The Street. A Form of Living Together (originally shown at the Van Abbemuseum from 2 June 1972 to 24 September 1972) is now regarded as a legendary exhibition. Young curators in particular praised the way it was presented, its socially relevant theme and the form or model used – based on everyday experiences – to put the point across.
There was a long run-up to the exhibition with various interdisciplinary work groups honing the concept gradually over time. Initially the street was mainly going to be used for a series of artistic actions. Leering, however, preferred that the street itself, and not art, was chosen as the major theme. The Street. A Form of Living Together was finally curated by a core group, comprising urban planner Tjeerd Deelstra, curator Jaap Bremer and graphic designer Jan van Toorn, who consulted the expertise of numerous external specialists.
In The Street. A Form of Living Together ‘the user’ has a central role. It was hoped that by raising issues about the environment and the way it has been planned and designed, this would activate public awareness and participation in cultural and social processes. After all, the street was ‘from, for and by everyone’, an expression and manifestation of society itself.
The Street. A Form of Living Together is among the best attended exhibitions at the Van Abbemuseum. Notwithstanding, there was harsh criticism. Wasn’t the concept too academic and the information too specialist? Was the chosen form of conveying the information really effective so that ‘the user’ was indeed ‘activated’?
The question remains what the actual significance of The Street. A Form of Living Together might be if this were stripped of its mythical dimensions?