GEMENE GROND/COMMON GROUND is an extensive programme of art in public space that will evolve over a period of ten years in the west of Utrecht. New neighbourhoods, parks, city squares and connections for movement are arising in the Beurskwartier, on Lombokplein and in the Merwede Canal Zone. Utrecht is preparing for the future, something that is evident in the changes taking place in this this centrally located region of the city.
Like other cities today, Utrecht is undergoing enormous change. The Gemene Grond art programme investigates how art in public space can contribute to new forms of shared space and urban living in the city of Utrecht. Starting out from today’s important themes of sociaal, ecological, spatial and technological concern, Gemene Grond is first and foremost about the places where we meet and discover one another.
In both form and content, the objective of Gemene Grond is to make what is important to our society visible and tangible, or in other words, that the art and the city in which it is exists belong to all of us. This begins by asking such questions as, What do we understand shared space to be?, For whom is there space, and for whom is there not, or not enough space? Where and how do we come together, meet one another? These are topical, even urgent questions all around the world. The answers depend on local circumstances, but they all contribute to the international discussion about how we want to live together.
With the idea of shared responsibility for our shared environment as or starting point, we investigate what these changes entail — together. What can we do together to shape our city? Who is there space for? Who does the city belong to? Gemene grond is the historic Dutch term for commons, or common ground, an expression still used in English today. In Dutch, it was the predecessor of the word gemeente, for municipality. What is so special about art in public space is that it is there for everyone, touches everyone, so we seek ways for art to contribute to a gemeente that is truly gemeen, a municipality that is truly shared: Common Ground for us all.
The Gemene Grond art programme is, in fact, a working space. It offers space and time for the people of Utrecht to imagine different perspectives and stories, and to exchange ideas. It is an open place and platform that invites artists and other makers to work on new art projects in public space.