The documentary exhibition People’s Park (originally shown at the Van Abbemuseum from 18 December 1970 to 18 January 1971) traces the emergence and decline of a public park on the campus of the University of California (Berkley, USA).
In 1969 students and local residents took over unused land belonging to the university. With combined effort, they laid out a people’s park. However, the university quickly made known its right of ownership and on 14 May the police were called in. The next day, 15 May 1969, has gone down in history as Bloody Thursday. In order to put a definite stop to protestations the governor of California Ronald Reagan enlisted the National Guard, with many wounded, one fatally, as a result. Reagan’s decision was partly influenced by political unrest in Berkeley, which was seen as a hotbed of left-wing ideology and anti-Vietnam protest.
People’s Park was shown at several venues in the Netherlands. While it was not put together by Jean Leering - the exhibition was taken over from the American Phoenix Gallery - the display was in keeping with the director’s views that a museum should propagate social engagement. In choosing People’s Park an openly public stand was being taken: against the established political power and for the self-reliance of a critically aware and liberated population.
For these reasons People’s Park in 1972 has been incorporated with The Street. A Form of Living Together under the general heading “Taking Over the Street”.