I came up with the idea for this artwork in 2007. In the spring that year the Gallery "Beeldend Gesproken" came up with a contest for their artists. They were going to restore a few old pillars covering it with art. I decided to take part because the artworks in a public domain were always intriguing me since I came to Holland in 1992. But, it never occurred to me that I would make one of my own in Amsterdam, the capital of The Netherlands, where I live.
The street names of Amsterdam
Because I was always interested in the street names of Amsterdam since I had a student job as a mailman on Saturdays I decided I should make something that had to do with the street names in that area. All the streets were named after the 19 th century Dutch Poets. I already knew that a few of them were poets but I knew the other ones only by name. I didn’t know who and what they were. So once I found out I started to read and collect their poetry. It had to become an audiovisual artwork I told to myself. So I started to make sketches. The neighbors voted for our drafts. I became second out of 16 participants. That was a good achievement but not good enough to realize the project. But the Public Utility Housing Enterprise YMERE really liked my idea and asked me if they could keep the project in their archives /portfolio in case they decided to build the artwork some time in the future. I agreed.
A few years later, in 2009, I got a call from my gallery. There was another contest by the City Hall and I could participate with my idea. YMERE promissed me another location which was a wall in the city where I could place my artwork. So, I adjusted my idea to that wall. During the contest night all participants demonstrated their ideas and the neighborhood voted again. This time I won the second price again but this time I could also start building the artwork.
Then I came up with the idea to make the artwork in the shape of Dutch doorbells. Measurements would be smaller than the original idea but it would fit better to the budget. This way the passers-by would get the impression that the poets still lived in that neighborhood. By ringing the bell one would get to hear the poem by that particular poet through the loudspeakers.
We recorded about a five poems by each poet in total. Part of it can be heard on the website. The poems were read out loud by poets and actors who are living in or who are connected to the area somehow. We paid extra attention to the children and tourists: there is an button for the child poetry read out loud by the pupils from the Kinkerbuurtschool and the other button releases recordings in English by Eddie Woods.
We were also thinking about the neighbors and the sound pollution. Therefore we programmed the artwork to work to be active from 9 am to 5 pm. The sound is quite soft during the day for the same reason.
The artwork was realized thanks to The Public Utility Housing Enterprise YMERE who gave us a wall and thanks to the funds of Amsterdam City Hall department Oud- West. The audio installation was made by the STAIM, an organization that experiments with sound engineering and is specialized in helping artists to make their ideas into reality in the audio field. The object itself is put together by design smith Martin Vendrebos from MV Design.
For the list of other participants you can click on the link WORDS OF THANKS.
A present to the neighborhood
Most important of all is that it was a great fun for me to make this artwork and work together with all these different people, who all had faith in this project. Eventually, I want to see it as a present to the neighborhood and the city of Amsterdam who voted for my project during the contest. It was very fullfilling to give something to the city, to do something nice for the city. I hope that the people will enjoy it.
I don’t write a poetry myself. But I learned to appreciate the poetry even more than I did, because it gives us such a great impression of the Zeitgeist and serves to open up the soul of a country in a particular period of time. This has to be passed on to the generations to come even if some of them find it old fashioned.
Danilo Joanovic da Rudna
(inventor and creator of the artwork 'The Wall of Poets' (‘Muur van de Dichters’))