Out of Focus
Once again overtaken by time. That is the fate of Teniersstraat in the Schilderswijk district of The Hague. In the 1980s, the Schilderswijk was radically transformed. During a large-scale urban renovation, all the old houses had to make way for new construction. This was to thoroughly improve the livability of the working-class neighborhood.
To preserve something of the atmosphere of the old Schilderswijk, in 1986 Holslag "translated" a black-and-white photograph of the Teniersstraat into a monumental tile tableau measuring more than 9 by 10 meters on the facade of the building on the corner of the Abraham Bloemaertstraat and the Van Dijckstraat. On it was a reconstruction of the old Teniersstraat that was originally just across the street. The white represents the memory of a street that no longer exists. With this color, the relief also stood out well against the dark red brick facade. Until in 2014, these houses also hit the demolition hammer.
Thanks to poet Eelco van Waals and architect Peter Drijver, and with the support of several cultural institutions, the demolition of the tile tableau itself was prevented. They managed to bring the right people together and formed a Committee to Preserve Artwork Berry Holslag Schilderswijk. The result was an agreement between the municipality of The Hague and the owner of the house on the corner to relocate the tile picture in the same spot.
All 1,200-plus tiles of Holslag's artwork were then carefully removed from the old wall and transferred to the firm Zuliani Kunst en Terrazzo in Zoetermeer. Together with the artist, the tableau was restored where necessary. Since 2019, it has been ready for relocation. Talks between the Committee, the municipality and the owner of the corner building about its reinstatement have been difficult. The municipality is considering next steps. Due to the closure of the Zuliani firm, the tile tableau will be transferred to the storage of art transporter Hizkia Van Kralingen in the winter of 2022. There it awaits (re)placement. To be continued.
10.65 x h. 9.50 m
Abraham Bloemaertstraat, Den Haag
52.069107339567, 4.3071152692095 View on map
'I fell under the spell of that picture,' headlined the 'Haagsche Courant' of Sept. 15, 1987. The newspaper spoke to sculptor Berry Holslag about the creation of her artwork on a blind wall in the Abraham Bloemaertstraat. The photograph that fascinated Holslag was a black-and-white shot of nearby Teniers Street from the 1960s. She was sent it as part of the competition "Neighborhood in Art-Art in the Neighborhood" organized by the Volksbuurt Museum. The idea was to use art in an Outdoor Museum to keep the atmosphere and culture of the old working-class neighborhood alive at the time of a massive urban renewal operation. The competition allowed residents to participate in the design of their own neighborhood. Jongeren Organisatie Schilderswijk (JOS) was one of the participants.
Because of her appealing ceramic sculptures elsewhere in the city, JOS invited Holslag to jointly submit a design using Teniers Street as a starting point. Holslag enlarged the photograph in question to the size of an exterior wall measuring more than 10 by 9 meters and converted the white parts into white ceramic tiles. In this way she retained the suggestion of a photograph without rendering all the details. And as it goes with memories, the representation in tiles is a tad blurry. Holslag's monumental design won. Remarkably, she literally brings the "neighborhood into art" and "art into the neighborhood. The old neighborhood became a work of art on a wall in that same, renovated neighborhood. The photograph immediately brings the old Schilderswijk to life. With its densely packed houses and lively courtyards. Where scarce public space was taken up by cars.