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Issue #019 articles
Issue #019 Published: 28-08-2018 // Written by: Tater Slayer
Advertising Shits in your Head
As city-dwellers, we see approximately 5000 adverts each day, compared with 2000 thirty years ago, according to a study by Yankelovich. Cities globally have begun to tackle ceaseless invasion of conscious and unconscious thought by introducing outdoor advertising bans which replace billboards and bus-stop adverts with artwork, community noticeboards, clocks, or blank spaces. The most recent example of this is in Grenoble where 326 billboards have been replaced with community noticeboards and trees. This seems like a logical way to decrease exposure to adverts and to reclaim public space, but arguably it is counterproductive, stimulating marketers to find other platforms for advertising which can be more invasive as they employ more discrete ways of accessing private space. Think of cookies in your phone browser, adverts in your apps, unwanted spam mail in your inbox each morning, or the chance to win something plastered across your juice carton: although advertising bans present small utopias of unclogged thought and cities where consumers can begin to escape ideology of constant consumption, they force marketers to penetrate the consumer’s private space, governing consumption from within. All adverts promulgate ideology of mass consumption, telling us to strive towards an ideal subjectivity which not only is unachievable but which also requires constant consumption of products. With an input of 5000 adverts daily, only one side of the argument is visible to the consumer: there is silence surrounding the counter-argument that we do not need to consume more. With the counter-argument to the dominant hegemonic belief silenced by persistent advertisement, this regime is rarely questioned, creating an obsessively commercial society. In a climate in which advertisers constantly devise new ways of reaching and expanding clientele such that consumers are almost unaware and neutralised to the invasion of their mind, it is essential to provide counter-ideologies which allow consumers to reflect on messages they receive. Without this counterargument, consumers live in a one-party regime with no alternative to the ultimate goal of economic growth. Perpetual economic growth is not only unsustainable in that consumption requires exploitation of Earth’s finite resources, but it is propounded to benefit all in capitalist society when it unequivocally privileges the wealthy above the rest. If it were not for this normalisation of omnipresent advertisement, it may be possible to open a conversation surrounding doctrine of constant consumption. Ad-hackers and brandalists target this doctrine on a global scale, presenting the public with a counter-argument, the anti-consumerist message, by switching adverts in bus stops and billboards for artwork. Brandalists aim to reveal truth behind specific brands such as Nike, Shell, or so-called ‘free-range’ eggs; ad-hackers are more ideological, often conveying environmental or anti-consumerist messages. The annual Subvert the City festival organised by Subvertisers International, this year 23d-25th March, encourages small groups worldwide to ‘subvert’ their city and makes these projects seem accessible and achievable. The organisation provides groups with encouragement, inspiration, ideas, instructions, and a general help service to mobilise activists and to try to subvert as many cities as possible. Afterwards, the Subvertisers website is flooded with photos of this global grassroots movement, collectively imagining “a world beyond consumer-capitalism”. Six friends and I were inspired by Subvert the City. Motivated by examples of ad-hacks and brandalism on the site and by messages we had seen previously, we began to group and to plan ad-hacks in Amsterdam, a city almost excluded from this bubbling online community who share and discuss the frequent ad-hacks in other cities such as Bristol, Paris, and Hamburg.  