«The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival» (2009)


«The Bijlmer» is a neighborhood south-east of Amsterdam. Because it is the location for the set up of «The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival» – this neighborhood is both the place that hosts and the place for which «The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival» is destined. That is why «The Bijlmer» has given its’ name.



I am a fan of Spinoza. His book «Ethics» still remains sharp and necessary to fight philosophical obscurantism and idealism. To read Spinoza means: to accept to insist on receptivity and sensuality, without giving up the idea of a certain infinity. To get started in philosophy – Deleuze would say – read Spinoza’s «Ethics». I, myself, open this book very often. Spinoza presents a concept without transcendence and without immanence. It is the concept of the «Here and Now» as it was shown by Deleuze. It is the concept of Life, the concept of life of a subject without God. This subject is an active subject, a subject of delight and leisure. It is a responsible subject, joyful and affirmative. I like the fact that I do not understand everything when reading Spinoza, and I like the fact that there is always much more to understand when reading Spinoza.



«The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival» is an artwork, it is a sculpture. The title includes the name Festival so it can states clearly its character of event, its vocation of encounter, its time limitation, its transplantablity – first of all in the mind, but then physically – elsewhere, at some other time. I assert that a Festival is also a sculpture and that a Festival can be a sculpture.


Presence and Production

«The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival» follows the Presence and Production ‘guidelines’.

Which means: my presence (the artists’ presence) and my production (the artists’ production) first of all, because that’s the condition which makes participation become possible for the inhabitants of the Bijlmer neighborhood of Amsterdam. Therefore ‘participation’ is not the aim of this work, ‘participation’ can be the consequence of my presence and of my production. I am the one who must give something of myself first, in order to invite the Other (the inhabitant) to give something in turn.


The Other

The question of public, the question of public space, the question of the Other, the question of a ‘non-exclusive audience’ are – more than ever – set forth. «The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival» is the affirmation that Art must be a tool to create this public space. «The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival» addresses the Other. The form of this artwork will enable the Other to be included, the form does not want to exclude anyone, that is its will, its break-through, its destiny and its grace.


Coexistence and Co-operation

This project can only be done in Coexistence. Coexistence with the inhabitants of the Bijlmer neighborhood. Coexistence because it is their place, coexistence because it is with them, it is resolutely with and for the Bijlmer inhabitants. It is with and for the local inhabitants first – without exclusion of others.

But it is my work. It is me – the artist – who assumes fully the responsibility, who takes the responsibility for this work, for the entire work, in all of its aspects. The work must consequently be made in co-operation. «The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival» cannot be done without the help of the inhabitants. This work cannot be done without the help of the inhabitants because it is not me – the artist – who claims to be helping, who wants to ‘help’ or furthermore who ‘knows’ how to help – on the contrary – the inhabitants are the ones helping the work. The inhabitants are the ones who are helping «The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival» to be carried out to completion.



«The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival» is a project which is limited in time – for a duration of two months. Precariousness is the dynamics, the emergency, the necessity of this work. All instants are important for the duration of «The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival», all instants are a unique instant, all instants are equal in their capacity to reach out.

This is how «The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival» claims to be universal. This work is not ‘site-specific’ – this work wants to prove its universality as artwork in the Bijlmer neighbourhood and with its inhabitants. Precariousness is a means of asserting the importance of the moment and of the place, of asserting the Here and Now to touch eternity and universality.



«The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival» is conceived as a Beam of energy. A Beam – to both concentrate the energy and give multiple openings. Concentrate energy for Spinoza and create multiple energies to become public, to have an impact, to create the public. The expression of this Beam is a very large book («Ethics») built on the lawn between the Kruitberg and Kleiburg buildings, next to the training field of The Parels of the Bijlmer. This Beam – which is «The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival» – consist of 16 elements :

  1. Daily-Newspaper, 2. “The Bijlmer Documentation-Center”, 3. “Spinoza-Car”,
  2. Bar/Snack, 5. “Spinoza-Library”, 6.“Running Events”, 7.Internet-Café, 8.“Child’s Play”, 9. Webcam/Website, 10.“Spinoza-Exhibition”, 11. Lectures/Seminars/”Master classes”, 12. “Spinoza-Theater”, 13. Workshop, 14.“Ambassador”, 15. TV/Radio-Connection, 16.“Tank TV”-Connection.



«The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival» will be set up from April 2nd  to May 1st 2009.

It opens on May 2nd  2009 and lasts until June 28th  2009.

The dismantling of the work will take place from June 29th to July 4th 2009.


Thomas Hirschhorn, 2009