Exhibition and project in public space
exhibition curated by Zoë Gray
With 'Beton Belvedere', Stroom Den Haag presents the first solo exhibition in the Netherlands of the French artist Cyprien Gaillard. Intrigued by contemporary ruins and concerned by the rapid destruction of modernist architecture, Gaillard explores notions of state vandalism, gentrification and the picturesque. The exhibition is curated by Zoë Gray and is accompanied by an ambitious project in public space, titled 'Dunepark'. Gaillard's site-specific project is the excavation of a World War II bunker currently buried in a hill overlooking the beach of Scheveningen.
Gaillard's exhibition at Stroom presents an overview of his work from the past few years, revealing his unique vision of our contemporary landscape. Included are two large photographs, 'View over Sighthill' and 'Chateau d'Oiron' (both 2008). Whilst seeming to depict two unrelated buildings – a tower block in Glasgow and a French 18th century chateau – these two pictures reveal an enduring fascination of the artist: the widespread demolition of modernist architecture across Europe and the cultural amnesia that he believes this demolition will cause. Also presented at Stroom are Gaillard's etchings 'Belief in the Age of Disbelief' (2005), in which iconic Modernist towers are inserted into the rural landscapes of 17th century Holland. As a counterpart to Gaillard's work, a sequence of etchings by the Italian master Piranesi are shown – on loan for the first time ever from the collection of the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. These works locate Gaillard's very contempora ry practice within the art historical tradition of landscape, whilst also revealing the ongoing artistic fascination with ruins and with shifting notions of the picturesque.
Parallel to the show, Gaillard will excavate a German bunker currently buried in a hill overlooking the beach of Scheveningen. This is an area already undergoing drastic transformation as the existing communities and industries are displaced to make way for new housing developments. Gaillard's project comments obliquely on this process of gentrification and the way in which outmoded architecture is buried or hidden beneath new layers of urban development. This work, titled 'Dunepark' – a rough translation of its location – can be seen as the embodiment of the 'Bunker Archeology' carried out by the French cultural theorist Paul Virilio in his eponymous 1975 book and exhibition. For Gaillard, the physical process of excavating is a form of negative sculpting. He sees this submerged bunker as a buried readymade. With the help of large earth-moving equipment and volunteers of the Foundation Atlantikwall Museum Scheveningen, Gaillard will dig out this massive form to reveal it in all its brutalist glory, before recovering it once more.
'Beton Belvedere' is made possible by the generous support of the Mondriaan Foundation and Maison Descartes - Institut Français des Pays-Bas. Special thanks to the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, Laura Bartlett Gallery London, Cosmic Gallery Paris, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen.
'Dunepark' is organized in collaboration with the Foundation Atlantikwall Museum Scheveningen. The bunker excavation is made possible by the generous support of the City of The Hague (Culture and Finances), Vestia Den Haag Scheveningen, CulturesFrance Paris and Fonds 1818 The Hague.
Location: Bosjes van Poot, corner Nieboerweg – Houtrustweg in Scheveningen
Image: View over Sighthill, 2008, photo: Courtesy of Laura Bartlett Gallery, London
For a visit to the bunker during the excavation or more information please contact Hildegard Beijersbergen-Blom at firstname.lastname@example.org or +31 (0)70-3658985.
Stroom Den Haag
Hogewal 1-9 / 2514 HA The Hague The Netherlands
Opening hours: Wednesday-Sunday 12-5 pm