Photo: Anton Groeneschey
The Amstelpark in Amsterdam was designed specifically for the Floriade of 1972, an international horticulture exhibition occurring every ten years in the Netherlands. Since the fair ended, the municipality strived to maintain some of its attractions. Today the Amstelpark constitutes one of the two most popular parks in Amsterdam while at the same time it is a living heritage of 1970s garden architecture. Many of the gardens, flora and fauna but also the cultural and architectural artefacts, such as the columns in the Italian pavilion, the stone structures in the Japanese gardens, the broad lanes, miniature train and labyrinth, offer reminders of the origins of this park. The Amstelpark is a heritage landscape which refers to a specific Dutch vision of ordering and managing nature and the land. It still attests to a specific cultural value for horticulture and urban nature, which is continuously re-contextualized as the city changes around it. But it is more than that. The Amstelpark is also a historically layered landscape, not only in relation to the historical referents of the park itself (like the Italian columns, which refer to Antiquity), but also because of the (in)visible remains of older periods in the landscape, such as a remaining tract of land from before the Floriade, or the historical environment of the river Amstel and its estates, the surrounding landscapes bordering the park like the views near the Riekermolen windmill famously sketched by Rembrandt.
In the Amstelpark Exploded View is organized by Zone2Source, an international platform for art, nature and technology that invites artists, designers and landscape architects to develop projects in the park in which alternative practices and experiences of our natural environment are being proposed. The concept of Zone2Source is inspired by the Amstelpark, which constitutes both the context and content for many of its projects. Exhibitions, performances, interventions, discussions, workshops and excursions take place both in and outside of het Glazen Huis and the park. The aim of Zone2Source is to look at new notions of place in the Anthropocene and the changing meanings of nature – cultural connections, landscape – city, technology – nature, human – non human, etc. Since 2013 Zone2Source has stimulated artistic research into these subjects as well as into the park itself through interdisciplinary exchange between artists, designers, scientists and local knowledge systems. Thus, the park is used as a laboratory, offering artists access to knowledge by collaborating with gardeners, the nearby Hortus Botanicus, ecologists and other experts while engaging a wide audience in imagining alternative relations to nature. The same approach will guide the platform’s contribution to Exploded View, which offers a wider context in which Zone2Source can embed their artistic research projects into the park.