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Public Insight | Tony Oursler

Published 16 Dec 2014 at 11:39 by We Are Public

In the thick of the Red Light District’s chaos stands the juxtaposing calm of the De Oude Kerk. The contrast is inescapably evident in the evening. No sign of drunk tourists, neon signs, pizza slices and clouds of weed smoke. Upon entering its sturdy walls you find yourself surrounded by the graves of Amsterdam’s famous families from the Golden Age, a painted wooden ceiling and the soft light that glimmers through the stained glass windows.

Besides being a place steeped in history, De Oude Kerk thrives as a place of contemporary culture. Take the recently opened exhibition I/O Underflow, in which American video artist Tony Oursler dissects and criticises contemporary online life by means of video projections throughout the building. During the exclusive Public Insight tour, director Jacqueline Grandjean showed a number of members around. She talked about the performance actors Oursler likes to work with and how Alan Turing – the pioneering scientist responsible for the early computer – was a source of inspiration for him. She provided insight into how the artist insisted on projecting videos onto the most unlikely surfaces (e.g. stained glass windows), how he was enthused by remarkable details like the misericorde, and the church’s decorated wooden benches that had now been taken over by small figures made by Oursler.

Having De Oude Kerk to yourself for the evening is a unique experience, which was topped off with extensive and inspiring discussions in de Koffieschenkerij. The previous director dropped by too, as if the church was the cities’ living room.

A photo essay by We Are Public photographer Bart Grietens.

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I/O Underflow can be seen until 29 March. On 30 January We Are Public members can attend de Nachtelijke Dwaling for free, a tour in and around De Oude Kerk by Melanie Bonajo.

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