The Amsterdam Museum and What Makes Amsterdam Unique

On June 17, the Amsterdam Museum opened its newest exhibition: “De Mooiste Stad,” or “The Most Beautiful City.” The gallery on a passageway has been turned into an exhibition about the wonders of the Dutch capital city.

“We all have a huge problem: we live in the most beautiful and nicest city in the world,” said the late mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan. The Dutch politician, who passed away in 2017 to lung cancer, was mayor of the city from 2010 until his death. During the last period of his life, van der Laan had been working on an exhibition about the city he loved so dearly. A selection of more than 80 paintings, pictures and objects from the collection of the Amsterdam Museum and the city’s archives portraits how the inhabitants of the city have dealt with as fast population growth throughout the years. Through the exhibition, the late mayor hoped to initiate a conversation on the city’s future. The decoration of the “The Most Beautiful City,” mainly done out of scaffolding, symbolizes that Amsterdam is never completely finished.

Van der Laan’s exhibit shows that living in such a place can indeed be a problem; an increase in residents and tourists is leading to a housing market that is on the verge of collapsing and to streets that are too crowded for anyone’s good. But these aren’t just contemporary problems. In “The Most Beautiful City,” the much-loved mayor demonstrates that issues such as high immigration numbers and tourism have been around for centuries in our country’s capital. For instance, the exposition demonstrates the issues with bad living conditions through the centuries; whole families would live in a damp basement because there was no affordable housing available. In addition, many problems are presented to the audience such as the social housing system intervention, making decent housing possible for even the poorest of the city’s inhabitants. As an eulogy of the city, its progressiveness is represented by remembering the first December 21, 2001, when a law to allow same-sex marriage was signed in the Netherlands for the first time in history. As a result, the exhibition pays homage to administrators of the city who had a great influence on its developments, including Monne de Miranda, Jan Schaefer and Floor Wibaut.

Many locals joined the exhibit. Among them, 63-year-old visitor Marion van der Kleij, who was born and raised in Amsterdam, admits the has suffered from a large crowd over the years. “Here, you can see that all these developments and expansions actually pay off,” she comforts herself. “It changes your perspective, to be more positive.” Like van der Kleij, her friend and fellow citizen of Amsterdam, Paulien van Gijn, 59, believes the exhibition taught her that people have been complaining about problems in the city for centuries. “Even years ago, people would write angry letters about fences that were in their way or expansion of the city,” van Gijn said. The two women admit being fans of former mayor Eberhard van der Laan. Van der Kleij. “The exhibition was quite moving,” van der Kleij adds, “I kept tearing up. I suppose it was a combination of the exhibition and the late mayor.”

The exposition is open to the public from 10am and 5pm every day until November 4. The display is the result of a partnership with the festival “We Make the City” that takes place from June 20 to June 24 across Amsterdam.

Avenue reporter at the Amsterdammer.

21-year-old Dutch girl with a passion for journalism, traveling and getting people to make her food. I’m also a Communication Science student at the University of Amsterdam and a lindy hop dancer -but I’m not that good at it quite yet.

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The Game Continues: Searching for Space Invaders in Amsterdam

Since 1998, the French urban artist, Invader, started his mission of liberating art from the boundaries that museums and institutions set. The artist brings one of the most beloved games from the 80’s back to life and intends to transcend the game screen and release Space Invaders into the real world. His series of ceramic tiles have already “invaded” over 30 countries, with over 3,600 pieces spread in more than 70 cities, in which Amsterdam figures as one of the “victims.”

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Invader operates alone and has also inspired others to start similar projects, Space Invaders turning into an artistic movement. Raluca Dumitrache/ Staff Photographer

On his website, Invader explains his artistic process and how the game works. He focuses on populated urban areas and decorates each city with 20 to 50 tiles, distributed in one or more “invasion waves”, depending on how many times the artist visits the city.

Invader invading

Invader believes that the pixel characters are in strong correlation with the today’s world which is surrounded by technological developments. Thus, their names hold both a metaphoric and literal meaning, since they are actually invading spaces.

Invader works incognito, largely at night and masked, as urban art street is considered illegal. In search for artistic decontextualization, Invader hopes to “not only leave a print on the streets but also on the minds” (Invader-About, 2018).

