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McQueen turns air blue in Amsterdam

8 March 2012 09.45 GMT

(Netherlands) - Artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen creates his first public light art project in Amsterdam's Vondelpark for Stedelijk Museum.

‘Blues Before Sunrise’, artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen's first public light art project, began last night in Amsterdam's largest public park, the Vondelpark. Until the 25th of March, all 275 streetlamps in the park will emit blue light instead of white, vividly transforming the nighttime experience of Amsterdam's most well known urban “green space”.

Replacing the conventional warm white light with a subdued blue toned light, McQueen uses illumination to transform the environment, giving rise to a host of new associations. Like sound or music, light changes the atmosphere and alters one's perception of a place. In this way, Blues Before Sunrise blends the sensory and cinematic.

Blues Before Sunrise takes its title from a 1934 Blues standard written by American pianist Leroy Carr and performed with American guitarist and singer Scrapper Blackwell. “The soul of the piece comes from the Blues,” says McQueen. “It haunts like no other music can.”

Stedelijk Museum director Ann Goldstein states, “McQueen's remarkable Blues Before Sunrise will not only alter our perception of the Vondelpark, it will also heighten our sensation of routine activity and transform a common space into an uncanny, beautiful experience, at once powerfully present and knowingly elusive.”

The work of Steve McQueen, who lives and works in Amsterdam and London, is represented in numerous museum collections, including the Tate Modern, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; as well as the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and De Pont in Tilburg in the Netherlands. He participated in Documentas X (1997) and XI (2002) and represented Great Britain in the 2009 Venice Biennial. His work has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions internationally and will be the subject of a survey exhibition in 2013 co-organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and the Schaulager, Basel.

McQueen's first full-length feature film, Hunger, premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, where it received the Caméra d'Or Award for first-time director. McQueen's acclaimed second feature film, Shame, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2011, where it won best actor for Michael Fassbender and the Critics Award for best film. It received its Dutch premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2012 and has been publicly released in the Netherlands on February 9, 2012.

Blues Before Sunrise is part of Temporary Stedelijk 3: Stedelijk @, a temporary program that is undertaken while the museum is closed for its most ambitious building project in more than a century.

Temporary Stedelijk 3 precedes the grand reopening of the Stedelijk Museum in the second half of 2012. The program features performances, film screenings, lectures, discussions, public interviews, music performances, book presentations, interactive happenings and other events throughout the city. Developed by the Stedelijk in close collaboration with a number of organizations in Amsterdam, these programs take place at other venues while the museum undergoes completion.


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