On the first night that we set out to change the bus stop JCDecaux posters, we were struggling to fit our poster into the tram stop at Muiderpoort - it was much harder than anticipated - when a friendly driver terminated at the stop. Curious about our ‘art project’, he pondered the question posed by the poster, “wat wil ik nog meer?” (what more do I want?), and told us that some more money was what he wanted, mainly to raise his kids and to have a better house. For me, this almost automatic response reflected how deeply our economic-growth-orientated ideology has affected society, taking precedence over all other ideologies, despite most people never benefitting from this trickle-down economy. After chatting to us and wondering what he would do with the money, he concluded: “maar geld maak me niet gelukkig” (but money won’t make me happy). Although we eventually left that bus stop empty after a much stricter driver arrived and questioned us, the encounter was motivating. We realised that this simple question has potential to unveil the counter-argument to consumerism, holding power to provoke thought as people traverse the city, commuting on their financially-motivated quest through life. As our messages enter the public realm, we hope that they may stimulate thought and stir the public from neutralised invasion of their mind. ================================== Ad-hacking is an achievable and accessible form of protest, but mobilisation in Amsterdam is either hidden or limited. Like other cities around the world, we should have a vibrant and active ad-hacking scene which constantly challenges the city’s over-normalised hegemony. As an action, it is not complicated:  • You need keys for the bus stops which can either be 3D-printed, or you can contact other ad-hackers online who may point you towards somebody who can post you a key. • You need abris-size paper for the bus stops, or money to print abris-size posters if you are making art digitally.  • You must practise in a quiet area where you cannot be caught so that when you go into busy streets, you are efficient and professional. • It is is perhaps less risky to ad-hack during the day (possibly in the morning when it is less busy) wearing hi-vis vests to look professional, despite this seeming more obvious. • We worked best with two or three people to change posters and found it useful to have two extra people in plain-clothes watching for police, so that those changing posters were undistracted.  • When you remove your first advert, you will notice that its top is folded over by half a centimetre. It will make your ad-hack easier if you fold your posters like this before you begin. • Take scissors or a penknife with you as the adverts may be tied in with plastic. Activists of Amsterdam, come out, subvert the city, and stay safe. Let’s pull down the Chanel adverts that hyper-sexualise women’s bodies; let’s remove the KFC adverts that mask the horrors of battery-farmed chicken; let’s rip up adverts for the latest Apple iPhone, stained by blood but claiming to provide optimum enjoyment of life: let’s divert our city from its unachievable ultimate goal of economic growth and challenge hegemony that is constantly imposed upon us.
Issue #019 Published: 27-08-2018 // Written by: Xuda Käru
Going Under
After the Wet, rafts began to appear on the canals and waterways. Some of them had been around for decades, part of a transient community that could trace itself far back, well before the Floods. The River Rats had built and rebuilt their watercraft over generations from salvaged and scavenged material. They are a floating bricolage and history lesson, with remnants of previous craft repurposed into present designs. Periodically, when people decide to settle down, drift away or when friendships collapse the faltering scene is re-discovered by another generation and revived. Of course, there were those who were in it for life. I suppose that’s what became of me. During the Wet some made other arrangements, shuffling between a network of Wagons and Haus Projekts, while others followed the Sun. Bookending the Rafting Season were notorious parties. Dozens of rafts would meander down river at dusk, collecting friends who arrived at pickup points along its banks, heading away from the die Vorstadt and deeper into der Wald. Coming together over the long summer dusks, we would rope our crafts together to form an ad hoc island. I preferred to arrive early. To set up, get comfortable and make small talk with the Elders. When it finally became dark and the atmosphere began to thicken, I would slip into my cabina and prepare to transform. Passing a plastic comb through a nylon wig is a ritual that has continued over generations. As a child I never grew out of dressing up and as I matured my preoccupations led me to Drag. Sure, these days children are taught that biology is mutable, but even before the Gene Traders arrived—making it as easy to switch genders as you could a pair of trousers—there were many tools and tricks available to those of us curious to experiment with our bodies. The Biological Arts. Nights which began full of promise, often ended in trouble. We were a close-knit community, but we were far from Polite Society. You had to speak up and ask for what you wanted, this was no place for the meek. There were plenty of egos, rivalries and envy. Old wood, rope, fire and intoxicants. It’s a volatile mix. People would get high and start pouring gasoline on top of spirits rather than water. The irony was that we were floating on that stuff, but if you swallowed more than a mouthful of The River you’d surely be sick.  