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Sonsbeek 9: LocusFocus

Like his predecessors, the artistic director of Sonsbeek 9, the Belgian curator Jan Hoet, took a look at previous Sonsbeek editions. In his introduction to the catalogue, Hoet stressed the importance of continuity and tradition. He referred in particular to Wim Beeren (who had died in 2000), who 30 years beforehand had been the protagonist of Sonsbeek ’71: Sonsbeek beyond the boundaries. Whereas Beeren and Valery Smith had opted to spread out the artworks, Hoet decided to limit this to three different places, hence the subtitle “LocusFocus”. The choice was made for Arnhem’s characteristic Park Sonsbeek (the cultural), the Eusebius Church (the historical), and the Kronenburg shopping centre (the socioeconomic). As Hoet wrote in his introduction, “I very deliberately wanted to keep this Sonsbeek exhibition clear, transparent, and above all readable – as well as a tangible exhibition that everyone can at least read, if not understand”. 

During Sonsbeek 9, various artworks by 75 different artists were on display. In the selection process, attention was paid to potential similarities between the sites and the interests and methods of the artists. Much like with Sonsbeek '93, the artists had the freedom to engage in a dialogue with a location or a space, in their own way. In the Eusebius Church, there were several striking works made by female artists. In the middle of the church, for example, was a huge bright pink dress made by the American artist Beverly Semmes. There was also a giant mural by the American Jessica Diamond, and a labour-intensive work on the floor made of seeds (and more) by the Italian artist Bruna Esposito. The Kronenburg shopping centre on the outskirts of Arnhem was perhaps the most daring venue. It is a place that is very far removed from art, and is characterized by the everyday, and by consumption. Thanks to the artwork, the shopping centre was experienced in a new way. The art, in turn, became vulnerable: a number of works were destroyed, some even several times. Ultimately, Sonsbeek 9: LocusFocus shed new light, in its own way, on the relationship between art and public space in Arnhem.

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