Old Space New Functions
Gesamtkunstwerk In Submarine Wharf
The Submarine Wharf of the Rotterdam Port is a pre-WWII structure with an industrial heritage. It first housed slipways for shipbuilding, and then became an area for storage and repairs. Its contemporary context has rendered its industrial function obsolete.
However, rather than let the space fall into obsolescence, the Port of Rotterdam, in collaboration with the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, have invited contemporary artists to make use of the space during the summer months.
The enormous hall makes all kinds of artistic projects possible. Turkish-Armenian artist, Sarkis, has been invited to transform the Submarine Wharf this year. Inspired by 17th century church interiors of Pieter Saenredam, Sarkis created an installation titled ‘Ballads’. The space is rife with symbolism, such as white feathered bicycles and even a carillon set. The bells play a piece called ‘Litany for the Whale’, alluding to the submarine heritage of the space. The carillon is also played in some of the weekly live concerts that take place within the installation.
In conjunction with the installation, the museum will be exhibiting artworks by Sarkis, including a film on the construction of ‘Ballads’. The Futuro, a futuristic-looking cinema-pod, will be onsite at the
Submarine Wharf to show some of Sarkis films on form and color.
The Submarine Wharf in Rotterdam is an excellent example of how cities can use leftover urban spaces to develop social and cultural capital; to enrich the lives of its citizens. The pop-up character of the expo is particularly interesting, this is not a industrial heritage project only, but also a very soft way to help the Rotterdam people to discover the immense harbor area in the city.