Things happened almost too quickly to follow. Breathe deeply, keep breathing deeply.  Use both hands to hold my arm.  I have no control. Shouts, splashes and motors spluttering into gear broke my concentration. The police? They would often make an appearance. More of a show than a threat—to let us know was in charge—all part of the night’s entertainment. Besides, we were too far away from the City to harm anyone but ourselves. When I clocked that the smoke seeping into my cabina was not from the fog machine, I scrambled out onto a floating platform. Breathing through a scarf, I squinted through the haze, lights and silhouettes. Flames leapt across the assemblage of wood, fibre glass and steel. River Rats scurried into small dinghies and paddle-craft, breaking away. Others panicked and jumped into the toxic water. A sudden burst of sound-light-heat and on an impulse I too found myself in the drink. Suddenly sober, and trying to keeping my head from going under, I lunged towards a paddleboat as the island dispersed around me. Then everything went blank. She heard talking, listened for human  voices, and could not distinguish any. Parts of her body went numb. She could hear her own breathing. A sharp acrid smell brought me to my senses. Blinking I glimpsed flames, dancing alight on the oily slicks skimming the waters’ surface; the River a toxic flambé. I felt a pinch of something attached to the soft flesh of my stomach. Not painful, but firm. Quickly coming to, it occurred to me that despite having passed out I had not sunk. Rather, I was being held afloat. But I was not wearing a life jacket, nor had I hooked onto a life buoy or caught onto a piece of floating flotsam. Your body can help me. Keep  breathing deeply. A long time ago the River would have been the lifeblood of the settlements along its banks. All kinds of creatures would have relied on it for their survival. Inhabitants would hunt for fish and mollusks and eventually channel its water to irrigate crops. While you can still travel along the waterways, the River is obviously not what it used to be. With industry came obstructions, infrastructure, pollutants and chemicals. Of course, over the years there have been considerable efforts to treat and restore its waters. I’ve heard that sections of the River that pass through the City’s historic centre are now purer than ever and citizens swim there during the Heat. But in the outskirts of the Stadt it’s a different matter. Downriver might not run clear, but neither is it a Deadzone. Rather, in this eutrophic soup lifeforms evolve and new species emerge. Cautiously, I reached down towards my stomach to touch a cold, slippery body, about the length of my forearm. It twisted away from my fingertips but nevertheless stuck fast to my side. Whatever it was didn’t seem to fear me and oddly I also felt at ease. I’d no urge to pull it off. Strange. I wasn’t at all cold. How long had I been out here? I scanned the waters for my comrades and spotted a single raft as it disappeared around a bend. Now fully alert, I realized that I was not moving with the current, but rather against it, propelled by a steady and invisible force.  
Issue #019 Published: 26-08-2018 // Written by: Klaar vd Lippe
Book review: Richard Sennett: Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City, feb 2018