Make it work

Invader gives each piece a score between 10 and 100, every city having their own score that can be seen on the Space Invaders map. Amsterdam has had one invasion wave in the summer of 1999, with 26 invaders and a score of 370 points. The FlashInvaders app can help you calculate your score and compare it with others internationally.

 

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FlashInvader App shows you the name and points for each piece. For example, piece 18 can be found on the intersection of Prinsengracht with Spiegelgracht. Raluca Dumitrache/ Staff Photographer

 

Visit their website for more: www.space-invaders.com/world/

Photographer at The Amsterdammer

“Vincent on Friday:” Partying at the Van Gogh Museum

Every last Friday of the month, the Van Gogh Museum museum hosts “Vincent on Friday” in the evening, a relaxed party with cross-cultural programs. In collaboration with young creative artists, last Friday the museum received about 1200 people to discover the Japanese culture through paintings, workshops, and music.

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About 1200 people attend the “Van Gogh on Friday” event organized by the Van Gogh Museum on Friday evening. Christa Koeyvoets / Staff

During the party, visitors not only got to enjoy van Gogh’s art, but they were served several kinds of food as well as alcoholic beverages, including elaborate cocktails. While visitors enjoyed the masterpieces, a performance by the one-man-band Only In Japan, or OIJ, and DJ Camtrao resonated in the event, creating a party atmosphere. On the last “Vincent on Friday” of this season, the event was more special than the usual. Indeed, the museum recently opened the “Van Gogh & Japan” exposition which exhibits the painter’s finest work, inspired by Japanese woodcut prints and other artworks of the country. Consequently, the event enjoyed some Japanese touches. Visitors had the opportunity to design their own kimono in the museum’s art studio or to take a break from partying to watch “Tokyayo,” a Viceland documentary. Starring Pepijn Lanen, known as Faberyayo in theDutch rap group De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig, and his friend Steven van Lummel, the documentary focuses on the Japanese capital Tokyo, in which the two friends discover the country from a new perspective.

Visitors of the event were pleased to see the recently-opened exposition. Fleur Rubingh, who attended the event, thought the exposition was “really cool.” The 28-year-old was accompanied by her friend Soleil Jongert. “I didn’t know that Van Gogh was influenced by Japanese art at all,” Rubingh said. “I was very interested to see this at the museum.”  Both were excited to be at the Van Gogh Museum, stating that “they hadn’t been there in at least 10 years.” Among the visitors were several international guests like 55-year-old Donna Venti from Saint Louis, Missouri in the United States. “I love [the museum], it’s gorgeous!” Venti said. “I can’t believe they have so much works by Van Gogh in one place. We came to the museum precisely for this special event, and we’re going to see the exposition right now.”

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Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890), Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, February 1890. Available at the Van Gogh & Japan exhibit at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The museum has over 200 paintings done by the Dutch painter and his artist colleagues, as well as about 500 drawings and 700 letters addressed to him, or written by him. Even though the exposition on Japan contains about 60 artworks by van Gogh himself, “Van Gogh & Japan,” does not only focus on him. The exhibit shows the work of young artists that were inspired by Japanese art. During a Q&A and performance, 4 artists presented their Japan-inspired works. One of them was Daphne Bleeker, a designer focusing on fashion with a Japanese touch. As of Jongert, the 24-year-old had the chance to model her designs, which she thinks are “very beautiful.” Next to the place where the Q&A was hosted, Joost Stokhof presented a visual travel log on his trip to Japan, showing animations on everyday subjects as well as Japanese nature.

The exposition ‘Van Gogh & Japan’ can be visited until June 24. The next Vincent on Friday event will take place after the summer holidays on September 28.

Avenue reporter at the Amsterdammer.

21-year-old Dutch girl with a passion for journalism, traveling and getting people to make her food. I’m also a Communication Science student at the University of Amsterdam and a lindy hop dancer -but I’m not that good at it quite yet.

Documenting Palestinian Diaspora: 48 Stories that Need to Be Told

Over 80 people participated last Friday at the NOOR & Paradox project collaboration: 48 stories. The event marked the launch of 48 stories, a web app which documents the life stories of the Palestinian diaspora. The concept and name of the project refer to the year 1948, remembered in history as either the War of Independence, the War of Liberation, The Catastrophe or as the creation of Israeli state and the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians.

