Public art and design studio Studio Wessels Boer was founded in 2001 by Marjet Wessels Boer after she graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. The artist “animates” public spaces with the goal of making people feel at home, connecting them to their surroundings and inspiring their curiosity. These works are often integrated into the architecture of existing structures.
In 2013, with the help of art adviser Marieke Gerritsen, Boer completed work on a “dime house” in Mauritskade, Amsterdam.
The artist explains:
“The ‘dime houses’ from 1870 were one of the first social housing projects in the Netherlands. They are the result of a group of idealistic workers who, by asking a dime a week for membership, founded in 1868 the Building Society for Home Ownership (BVEW).
“The little houses are situated perpendicular to the busy Mauritskade and were hidden behind a blank wall. To give the passersby a sense of the intimacy of this small dead-end street and to make them curious to the particular history of the dime houses, artist Marjet Wessels Boer transformed the blank wall into a magnified brick type case.
“Originally a type case was used by a typesetter to store type. In this way, the work refers to the newspaper that the BVEW released to raise members for BVEW. In more recent times a type case is primarily used as a display case in which souvenirs and objets trouvés are proudly shown.
“Wessels Boer also uses the type case as a display case. She collected personal and historical stories of the dime houses and translated them into aluminum silhouettes. The objects engraved with house numbers are proposed by current inhabitants. The result is a motley collection of objects, from carpet beater to elephant. Together the silhouettes outline the history of a unique place in Amsterdam.”
In this way the houses are seen as containers for the lives and experiences of their inhabitants. These events make up the spiritual architecture of the buildings in which they occurred. Once they are concluded, they are set aside in a display case for further use, reference or appreciation.
Bill Rodgers is a Contributing Editor at CFile.
Above image: Studio Wessels Boer, It Started with a Dime, 2013, brick, aluminum
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