In een boek over de stad verwacht je te lezen over bouwen en masterplannen. Over hypotheken en inkomens. Gewend als we zijn aan lofzangen op de metropool en internationale successtad.  Sennett ziet het anders. Juist door die focus op bouwen en direct succes worden steden meer en meer gesloten. Complexiteit wordt uitgebannen ten faveure van een markt of plan gedreven structuur. In de gesloten stad moeten mensen zich voegen naar het plan. De stad is voor Sennett behalve een plaats, ook een mentaliteit. Stedeling zijn vereist dat je kunt omgaan met verschil. In cultuur, in mentaliteit, in klasse. In zijn vertoog wandel je over drukke pleinen met ontheemden en nieuwkomers. Elegant en erudiet neemt hij je mee langs zijn eigen mislukte projecten, geslaagde migranten samenlevingen en gidst je door de geschiedenis van steden en denken over stedelijkheid. Om uiteindelijk uit te komen bij een pleidooi voor een open en menselijke stad. Een open stad die ruimte geeft om een stedelijke mentaliteit te laten gedijen.   Als tegenhanger van grote gebaren van grote mannen onderzoekt Sennett de praktijk van gedrag in de stad. Hij richt zich op de kunst van het samenleven als mogelijk vormgevend principe. Hij draait daarom het ontwerp proces om en onderzoekt welke gewoontes en technieken de mens hanteert om zich thuis te leren voelen. Zou je die strategieën  kunnen gebruiken om steden te maken die daarom meer open zijn, meer geschikt om het stedelijke te faciliteren?  De stad staat voor hem ten dienste van de mens en haar diepe verlangen een plaats te vinden. Klinkt hier: locatie, locatie locatie, bij Sennett is het: plaats, plaats, plaats. Opvallend is de rol van de publieke ruimte als plek voor menselijk handelen. Lopen, kijken, verkopen zitten, spreken. Het stedelijke ontstaat en kristalliseert daar waar verschillen ontmoeten. Het boek is een eerbetoon aan de anonieme stadmaker die zijn habitat met bescheiden middelen vormgeeft. Volhardend en inventief. Een eerbetoon ook aan de dappere ontheemde die denkkracht inzet om opnieuw thuis te komen. Zonder nostalgie durft te leven.  Hij gebruikt zijn persoonlijke ervaringen als maker, als mens en als waarnemer. Zelfs zijn revalidatie na een beroerte, voorzichtig wandelend over de Kantstrasse in Berlijn, is een actief proces van waarnemen, verbinden en begrijpen.  Transformaties Sennett laat zien hoe de grote wereldsteden veranderden door ingrepen van ingenieurs en architecten. De begintijd van deze discipline leidt tot fascinerende transformaties. Londen wordt door een nieuwe techniek, het ondergronds riool, die zorgt dat  besmettelijke ziektes afnemen een veel gezondere omgeving. In Parijs breekt architect Hausmann grote delen van de oude stad af om plaats te maken voor boulevards om ruimte te geven aan transport. Nodig omdat bij de recente opstanden de nauwe straten gemakkelijk met gewoon huisraad gebarricadeerd konden worden. Over de nieuwe Allees kunnen de kanonnen snel van plek naar plek gebracht worden. De burgerij vindt de nieuwe ruimte prachtig en laat zich zien in de grote lichte cafe´s op de straathoeken. In Barcelona ontwerpt Cerdá voor stads uitbreiding Eixámple een nieuw type bouwblok. Flexibel en veranderings bestendig om de nieuwe stad structureel flexibel en sociaal  gevarieerd te maken.  In New York wordt het concept multiculturele melting pot vorm gegeven door het Central Park. Een ontspannings plek waar mensen met verschillende achtergronden in een fantasie landschap aan elkaar kunnen wennen. Stedelijk leven Niet alleen de fysieke ruimte verandert. Het heeft effect op hoe we onszelf zien. Stedelijk leven, een stadsmens zijn wordt een manier van leven. De massale aanwezigheid van mensen vraagt om andere manieren van elkaar benaderen en ruimte geven. Anonimiteit is een nieuwe ervaring.   Zo goed en groot als de prille stedenbouw was, wordt het nooit meer. De pretenties en ambities kunnen we in principe nu nog in stedenbouw herkennen. Alleen is de stad en de maatschappij eindeloos meer complex geworden en leidt het nu tot een rigide en gesloten stad.  Sennett toont ons Nehru place, Dehli, India, waar een middelbare heer gestolen Iphones vanachter een kartonnen doos verkoopt. Trots op de plek op de markt die hij verovert heeft. Met niets begonnen, nu een huis en een gezin met studerende kinderen. Van het platteland naar een precair maar beloftevol bestaan. In Shanghai de shikumen, de traditionele hofjes van burengemeenschap. Gesloopt voor hoogbouw met in de plint een shikumen replica, waar nietl anger buren maar jonge professionals de ruimte delen. Open structuren zijn vervangen door gesloten systeembouw. Een open stad accepteert verschil, een gesloten stad heeft er geen plaats voor.  Omgaan met verschil is het lot van de stedeling. Hoe doen we dat? Moeten we van Sennett allemaal liefhebbende buren worden. Jawel, maar buren in de zin van filosoof Levinas zegt Sennett. Iemand met wie je je verwant voelt, maar niet samenvalt. Een goede stedeling worden is ook een techniek. Gebruik je zintuigen. Wandel, oefen jezelf in het spreken met vreemden. Accepteer dat je thuis komen kunt leren.  