Observatorium is a studio for public art and place-making in Rotterdam. They present their works of art in a new book, published by Rotterdam-based nai010 publishers. Public Art for Public Life – Learnings from Observatorium will be presented on July 1 at Keilepand.
Geert van de Camp, Andre Dekker, Lieven Poutsma and Ruud Reutelingsperger founded Observatorium in 1997. All living and working in Rotterdam with backgrounds in art, architecture, education, and writing. Their artworks help create a new meaning in environments. Observatorium uses the media of sculpture, architecture, and art installation to make functional facilities and objects that are monumental, emblematic and meaningful.
They state: ”We like our artworks to be a common good. To create a sense of place. We are always trying to evoke a contemplative moment in which the artwork connects the audience. With the actual physical site and a deep sense of the condition humaine. At best an artwork creates a sense of place and intense attention. We aim for creating a sense of wonder in very often already magical places.”
Sculptures in Rotterdam
All over the planet, they have created works of art that are not only to look at but also to enter, observe and reflect from. Over the past 25 years, Observatorium produced an internationally significant body of work. From fly-overs underneath the Kleinpolderplein highway intersection in Rotterdam to Dwelling in Seclusion. A work of art devoted to solitude in New York. And from the sculpture Zandwacht (Sand Watch) in the Port of Rotterdam to a flagship project as part of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s arts and culture program in London. Urban parks, prisons, spoil tips, housing estates, motorways, nature reserves and industrial heritage are all part of our field of operations in cities and landscapes around the world.
The mostly large-scale projects are emblematic of their surroundings. Whether they are in a residential area in transition or an industrial landscape that is being transformed into a nature reserve and are intended to help visitors and local residents find meaning and a future in these changes.
Public Art for Public Life is a summary publication. In the book, the members of Observatorium are searching for the results, significance, and lessons of their body of work on the interface between architecture, sculpture, and landscape. Key issues are the creative process, temporality, integration in changing (urban) landscapes, public participation, and imagination. The result is a book full of inspiring examples of the power of art in the public space.