Steve McQueen: Blues Before Sunrise

By: Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Publication date: 7 Mar 2012

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Steve McQueen (1969), lives and works in Amsterdam and London and is known for his video art and as the director of the films Hunger (2008) and Shame (2012). His work is represented in numerous museum collections worldwide.

For the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam he did the project Blues Before Sunrise (2012) in the Vondelpark. McQueen replaced the conventional warm white light of all 275 streetlamps with a subdued blue tone light, transforming the nighttime experience of Amsterdam’s most well known urban “green space” and giving rise to a host of new associations. Like sound or music, light changes the atmosphere and alters one’s perception of a place.

Blues Before Sunrise takes its title from a 1934 Blues standard by American guitarist and singer Scrapper Blackwell. “The soul of the piece comes from the Blues,” says McQueen. “It haunts like no other music can.”

The Stedelijk Museum’s ‘Blikopeners’ Lou Mouw and Gaia Suyling Smit, together with filmmaker Jennifer Pettersson, went to the Vondelpark and recorded the very diverse reactions of visitors. Blikopeners are the Stedelijk Museum’s peer educators, young people between 15 and 19 years old from Amsterdam and its surroundings who advise the museum and organise activities and events.

A film by Gaia Suyling Smit & Lou Mouw (Blikopeners of Stedelijk Museum) & Jennifer Pettersson.

Music: Blues Before Sunrise by Scrapper Blackwell, performed by John Lee Hooker.