Open Amsterdam? De schrijfster activiste Jane Jacobs vroeg hem toen hij kritiek had op haar verlangen oude wijken in New York te behouden en nieuwbouw te verwerpen: Richard, wat zou jij dan doen. Het boek is daar op een bepaalde manier een antwoord op. Komt hij uiteindelijk met een groot plan? Een grande design?  Integendeel. Na de analyse hoe mensbeeld en menselijk gedrag op elkaar inwerken komt hij met een korte lijst ruimtelijke ingrediënten en een aantal technieken hoe je samen leert maken. Meer niet. Toch is dat een belangrijke opdracht aan de lezer. Jij maakt de stad, door je te gedragen als een stedeling,  Nieuwe linkse stadsregering: lees dit boek. Deel het uit aan je ambtenaren. Het inspireert en geeft hoop. Voorkom dat Amsterdam zich nog meer sluit. Misschien kan stadmaken wel helemaal anders.  Richard Sennett (1943) is socioloog en stedenbouwer en doceert aan NYU en London School of Economiscs and Politics.  • University Professor of the Humanities, New York University  • Professor of Sociology, the London School of Economics and Political Science  Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City Is het derde boek in de serie over de makende mens, homo faber. Het gaat over de mens als plaatsmaker. In dubbele zin. Van de stad en het thuis.  Het eerste ‘Samen’ gaat over omgaan met elkaar. Het tweede, De Ambachtsman’, over vakmanschap en samenwerken en leren. Het is, desgevraagd, het laatste boek dat hij zal schrijven. Misschien, aarzelde hij, volgt er nog één over cello spelen, zijn eerste beroep.       
Issue #019 Published: 25-08-2018 // Written by: Clara Davies
Minds Of Amsterdam - Camille Guitteau
I’d say Camille has taught me three major things: The importance of eating well, what feminism really means, and how an old school hip hop beat can heal just about anything. In her house she keeps a toy Llama called Jean Patrique, four to five plants, and hundreds of pieces of cut out paper she then turns into collages. She started mixing and matching bits and pieces back in her hometown in France. It’s been 10 years she’s been at it, and she can’t seem to stop. I guess that is what happens when you truly enjoy what you do. 1. So, you cut up pieces of paper and pair them together to make a collage? If you ask me, I do much more than that... Collecting magazines, selecting images, cutting every picture that triggers a reaction, storing them, reviewing when ideas come, storing again. Arranging the papers into a collage, bringing more images in while discarding some, re arranging... I share a piece of life with them.  2. Do you recall when you first thought about making a collage? Actually I do! It first came to me that I wanted to make a (pretty wide) red collage; red is my favorite color. I said that to my Mum, and she told me that, well, I’ll just try on a small one to start with. So she bought me a tiny, square canvas. I made that one. And I’ve been doing that ever since for 10 years. 3. What does your work aim to say? Everything that is in my brain. And that’s why there’s so much in every artwork! 4. How do you know when a work is finished? When I can feel the overall cohesion I’m aiming at.  5. Can you name a few things in life which inspire you? All the themes you find in my collages, and so much more. Philosophy. Science. Creativity itself, colors have always inspired me.  6.  What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? I think it’ll have to be the basic, but percussive: if you feel something deep down, and work extremely hard for it, it is achievable. But don’t ever forget the hard work part.  7. Can you describe your life in three words? Music. Body. Movement. 8. If you were not living in Amsterdam right now, where would you be? That’s a tough question... Probably back to Russia for a little while (I lived there for a year). It inspired me very much, I would like to go back and retrieve the same feelings. But it’ll have to be Summer time! More info:
Issue #019 Published: 10-08-2018 // Written by: Hanna Blom, Sam Simons, Vino Avanesi
Humanities Rally
