(Un)monumenting interview met Krijn de Koning

In the context of the exhibition (Un)monumenting: The Future Should Always Be Better, we will engage in a conversation with artist Krijn de Koning. His work ‘In here, Up There’, two works for (Un)monumenting, will be showcased during the exhibition at the NDSM Loods.

Krijn de Koning (Amsterdam 1963) followed art education at the Rietveld Academy (NL), The Ateliers (NL) and the ‘Institut Des Hautes Etudes En Art Plastique’ (FR). Since the 1990’s he has been creating site-specific sculptures and installations for exhibitions, museums, galleries and public places.

In your work, you delve into the experience of spaces and how, through various interventions, you can alter them for the visitor. How did you approach this for (Un)Monumenting? What (new) experience of the Noordstrook in the NDSM Loods did you have in mind?

It’s not necessarily my goal to change a space and have others experience it differently; it’s more of a means and an attempt to view a space anew, or if you will, to see it ‘truly’. Sometimes, this may involve ruining or even ridiculing something. Art, for me, largely revolves around ‘seeing’. That, a priori, isn’t necessarily something intellectual or formal. Hence, aspects like ‘feeling’, intuition, and a certain immediacy are crucial to me. Rational thinking is undoubtedly interesting, but, in my view, it follows thereafter.

For the exhibition (Un)Monumenting, initially, I primarily observed the space itself. It’s inherently monumental, mainly due to its enormous volume. However, what you actually see, and notably so, is the boundary of that volume, which is incredibly restless—a total cacophony of current and historical details with various and diverse meanings.

The ‘Un-Monumenting’ lies in the fact that I affect the objects.

The scarce details and objects that still remain part of the original space somewhat fade into the current situation. My idea and feeling were that it would be interesting to draw attention to some of the original objects in the warehouse. This ultimately happens in two works, one for a large hoisting beam hanging high in the rafters, and one for an old magnetic crane, also suspended in the air. Both objects are ‘framed’ by me within a temporary architectural setting.

How does the work “In here/Up there, two works for (Un)Monumenting” relate to the subject of “monuments” according to you?

You could say that the NDSM warehouse is an (architectural) monument, and the few original objects that now stand functionless are a kind of reminder of its ‘grand’ past, thus serving as monuments themselves. You increase the attention for a monument by placing a large pedestal beneath it. That’s partly what happens in my two works and could be associated with the idea of ‘Monumenting’. The objects and what they stood for are ‘elevated’. The ‘Un-Monumenting’ lies in my affecting these objects. For me, it’s mainly an attempt to strip them of their conditioning and meaning once again.

Are monuments still relevant in today’s society, in your opinion? And if so, how should monuments look, and who should they be for?

One of the classic ideas for a monument is to link a person to a significant historical deed and create a statue or representation of it. However, monuments also emerge from grand, impressive events. Such representations are naturally exaggerated, serve a social, political, or other purpose, and rigidly appeal to a reality that is often not entirely realistic.

What you actually and primarily see in the NDSM Loods is the limitation of the volume.

It’s difficult to avoid that in more modern versions. Regardless of whether you agree with the reason for a monument or not, I generally find it quite grotesque and kitschy, not particularly pleasant or human. When it comes to very serious matters, I lean towards extremely dry and understated monuments, but that clashes a bit with its own idea.

(Un)monumenting: The Future Should Always Be Better is on display until February 18th at the outdoor area of the NDSM wharf and inside the NDSM Loods. For more information, click the button below.

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