Sarah van Sonsbeeck creates a golden sea of safety blankets

A quiet reference to all refugees now at sea.  


Exhibiting in the oldest building of Amsterdam, which since its restoration has converged into a museum as well as a newly restored church, Dutch visual artist and former architect Sarah van Sonsbeeck is currently presenting her urgent and social-politically charged work. Set in a piece of cultural heritage, historically serving as a docking station for ceremonial ship launching, Van Sonsbeeck’s work plays in well with its surroundings—addressing themes of silence, appropriation of space, gold and privacy through her art.

Drawing inspiration from the church’s deep-rooted history, Van Sonsbeeck used her familiar golden Mylar emergency blankets to highlight how cultural heritage is not fixated in a single era but evolves within different contexts. The old church is therefore just as socially significant as it was in the past, but for different reasons. Placing the golden sheets on the cold stone floor, which cover the graves of seamen, symbolizes a form of protection. Sonsbeeck brings this into dialogue with the re-appearing images of refugees wrapped in similar blankets as they are rescued from their life-threatening journey across seas.

Step foot in the historical building and allow Van Sonsbeeck to direct you to the heart of the problem so you can ponder over the help you—and larger political bodies—can offer refugees during these dire times of need. You’re invited to experience the overwhelming and impressive, sun-reflecting installation until the 17th of September.



We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat

De Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, until 17 September


Photography: Gert Jan van Rooij

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