The Garden Which is the Nearest to God

On the 27th of June a beautiful new art project opened in the heart of Amsterdam. ‘The Garden Which is the Nearest to God’ is the first creation in the Netherlands by the renowned Japanese artist Taturo Atzu, who was invited to create a structure for the historic weather vane and the small roof turret of the Oude Kerk, located in the red light district of the capital. Atzu’s project links the monumental 13th century church – the oldest building in the city – to its recent incarnation as Amsterdam’s newest cultural institution. He gives the weather vane an update by re-imagining it in a fully furnished, modern living room. Interpreting contemporary Dutch interiors, the décor features a table, chairs, and above the sofa a classical print from the church collection. The Japanese artist brings the spectator closer to the experience of wonderment as we make our metaphoric journey on high – climbing the 156 steps to the 300 m² open space above – to a fictional living room and the built-in seating area around the clock tower. Make sure to visit the Oude Kerk and enjoy the extraordinary project before it is gone.

Atzu wandered the neighbourhood drawing inspiration from how Amsterdammers decorate their front windows and gardens. The Garden Which is the Nearest to God offers a unique perspective on a historical monument, its new context creating a surreal experience of cultural heritage.

The Oude Kerk is located in the heart of the red light district. Visited annually by 12 million tourists, this area is one of Amsterdam’s main attractions. Looking to shake off its sex and drugs reputation, the city council has been working since 2007 to diversify the area by introducing boutiques, creative businesses and fine restaurants.

Coinciding with Taturo Atzu’s: ‘The Garden Which is the Nearest to God’, the Foundation Oude Kerk is carrying out restoration work on the slate roof tiles, lead elements and painting the roof turret and wooden dormers. The conservation of the Oude Kerk monument is supervised by the Amsterdam City Department of Monuments and Archaeology and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.

Photography by Wim Hanenberg.

Taturo Atzu’s: ‘The Garden Which is the Nearest to God’ is open for visitation until the 6th of September 2015.

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