Leeuwarden: Capital of Culture

With Friesland recently making it into Lonely Planet’s Top 3 European travel destinations, its capital Leeuwarden is celebrating its position as Europe’s capital of culture. Friesland is the only one of the Netherland’s twelve provinces to have its own recognized language, Frysian, and so the following months will be dedicated to celebrating the preservation and importance of both Frysian language and culture. Leeuwarden is host to a plethora of cultural activities, with some of Mini Galerie’s very own taking part in the celebration. We highlight two projects by Graphic Surgery and Koen Taselaar.

For Graphic Surgery, its presence in the celebration is particularly special, as founding members Gysbert Zijlstra and Erris Huigens both studied and met one another in Leeuwarden. Their collaboration with Friesland’s provincial archive Tresoar is therefore of both artistic and personal importance. In Tresoar’s year-long exhibition Sssstt…! Husssh…! In Tresoar time whispers, curated by Frank den Oudsten, a selection of archival footage is on show to share the province’s history. Graphic Surgery have been asked to create a layered wall sculpture for one of Tresoar’s screening rooms. The sculpture is wooden and painted black, and covers the entire wall, serving as a unique backdrop to two screens. The duo also played with the architecture of the building, by adding a series of lines to the windows of the archive’s façade. This fusion of contemporary art with the history of Leeuwarden is highly representative of the new significance the city now has.

Koen Taselaar has also just finalised his project with the city of Leeuwarden, and is now ready to be seen by the public. Approached by the board of B&W, Taselaar was awarded the assignment of creating a design for the “Bicycle Passages Europaplein”, a series of three newly constructed underground bicycle passages in the city. In his signature bright and whimsical style, Taselaar completed a design made up entirely of ceramic tiles, which he titled Infinite Wave, after the waves of the ocean. His design mimics that of an ocean wave rising and crashing upon the shore. For the production of the artwork, Taselaar teamed up with Koninklijke Tichelaar in Makkum (1572), one of the oldest companies in The Netherlands and well-known for its ceramics.

Text by Alicia Hansen