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The guests at NOOR & Paradox: 48 stories project engage the audience in a Q & A discussion after their presentation on Palestine diaspora. Raluca Dumitrache/ Staff Photographer

Photographers, filmmakers, academic scholars gathered to illustrate the stories of Palestinians who have found other places to live across the world, with the hope of returning back home one day. The first guest, Dr. Ihab Saloul, an associate professor of heritage and memory studies at UvA, explained why 48 stories should play an important part not only for the Palestinians, but for other nations as well.  “I think this is an important project and the moment I was approached by Bas to talk about this I immediately said ‘yes’ because I think the relationship between Palestinian catastrophe, memory, and mapping is very important and this app certainly plays an important role in spreading or keeping the memory alive in terms of digitization and the whole relationship to heritage,” Saloul said.

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Dr. Ihab Saloul, Associate professor of Heritage and Memory Studies at UvA, raised a very important question as well during his presentation: “We have a Palestinian national museum, like our Rijskmuseum without a nation-state. How can you function in that kind of circulation?” Raluca Dumitrache/ Staff Photographer

Kadir van Lohuizen, 55, a photographer at NOOR Images, started his professional career as a photojournalist in Palestine in December 1987, during the first Intifada. The Dutch photographer explained how being a child of parents who had lived the second World War and growing up himself in the time of the creation of the state of Israel after the Holocaust encouraged him to cover the follow-up of the events.  “I really felt the need to tell a story about Palestinians,” van Lohuizen said. Despite spending a lot of time in Palestine, the photographer had other projects going on. While working on contemporary migration in the Americas, an unusual encounter in Honduras told him “You should do a story about the Palestinians,” he recalls. “I was a little bit puzzled,” van Lohuizen admits. “And […] it is actually one of the biggest Palestinian communities in the western hemisphere.” About 6 million Palestinian are believed to have fled the country. Among them, 250,000 live in Honduras, the 9th destination of the Palestinian diaspora.

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Ezz al Zanoon, 26, independent photojournalist and filmmaker talks with regret about the situation in his home city, Ghaza. “The situation in Gaza […] when I say that there (isn’t) a life for people, I really mean it, so there is not a future for young people”, al Zanoon claimed. Raluca Dumitrache/ Staff Photographer

For Debby Farber, 40, a curator at Zochrot, “this week was extremely harsh, to say the least, and I’m gentle in what is happening in Israel and in Palestine, where so many people have been killed by the idea of armed protestors in these dark days such a project is a sign of hope, to help us keep going.” Last week, dozens of Palestinians were killed and thousands were injured during a demonstration in Gaza, which makes it the deadliest since 2014. After 70 years of conflict between Palestine and Israel, van Lohuizen believes the bloody confrontation has stories that need to be told. “Our goal is to collect as many stories as possible,” she said. “[W]hat we’ve witnessed the last couple of weeks […] makes it more necessary than ever because we are talking about people.”

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Debby Farber, 40, curator at Zochrot talks about the NGO and its goals. “Zochrot means remembering, but it’s also the female form of the word remembering and this was chosen because we believe that the ways Israelis remember the 1948 war is fundamentally militaristic and humanistic nature, focusing primarily on battles, operations, conquests and reinforced heroism”. Raluca Dumitrache/ Staff Photographer

Photographer at The Amsterdammer

An Interview with David Wienir, Author of Amsterdam Exposed, a Journey Around the Red Light District

David Wienir, a writer and entertainment lawyer, presented his book, Amsterdam Exposed, yesterday (18th of May) in the Dutch capital. Amsterdam Exposed narrates the story about a 26-year-old American exchange student in Amsterdam in 1999. As Wienir describes it, this is a nonjudgmental book that shows an innocent perspective about Amsterdam and the Red Light District, but also a really personal story.

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Staff Photographer / Yunfu Duan

Despite telling a story that happened almost 20 years ago, the book addresses a subject that will always be relevant: prostitution. The author says that the timing of publication was perfect, especially taking the sex work regulations that are currently happening in both Holland and in America  into account.

The Amsterdammer interviewed Wienir to get more insights on the book, the author, and the Red Light District.

You came here 20 years ago, how does it feel to return to promote your book?

