Bijlmer Years 1989-1997, Patrick Koster en Thérèse Zoekende, mixed media
Patrick Koster (NL, 1967) and Thérèse Zoekende (NL, 1972), are artists who work together on an ad hoc basis. For the exhibition Ode to the Bijlmer in CBK South-easth, they made the work Bijlmer Years 1989-1997 in which they use trusted visual imagery to bring to life their shared Bijlmer history.
Twenty-nine years ago, as students at the Rietveld Academy, they came to live in this district, but after nine years, urban renewal forced them to leave. Their earlier Bijlmer habitat, former subject matter for their artistic work, also had a significant influence on their personal and artistic development.
The project Bijlmer Years 1989-1997 is a mixed-media installation consisting of videos with sound, pinhole photographs, and illuminated panels showing the Bijlmer in its authentic state. The project is largely based in the 1990’s, years which likewise formed a kind of tipping point for the neighbourhood.
Decline had reached an absolute low. Through the high level of crime, drug nuisance, and general social problems, it was beginning to look more and more as though the progresive urban concept of the Bijlmer as ‘utopian city’ could simply be an illusion, a dystopia. In July of 1992, Amsterdam decided to start with the large-scale project ‘Renewal Bijlmermeer’, which broke with the original ideas of the designers of the Bijlmer.
Bijlmer Years 1989-1997 is an artistic video and photography project consisting of almost fossilesed images of the Bijlmer. Fifty years ago the district was completed, and 25 years ago it was already mostly relegated to history. Likewise, the images of the project are only thirty years old, yet already they belong to the more or less forgotten past of the old Bijlmer. From conversations with young inhabitants of the renewed Kraaiennest, it appears, for exemple, that they have never even heard of the high-rise called Koningshoef. The project has been made from an insiders’ standpoint and it makes palpable ho wit was, to have lived and worked in the old Bijlmer.
This project has been made possible in part through a contribution from the AFK (Amsterdam Fund for the Arts).