TV works

Sonsbeek 86

In 1949, the Sonsbeek Park near Arnhem in the Netherlands held its first international sculpture exhibition, inspired by an exhibition that had been organized the year before in London’s Battersea Park. With Sonsbeek buiten de perken exhibition in 1971, Wim Beeren pushed back the boundaries of traditional sculpture. The seventh Sonsbeek exhibition, Sonsbeek 86 did not follow until 15 years later and was curated by Saskia Bos. The eighth edition, curated by the American, Valerie Smith, followed in 1993. The ninth, under Jan Hoet, was held in 2001, and the tenth Sonsbeek exhibition is planned for 2008.

Sonsbeek 86 coincided with Chambres d’amis in Ghent, forming a fine counterpart to the urban character of the latter exhibition. Ten artists participated in both shows: Luciano Fabro, Dan Graham, Mario Merz, Marisa Merz, Hidetoshi Nagasawa, Bruce Nauman, Panamarenko, Giulio Paolini, Ettore Spaletti and Jan Vercruysse. Panamarenko, Vercruysse and Lili Dujourie were the only Belgians represented at Sonsbeek 86.

Although this was a traditional Sonsbeek Park exhibition, most of the works were indoors, in transparent pavilions and glass cases. ‘More than ever before, today’s artworks are artificial products that do not conform to nature, let alone blend in with it,’ wrote Saskia Bos in her catalogue introduction, Contouren van sculptuur (Contours of Sculpture). Most of the works were fairly classical and mainly addressed problems of form. The young generation of sculptors was well represented by Bazilebustamente, Fortuyn/O’Brien and Niek Kemps, Fischli & Weiss, Richard Deacon and Anish Kapoor, Katharina Fritsch, Harald Klingelhöller, Thomas Schütte and Reinhard Mucha.

A good many of the works in Sonsbeek 86 contradict the materials from which they are constructed, through the use of colour. Surfaces demanded particular attention. Many of the sculptures lacked mass, were transparent or ethereal. Others resembled design and architecture. Their meanings are multiple and layered, dealing with appearance and the ‘simulacrum’ or the nonmaterial.

The exhibition ran from 18th June to 14th September, 1986. [Lieven Van Den Abeele]