I warned you last month of the gallery closings to come (not the results of cultural funding cuts, but of the more benign “we’re all going on holiday – see you in September” variety). And now here they are. What’s an art lover to do in August in the Netherlands? Get out of Amsterdam for the day, that’s what. Here are suggestions for five leuke uitstapjes you should make this summer.
1) Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen
Fort Vijfhuizen comprises part of the Defense Line of Amsterdam (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site), which includes forts, batteries, canals, locks, levies, and flood plains. This particular fort, just outside of Haarlem, is now a contemporary art space, which hosts multiple exhibitions each year in addition to hosting artists-in-residence.
The current exhibition is Dutch artist Rob Sweere’s In Orbit, where the artist’s participatory works highlight the viewer’s experience of space, including the new Contemplatorium: Vortex, a ten-meter high “experience room.” Restaurant ‘t Fort is open on the weekends to complement your visit.
(Bonus Art Fort tip: Kunstfort Asperen is another cool fortification-turned-art-space.)
2) Trajectum Lumen
This is not so much a day trip as a night one. Last summer Utrecht became home to a light-based city art tour called Trajectum Lumen. This map- and light-arrow guided tour takes visitors around the center of Utrecht in the dark. Visitors can discover the city for the first time and locals can experience old spaces anew. Pick up a map at the Apollo Hotel (where a rotating artwork by Utrecht School of the Arts students starts the show) and follow the built-into-the-ground light trail. This time of year you’ll have to wait until it’s pretty late for it to be dark enough to fully appreciate the works, but you’ll be thankful for the milder weather. The tour “follows artistically lit locations” under tunnels, on the sides of buildings, in canals, and on the city’s herringbone brick paths and streets. The light artists include students, designers, landscape architects, and visual artists like Gabriel Lester.
3) Natuurkunst Drenthe Sculpture Walk
If you want to get even further out of Amsterdam, perhaps all the way to the northeast of the country, then check out the projects of Foundation Natuurkunst Drenthe, which was founded in 2005 to celebrate art-in-nature. Each year through 2011, the foundation selects a group of artists to participate in an art-in-nature symposium, inviting them to create sculptures along an annually selected “walk” through the Drenthe Province landscape. This final year’s theme is “Borderland” and the walk is situated in the state forest behind the Ellert and Brammert Openluchtmuseum (a historical-reenactment-based “open air museum”). The walk opened in May of this year and will conclude at the start of 2012.
4) Onderzeebootloods, Rotterdam
ArtSlant Amsterdam writer, Nicola Bozzi, covered Elmgreen & Dragset’s The One and the Many earlier this summer, and if you still haven’t visited this repurposed submarine wharf in industrial Rotterdam, what exactly are you waiting for? The show itself is entertaining for the art and non-art-lover alike, but the whole experience makes a great day trip, including a ferry ride along the Nieuwe Maas and optional self-led walking tours of the city’s impressive public art collection.
5) The Kröller-Müller Museum and sculpture park, Hoge Veluwe National Park
Nicola also offered a mixed review of Jan Fabre’s Hortus Corpus at the Kröller-Müller Museum this summer. If you’re not feeling Fabre’s work, nor the museum’s impressive collection of Van Gogh paintings and Dutch artwork, don’t worry. You will find the twenty-five-hectare sculpture garden surrounding the museum worth the trip alone. Artworks include Jean Dubuffet’s unique environment Jardin d’email, Sol LeWitt’s Six-sided tower, and Tom Claassen’s 18 Men in Wood. As an added bonus you can cycle through the surrounding national park’s woods and sand dunes on free white bicycles (remnants of the radical and unsuccessful White Bicycle Plan in 1960s Amsterdam).
~Andrea Alessi, a writer living in the Netherlands.
(Images: Kunstfort aerial photo; Courtesy of Kunstfort Vijhuizen; Rob Sweere, In Orbit; photo courtest of artist and Kunstfort Vijfhuizen; Trajectum Lumen, Okra Landscape, Architechts photo courtesy of Trajectum Lumen; Martine de Jong, Trust me!; Courtesy of Foundation Natuurkunst Drenthe; Elmgreen & Dragset, The One and The Many, exhibition view; Photo by Catalina Iorga; Jean Dubuffet, Jardin d’email at the Kröller-Müller Museum; Photo by Andrea Alessi)