I don’t know
‘I don’t know’ is written upon the Nescio pedestal. Nescio is the pseudonym of the Dutch writer Jan Hendrik Frederik Grönloh (1882-1961). ‘Nescio’ signifies ‘I don’t know’ in Latin. In literature, the term ‘nomen nescio’ is used if the author of a cited work is not known.
The artwork ‘I don’t know’ ‘triggers’ the pseudonym ‘Nescio’. In the context of the artwork, the ‘camouflaged’ mention of the name may also be subject to several interpretations – just as it often is for diverse other texts appearing on the artwork pedestals of ‘You Are Here’.
Those not knowing the name of the writer merely read ‘I don’t know’, just as there are probably many who know the writer’s name Nescio but do not know what ‘nescio’ means in Latin.
A special aspect influencing the choice to involve ‘I don’t know’ in this public artwork, is that it is a frivolous, ‘light-footed’ and ‘disarming’ admission in urban public space, where one more expects to read ‘cold’, ‘clear-cut’ information.
Although in contrast to the information and purpose on traffic signs for example, an artwork is always, essentially ambiguous, cryptic and ambivalent – if it is fulfilling its function correctly. For Art should rather raise questions than provide (unequivocal) answers.
Moreover, this statement affords ‘breathing space’ when we view the text within its relationship to the understandably ‘heavy’ and generally ‘charged’ subject matter of an artwork honouring the ‘legacy of the twentieth century’.
Artwork: You Are Here
Artist: Martijn Sandberg
Measurements: (lxwxh) 80cm x 80cm x 40cm
Project: Legacy of the Twentieth Century
Realisation and completion: 2019
Location: Oranje Vrijstaatkade, Oostpoort, Amsterdam
Commissioned by: Amsterdam Municipality, District Oost