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The purpose of this website is to make accessible the material regarding Oude Kerk for study and to show the artistic processes, the exhibition-making, the artistic interventions, the objects in the church, the graves, the church itself, the neighborhood, and the relations between them. Thus, creating new layers of meaning.
The Open Archive is created for everyone, so whether you’re a student, an academic, or someone with an interest in the Oude Kerk, please feel free to roam around. Not sure where to start? Take a look at the suggestions we offer or some of the inspiration!
Collectively Shaping A New Open Archive. Read more about the new Open Archive.
A new Open Archive
The Oude Kerk is a place where various visions of the world come together; both in the past and present. When acknowledging these different perspectives on the world, one has to reckon with multiple accounts of the same historical events. For this reason, we believe history is not objective, or set in stone, and using the plural 'histories' acknowledges these complex accounts of ‘history’. Part of this idea is the objective to bring ‘contested’ histories back into the public consciousness.
Oude Kerk is next to being a museum, a church, and a young contemporary art institution also a national monument. The museum is the oldest building of Amsterdam and has been the main church of the city for a long time, playing an important social role throughout the ages. The Oude Kerk was Roman Catholic at first, as it also functioned as a cemetery and archive. However, after the Alteration of 1578, it was converted into a Protestant church. Over the last century, the Oude Kerk became one of the landmarks of the city and central to the redlight district of Amsterdam.
As archives become more and more open in current day society, it is also important to look at who is making and filling the archive. Because Oude Kerk finds it important that this ‘ownership’ is shared, we believe in people contributing to the archive. Interested in contributing? We are currently working on a manual/tools to assist visitors in doing exactly this. They will become available soon.
The artistic interventions are central to Oude Kerk's existence as a contemporary art institution. Providing artists from diverse international backgrounds the opportunity to interact with the space of the church and its histories creates unique site-specific works and installations that each add new layers of meaning. Here, the concept of ‘slow curating’ is crucial, as the conversations between artists and the curator, in combination with the artist’s research, develop into a unique project. Additionally, the time provided by this method creates space for dialogue and considered decision-making. Curious about the artistic interventions in Oude Kerk? Click here!
The current-day artistic interventions and contemporary art projects in the Oude Kerk have not always been greeted with praise. Especially in the cases of Anastasis and Poems for Earthlings, there was a lot of controversy leading up to the exhibition. Additionally, a permanent work by Calo — a red window in the Heilig grafkapel — has even been met with lawsuits. These projects are examples of instances in which contemporary heritage (both tangible and intangible) collides with historical heritage, and conflict emerges. To learn more about these topics, please take a look at Anastasis, Poems for Earthlings, or the highlights of the Symposium – Here Is Where We Meet: Art and Resistance.
Art and resistance are two themes that are connected in many ways. To create a dialogue and provide new insights on these topics, Oude Kerk organized a symposium. Part of this evening were presentations and a panel consisting of individuals who approached the themes from different angles, such as academics, curators, museum directors, and artists. Interested? Please search the archive for the Symposium – Here Is Where We Meet: Art and Resistance.
Over the last centuries, an estimated 60.000 people have been buried in the Oude Kerk. Some of these individuals are well-known, were portrayed or there is documentation that proves their existence.
Many others, however, have been (almost) forgotten, as not much proof of their presence on earth has survived. And so, important stories have been lost. Stories that would have told us about daily life in Amsterdam throughout the ages, and how this developed over the last centuries. Oude Kerk believes that these accounts are highly important and therefore we want to emphasize the immense blind spots that the archive contains.
Oude Kerk is surrounded and shaped by a neighborhood with which it continually interacts. The organization finds it important to maintain and nourish this bond, finding different ways to achieve that goal. The ‘manifestations’ of Jeanne van Heeswijk is an example of this.