We recognize people by their silhouette, cities by their skyline. The exhibition ‘SkYline. Highrise in the Low Countries’ challenges our often all too cursory glance at a city. It asks what lies behind the whimsical pattern of stone, steel and glass. And why we are always seeking to build high, higher, highest.
Whereas church and bell-towers used to dominate the skyline, today it is more likely to be apartment and office blocks. The Burj Khalifa is the highest structure, the Bell-Tower the fieriest, the Book Tower the wisest.
But a skyline is more than a sum total of buildings and towers. It is a wide-screen image which in part dictates our idea of a city. And when a city moulds its skyline into a self-portrait, it tells us what sort of city it wants to be. For that portrait is never neutral. What is shown and what is not? From which angle? And what is the message behind it?
Highrise is functional and architectural, but fascination and symbolism also play a role. Highrise reaches for the sky and is a demonstration of power. ‘SkYline. Highrise in the Low Countries’ takes visitors on a journey through the history of Europe’s high-rise buildings with a special focus on Ghent and Rotterdam. A historical skyline next to a modern one. Medieval Manhattan next to Manhattan-on-the-Meuse. Not to be missed by those who help build the cities, design, inhabit, love and question them.
In association with Museum Rotterdam