Van Gogh Mile art route marks temporary relocation of the Van Gogh Museum to the Hermitage Amsterdam

Van Gogh Mile art route marks temporary relocation of the Van Gogh Museum to the Hermitage Amsterdam

Always continue walking a lot and loving nature, for that’s the real way to learn to understand art better and better. Painters understand nature and love it, and teach us to see. – Vincent van Gogh

Artery Foundation and the Van Gogh Museum join forces for the art project Van Gogh Mile, a specially devised walking route in Amsterdam that starts at the Van Gogh Museum and ends at the Hermitage Amsterdam. The route, designed by the artist Henk Schut, will lead visitors along an inspiring path to the Van Gogh Museum’s temporary location (due to essential renovation works) at the Hermitage Amsterdam. With the city of Amsterdam as his background, Schut’s work in the public space will stimulate walkers’ senses with audio artworks, virtual apparitions, text and images, inspired by the letters of Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890). A taut red line over sixteen feet above the ground will indicate the direction of the 1.4-mile route, forging a physical link between the Van Gogh Museum and the Hermitage Amsterdam. The walk will take about 30 minutes and can be enjoyed from 29 September 2012 until 25 April 2013. The Van Gogh Mile has been made possible by the generous support of the VSBfonds and Amsterdam Fund for the Arts.

Van Gogh Mile
This 1.4-mile artwork will be created in the public space and will be constantly evolving throughout the seven months of the Van Gogh Museum’s stay in the Hermitage. The letters that Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo inspired Henk Schut to make the Van Gogh Mile, just as Van Gogh himself was inspired by artists such as Rembrandt. By confronting the general public − and contemporary artists − with Van Gogh’s work and letters, and asking them to share their reactions with others, the project will continue this transmission of inspiration. The Van Gogh Mile is a triptych consisting of The Red Line, sound installations, and the Van Gogh Mile App. These layers give different dimensions to the same image. Together they demonstrate that the themes discussed in Vincent’s letters are still relevant today.

The Red Line
The Red Line, the most exciting part of the artwork, will extend zigzag fashion through the city, over sixteen feet above the ground, forging a physical connection between the Van Gogh Museum and the Hermitage Amsterdam. The line is a reference to looking differently, to the perspectival frame that Van Gogh used to enclose portions of reality for his work; it draws walkers’ gaze upwards, inviting them to look at the city from a different point of view. Schut also sees The Red Line as a way of passing on inspiration from one artist to another. He will therefore be approaching contemporary artists and asking them to respond to specially selected passages from Van Gogh’s letters. In this way, Schut will be extending the red line of inspiration. In their turn, the walking public can respond to these fragments using the social media, for instance by sharing them with their friends on Facebook. Schut will carry on approaching artists throughout the project period.

Sound installations
At several places along the route, isolated audio works will create a new reality, as if Van Gogh were addressing his public ‘directly’, as a guide for the journey. Walkers can listen to passages from Van Gogh’s letters at different places along the route. Eventually all these fragments will come together in the courtyard of the Hermitage Amsterdam, where people can listen to them at their leisure, with the sound of bells ringing from Amsterdam’s church towers in the background. This sound world was also part of Van Gogh’s own walks around Amsterdam.

Van Gogh Mile App
The Van Gogh Mile App opens up an alternative world for the walkers, a fusion of reality and fiction. Schut uses modern multimedia technologies to help us to experience the space in which we are moving in a different way. Smartphones and tablets will display landscapes in the middle of Amsterdam, will turn bright daylight into night time, and transform Museumplein into an ocean of sunflowers. Four one-minute film clips will take walkers into the world as experienced by Van Gogh, with an encounter between his work and, for instance, that of his great example Rembrandt. Visitors can use the app to share their experiences with friends online, and in this way pass on the inspiration of art themselves. The Van Gogh Mile App can be downloaded anywhere for free. There is a free wifi hotspot at Museumplein, near the Museum Ticketshop, and another one at the Hermitage Amsterdam.

Henk Schut
Henk Schut (1957) is a multidisciplinary artist, director, and designer. The multi-faceted nature of his work gives him the opportunity to move from one art form to another and to devise new combinations. One of the distinctive features of his work is its use of, and strong connection to, location. He was the artistic director of Dogtroep theatre collective (2004−2008), has directed major international operatic productions, and designed installations for companies ranging from the Royal Opera House in London to the Bayerische Staats Opera in Munich. In 1992 he received a nomination for the Laurence Olivier Award for his design of Inscape (Royal Opera House, Covent Garden) and the modern opera The Dancer Hotoke. In 1996 he received the Barclays New Stages Award for Vesalius, a Requiem.

The Van Gogh Museum is relocating temporarily to the Hermitage Amsterdam
The Van Gogh Museum is relocating temporarily to the Hermitage Amsterdam, from 29 September 2012 to 25 April 2013. Especially for this period, the museum is organising the presentation Vincent: The Van Gogh Museum in the Hermitage Amsterdam. About 75 of Van Gogh’s paintings, a selection from his letters, works on paper and objects will be presented in such a way as to enable visitors to follow the personal journey of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) to the essence of his artistic genius.

Van Gogh Mile. Photo: Martijn van den Dobbelsteen

The Van Gogh Mile will be launched at the end of September.

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