Rotterdam is known for having a lot of great art museums. There is Boijmans van Beuningen, Kunsthal, Het Nieuwe Instituut and Nederlands Fotomuseum. Rotterdam is also known for its annual Art Rotterdam Week. Within a period of 5 days (not one week), you get to explore everything about art, design and photography. This year Art Rotterdam Week was on from 8th-12th February.
The event is held in different locations in Rotterdam. Some locations are within walk distance, but most of them aren’t. For those who do not live in Rotterdam, there is a free shuttle bus that takes you to the six main locations. These are OBJECT Rotterdam, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Museumpark, WTC Art Fair, AVL-Mundo and Art Rotterdam.
In a previous year, I only managed to give OBJECT Rotterdam and some galleries on Witte De Withstraat a visit. There is so much more to visit that you really need at least two days if you want to see and experience everything that Art Rotterdam Week has to offer. The question I asked myself was: ‘How many locations can you visit in one day?’ I gave it a try and on a wintry day, I visited five locations.
Haute Photographie is my first stop. It is held inside LP2, a spacious location next to Nederlands Fotomuseum. This fairly new photography fair shows photography from nearly 50 international artists. I quite like the fact that this kind of events are visited by all sorts of people. My best memory is that of a dad explaining to his 4-year-old son what he sees in one particular photograph. You can read more about Haute Photographie in an article that Citinerary colleague Laura wrote.
Ten minutes away from Haute Photographie is Rotterdam Photo 2017, an outside exhibition inside 20 containers. Talented artists are being invited to show their work inside a container, but also on billboards or inside a coffee bar. It is a free event. This makes it a good start for those who are not that familiar with photography but are curious to know what kind of photography is out there. Most artists are there themselves to tell the stories about their photography.
If you walk another ten minutes towards Maashaven you will see this gigantic ship named SS Rotterdam. Every year this ship is the host of the design fair. I was excited to give OBJECT a visit like I did last year. OBJECT does not only give a good impression of what is going on in the design world, you also get to explore the ship. There is design inside the former swimming pool, engine rooms, promenades and hotel rooms. I think it is really cool to explore the SS Rotterdam, learn about its history and see design at the same time.
If you want a bit of quietness, numerous galleries and studio’s open their doors and are part of Art Rotterdam Week. I decided to give a visit. Their new exhibition ‘How to disappear completely’ is about that feeling of escaping everyday reality. Garage Rotterdam is nowhere near any of the busy event locations. Yes, it did feel like a short escapism. Also, because of the great spacious architecture of the gallery.
My final stop is the Art Rotterdam fair that is being held inside the former Van Nelle Factory. I am not always a big fan of art fairs where galleries exhibit inside booths. Art Rotterdam is more than that. You will, of course, see what international galleries represent, but also newest developments in contemporary art. The exhibition Prospects & Concepts shows creations of young talent. Whether it is art on canvas, visual art, installations or a performance. This diversity is what I like a lot. In a next door Van Nelle building there is the event Intersections. This exhibition shows installations, site-specific works and performances by non-profit spaces & artist initiatives. It is a little bit different than what you see inside the main building of Art Rotterdam.
Did you give Art Rotterdam Week a visit? What did you visit that I didn’t?
I am looking forward to Art Rotterdam Week next year and perhaps I will make it a two-day outing.
Words & photography by Nicole Blommers