International art event from 30 May through 20 September 2015

KunstFort Asperen, Fort Nieuwersluis and Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen

What dangers lie ahead on my path?
How can I mislead my opponent?
How does my enemy think, and who precisely is the enemy?            

These questions are the starting point for the international art event 'Gimme Shelter - forts and fictions in the lowlands' opening on 30 May. For the first time in the water defence lines' two-hundred-year existence, three of the striking forts comprising the historic Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie (known in English as the New Dutch Water Defence Line) and the Stelling van Amsterdam (Defence Line of Amsterdam) will serve as the background for three thematically-related exhibits.

Showcasing the work of almost fifty artists, 'Gimme Shelter' will focus on the fictitious aspects of warfare and defence: on military fictions. Twelve artists have been commissioned to create new work, with three representations of the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) — the military fiction of our time — as the centrepiece. More than thirty artists, including Johan Grimonprez, Allora & Calzadilla, Trevor Paglen, Lida Abdul and Akram Zaatari, will show existing work, some of which has never before been shown in the Netherlands. These contemporary art films, sculptures, sound sculptures, photographs, installations and drawings will be complemented by rare, historical imagery from the archives of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid) in Hilversum and the Netherlands Institute for Military History (Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie) in The Hague and will be viewed against a fairy-tale backdrop that remains its own kind of 'fiction'. Though the water defence line forts, replete with endless waterways and inundation systems, were built at a staggering cost, they never fulfilled their function. For example, when the enemy arrived in 1940, the fortifications were already technically obsolete: the Germans simply flew over them in order to bombard Rotterdam.

Brief aan mijn vijand (Letter to my enemy), which will feature at KunstFort Asperen (located at Acquoy), focuses on the microcosm of a soldier's unit and the construction of an enemy. At Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen, the central theme of Strijdtoneel (Battleground) is the aspect of 'play' in combat, such as games, strategy and survival tactics. And at Fort Nieuwersluis, which also served as a nuclear bunker after World War II, Verborgen krachten (Hidden Forces) exposes notions of secrecy, concealment and shelter.

In addition to these exhibits, events such as prepping courses, SOS shops and other activities will be hosted throughout the water defence line. 'Gimme Shelter' will appeal to a broad public — inspiring consummate art fans, heritage site tourists, and the young and old alike. This ambitious event will be part of the celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie.

Lida Abdul (AF), Allora & Calzadilla (US/CU), Craig Ames (GB), Michael Blum (CA/DE), Dik Bouwhuis (NL), Jeremy Deller (GB), Douwe Dijkstra (NL), Omer Fast (IL), Zoro Feigl (NL), Nina Glockner (DE), Johan Grimonprez (BE), Stefan Gross (DE), Juan-Pedro Fabra Guemberena (UY), Hertog & Nadler (NL and IL), Jos Houweling (NL), Esther Jiskoot (NL), Marieke de Jong (NL), Jeroen Kooijmans (NL), Yan Michon (NL), Jasper Niens (NL), Trevor Paglen (US), Mykola Ridnyi (UA), André Robillard (FR), Fernando Sánchez Castillo (ES), Pieter Schenk (NL), Elisa van Schie (NL), Charlotte Schleiffert (NL), Claudia Sola (NL), Stout & Smits (NL), Matjaž Štuk & Alena Hudcovičová (SI and SK), Shinkichi Tajiri (NL), Jean-Luc Godard (FR), Danila Tkachenko (RU), Wouter Klein Velderman (NL), Dick Verdult (NL), Ralf Westerhof (NL), Akram Zaatari (LB), Pim Zwier (NL) and more.

Gimme Shelter – forts and fictions in the lowlands
Curators: Lucette ter Borg and Sacha Bronwasser
KunstFort Asperen (Langendijk 60, Acquoy ), Fort Nieuwersluis (Rijksstraatweg 7b, Nieuwersluis), Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen (Fortwachter 1, Vijfhuizen)