March 15, 2016

Cities as Open-Air Museums

 
“Cities are like open-air museums. It sounds like an idealistic dream, but I am striving to realize this dream. Confronting a public surrounded by art every day. Art has a positive influence on people and their personal development: it broadens their horizons and renders them more tolerant towards differences in society.”
Arne Quinze, a Belgian artist known for his unconventional public installations who is speaking at the 2016 Chicago Forum on Global Cities
 
Contemporary artist Arne Quinze is known for constructing large public installations in cities all over the world since the late 1990s. He has taken on the mission to change cities into open-air museums and has been involved in large-scale public installations in the city centers of São Paulo, Shanghai, Brussels, New York, Beirut, Humen (Hong Kong), and Munich among others. He has a clear message to attract people to unusual spaces and confront them with the question of rethinking their everyday environment.
 
Contemporary cultures, which is taught in specific institutes such as museums, theatres, and universities are a necessity. Yet these places are only visited by a small group of people in our society. Arne Quinze’s daily quest consists of changing this habit and expanding the path toward culture, education, and liberty to make them more accessible to everyone. 
 
One notable example of this experience can be seen in the small city of Mons in southern Belgium. Mons was named the 2015 European Capital of Culture (jointly with Pilsen in the Czech Republic) by the European Commission. Throughout the year, the city hosted over 300 events, ranging from a major Van Gogh exhibition to a maze of 8,000 sunflowers. “The most impressive new work of modern art,” according to the Guardian, was Arne Quinze’s sprawling wooden structure, called The Passenger.
 

Belgian artist Arne Quinze's public installation "The Passenger" on display at Rue de Nimy in the city of Mons, Belgium. 
 
The Passenger was created out of 26 kilometers of FSC-inspected wood from ecologically regulated sources. It was constructed specifically for the city of Mons. It measures 43 meters long and 16 meters high, taking up Rue de Nimy in the old center of Mons. After three years of cultural, demographic and engineering studies, the construction was completed on October 15, 2015. In 2020, the art installation will be fully recycled.
 
The Passenger symbolizes the flux of people who have gone down Rue de Nimy since its beginnings in the 13th century as the main entrance to the Grand-Place in Mons, one of the more important centers of commerce in the province of Hainaut in medieval times. It aims to concentrate on the cultural, religious and moral evolution of our modern society by intervening into the daily lives of passers-by. 
 

People view Arne Quinze's public installation "The Passenger" at night in Mons, Belgium.
 
“The curiosity about how we live, communicate with each other and our relationship with nature, has nurtured the research for my public installations and work. People are always central to all my work,” says Arne Quinze.
 
Arne Quinze is a Belgian artist known for his unconventional public installations. He will be speaking at the 2016 Chicago Forum on Global Cities. For more information visit www.arnequinze.com.

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