It’s been very surprising and beautiful reception we’ve had here, it’s been great. I didn’t think, at first, that I would have any local reception walking around the district and letting them know [the sex workers] about the book. A couple of days ago I just decided to do that and the response was very surprising. The girls [of the Red Light District] are very excited [about the story]. I basically asked them if they speak English and if they like reading and then I said: Hey! I have something for you, I’d love you to read this book that just came out this week. It’s about a story in Amsterdam between an American and a girl who worked right here. […] One of the girls started crying and that was something I wasn’t expecting. It’s exciting for me that this book is not only going to be something that Americans read, but also people are going to have a conversation here in Holland too.

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Staff Photographer / Yunfu Duan

Why publish this book now, 20 years after your exchange?

It’s a delicate subject to write about. It’s not a politically correct world, it’s a taboo, it’s a subject that makes people uncomfortable in the community that I’m in [United States], I’m a business affairs executive on a major talent agency. It was a promise I made to a girl that I was not going to let this go. It was a story I felt needed to be told but I wasn’t gonna publish it until I was able to find my voice, and I think a big part of it, was getting married […] that opened up a whole new side of me of being able to really put myself into the book in the way that I needed to.

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Staff Photographer / Yunfu Duan

What brought you to Amsterdam for an exchange?

I did my undergraduate in Oxford and my master’s degree in the London School of Economics and I studied in Estonia and lived in France, so I started off thinking that Europe was always gonna be part of my existence. When I went to law school […] the idea was to go to California, go to Berkeley, go get a degree in law and then become an international lawyer. One of the main things that brought me back to Holland, and made sense as a young international lawyer, [was that] this is the center of international law. […] There was a great exchange program in the VU Amsterdam, so [that was] what brought me back to Amsterdam.

But really, it was to write this book. At that time I had already seen myself as a writer […] so when I came to Amsterdam I identified myself more as a writer than I identified myself even as a lawyer and it was with that focus that I kind of designed my four months here.

How did you perceive Amsterdam before you came here?

It was interesting, the first time I ever came here it was in 1993 and that was when I was an undergraduate in England. I just found my journal from that trip and it was unbelievable, I hadn’t tried cannabis at the time, I walked through the district really fast, I was terrified by what I saw, I couldn’t believe the way the men were treating the women in the windows, as shocking as it was to see the women standing there. It was really not a place I thought I’d return to. I automatically felt at home here and I think there are two kinds of people in the world: People who come to Amsterdam and feel connected with the city or don’t. I’m definitely one of those people that the second I came, it just felt different than being in London, Paris or any other place where I might have lived.

What intrigued you about the Red Light District? Why write about it?

I was kind of in shock as a young writer that no one had ever done something like this. It’s one of the biggest attractions in the world. Americans come and they have their experiences and then even talking about it was kind of taboo. That was one of the things that really make me recognize there’s a journey here that people should be able to do, a nonjudgmental one, that hopefully helps to shape the conversation.

The book’s really a love letter to Amsterdam. It’s focused on a very special friendship that I developed with one of the beautiful girls who works right in the heart of the district. It’s as much of a love letter to Amsterdam, as it is to an American or anyone abroad. Being in a new culture and being free. Seeing yourself differently. In the book, there’s a transformation with the woman who helped me write it, but there’s a transformation for me too.

How did you attempt to avoid the harmful stereotypes of sex workers? And how did you try to simultaneously give an accurate representation of how Amsterdam citizens still perceive them?

I think for me it was a bit of a transformation. At first, in the book, like anyone who walks through the district, people are seemingly two-dimensional. Everyone is, and I think that’s what makes the world dangerous. There’s a line in the book where I talk about the parallels between the prostitution in Holland and internet dating in America and just how disposable people have become. There are this two-dimensional pictures and that’s that. […] I think one of the ways that I hope this book really helps get beyond this stereotypes is just by sharing an innocent relationship in a place that one wouldn’t find one. Redefining how we see ourselves. There are not only stereotypes that we put on women, but stereotypes that we place in ourselves too. There’s a great line in the book that says “Life perspective is all based on the cages that we’re all held captive in”.

The book was just trying, at the end of the day, to show the humanity there and […] allow people […] to see the women differently. At the very least have some respect and as a society, there’s nothing we can do to stop women from working there, but there’s a lot we can do as a society not to condemn them.

 

Avenue Reporter