 12% Proof (1993), also known as “The Pisser”. Located next to the Koepelkerk church, this work, featuring a sculpture of a man with an erection in a phone booth, was a crowd favourite. At the same time, it was also defaced and vandalized. It inspired people to think about the openness of the space around the church. Finally, Sonsbeek 93 could also be considered in terms of process. In many of these artworks, the finished product was not the main point, but rather the process that preceded it, or the reactions that the works provoked. This idea was reflected in the catalogue, in which only the process of cooperation between Smith and the artists was described. Pictures of the final artworks were largely absent.

The media reacted critically to Smith's concept. But in retrospect, Sonsbeek 93 is considered an important exhibition in the development towards a more social practice of art. The American writer Jens Hoffman even counts Sonsbeek 93 among the fifty most influential exhibitions of the past 25 years.

Affiche Sonsbeek 1993