TodaysArt takes over The Hague’s Spuiplein

ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles], Collective Works and Refunc transform The Hague's Spuiplein into a 21st century Agora

TodaysArt takes over The Hague’s Spuiplein

In exactly two weeks, we’ll be returning to the heart of the city with an adventurous weekend of performances, club nights, installations and interventions. Having previously announced festival acts Pantha du Prince, Dopplereffekt + AntiVJ, NONOTAK and Paula Temple, among others, we’re now ready to reveal our Spuiplein plans. We’ll be taking over the city’s central square from 22 – 25 September with onsite interventions and installations, and have also added a film program.

Public under Construction
For the fourth year running, we’ve has found itself a new home. Trading in the Dutch seaside of the past two editions, the festival follows the strong westerly winds and lands smack-dab in the heart of The Hague. But the city we’ve returned to has profoundly changed. The Spuiplein, TodaysArt’s birthplace and home for the first 8 editions, is not what it used to be. The Dr. Anton Philipszaal has been demolished. The old Ministry of Justice tower is a distant memory. And all that remains of the Rem Koolhaas’s Lucent Danstheater is a single, rear facade. The Spuiplein is a construction site, embroiled in a complex discussion about the use of public space and that which determines it.

We’re no strangers to such controversial locations. Driven by the desire to engage with public debate and contemporary societal issues, we’ve always sought out public spaces with a checkered past and a hotly debated future. With TodaysArt 2016, the festival taps into the wider discussion regarding the transformation of urban public space.

TodaysArt Director Olof van Winden explains:
“Public spaces are supposed to be places where people can come together. Where they can connect, strike up a conversation or come into conflict. With the onset of new rules and regulations, complex decision-making processes, privatization, gentrification, terrorism, security, you name it, our public spaces are rapidly changing. What we can say and do within them is increasingly restricted and we don’t even realize it. With TodaysArt 2016, we want to open up the debate and address questions about public space, the public domain, and in turn our democracy and society.”

Agoras of the 21st Century
Calling on architecture studio ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles], graphic design duo Collective Works and life extension service Refunc, TodaysArt 2016 will transform the Spuiplein into a space for open and transparent public debate. Drawing inspiration from the ancient Greek city-state and the ancestral home of public space, the Agora, ZUS, Collective Works and Refunc have designed four life-size, amphitheatre-like structures that are envisioned as the Agoras of the 21st Century.

Placed on the Spuiplein and in the festival heart, the Agoras will play host to a series of talks, debates and performances. Among the performing artists and speakers are Nora Turato, Failed Architecture, and Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman of Bureau ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles]. In keeping with the ancient tradition, the Agoras will also become bars and impromptu ‘outdoor clubs’, or places for the audience to relax, catch their breath and reflect.


Bread and Circuses
The debate surrounding public space extends to the remainder of the program on and around the Spuiplein. Installations and interventions on the Spuiplein include James Bridle’s Drone Shadow, Christian Faelsnaes’s Justified Beliefs, La Jetée’s Friction Atlas as well as the work of TodaysArt 2016 Open Call winners Pablo Calderón Salazar, Rebekka Kiesewetter, La Jetée, Marginal and Parasite 2.0.

Across the street at Filmhuis Den Haag, we’ll be presenting a film program comprising a mix of short films by emerging filmmakers and artists from the Netherlands and beyond that collectively showcase the myriad of ways in which individuals interact with their surrounding public space. Included in the program that will be looped throughout the Friday and Saturday of the festival are short films by, among others, Liz Magic Laser, PWR, Randa Maroufi and Margaret Haines. Also confirmed for the Filmhuis is a special presentation of Floris Kaayk’s The Modular Body and screenings of Werner Herzog’s latest film, Lo and Behold.

TodaysArt 2016 takes place on 22 – 25 September. The Spuiplein will be freely accessible and open for the public on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 September. Tickets for the festival program including the film program are available here.