On June 8th, UvA students were violently removed from campus after a peaceful protest. Students who were part of the protest share their experiences and explain their reasons for protesting. 1. Return to protest Humanities Rally (HR) is a student movement that was formed in 2014, which has since then united students and teachers in a battle against budget cuts and for a democratic and emancipatory university. In 2015 the protests culminated in an occupation of the main office of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the Maagdenhuis, which lasted for almost six weeks. After the occupation of the Maagdenhuis, HR decided the struggle had to be continued from within the institutions as well. For three years, they participated in student politics but eventually came to the somber conclusion that the student councils aren’t democratic bodies that are taken seriously by UvA management. Within the current structure, students can do no more than softening the blow of detrimental policies, while being laughed at by directors during meetings. Now, after three years of battling the board of directors, the problems that caused the 2015 protests are still pervasive. Once again there are stark budget cuts awaiting higher education. At the UvA, itself, 40 full-time jobs are being cut from the Social Sciences and Humanities Faculties. On a national level, there is a huge budget cut of 183 million euros that the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is planning to execute. While these are acute problems to be tackled, they are inevitably tied up with the managerial structure of the university. Until we experience a shift in which teaching and research become the true priorities, issues with diversity and decolonisation cannot receive the proper attention. When the movement needed to decide whether they would continue to participate in the student council elections, it was clear to us that change would not come from within this sham democracy. The only way to make real changes was to pick up where we left off in 2015: Direct action.  2. Reclaiming the University When the university fails to provide an environment for learning and research within a democratic, decolonized, and autonomous academic community, we have to take matters into our own hands. A university whose main focus is the amount of money earned and diplomas handed out, is an institution where the interests of students and teachers take a backseat. This is why we need to actively create spaces within the university where criticism is finally heard. Every time we organize an event, we are reclaiming territory, reminding the Board of Directors for whom and what purpose these buildings were erected. On the 22nd of May, we organized a Night of Protest, the third one in Humanities Rally’s history. This time we joined forces with NU!, an action group formed at the Faculty for Social Sciences and the student union, ASVA. The night was held at the Oudemanhuispoort and featured lectures, panel discussions and music, with the intention to inform students on the issues that are threatening education. Though the night ended with everyone charged and ready to take action, when asked to leave we decided to comply. On the 8th of June, we held a March for Education, with 700 people walking from the Oudemanhuispoort to Roeterseiland, as our chants sounded through the streets. Not only were we joined by students and teachers from across the UvA faculties, delegations from other universities showed up to support the cause as well. On the day of the march, the university decided to close their doors five hours early. We imagine that they wanted  to ensure students inside would not be able to join us, and more importantly, so that we would not be able to occupy. Having anticipated the UvA’s reaction to our march, we set up camp across the water, on a grass field. The day after, alumni would return to the UvA for University Day, thus we found it appropriate to host our own University Night. Yet the university demanded our departure, because of children’s activities that were to be set up early morning on that grass field. When we tried to reach an agreement our departure, the dean made clear that he refused to negotiate with us, and at 22.00 the police started closing in as we sat on the ground, arms interlocked. They started pulling, then dragging, then throwing us at our own tents. We saw our friends being beaten with batons, pepper sprayed, and punched by police. Geert ten Dam, the head of the Board of Directors, explained the situation the next day, saying she ‘supports the cause but carries responsibility for the safety of the buildings and the territory.’ The police violence that took place on Roeterseiland campus, was clearly political in its motivation. A nearby side-walk café, for instance, was cleared out by the cops only after its patrons started protesting against the police brutality taking place. Whilst legally speaking the same area-regulations applied to them, these people were not summoned to leave by the university at precisely 22:00 hours as we were. Police did not ‘escort’ them off campus, until their presence had also become one of dissent. This discrepancy, and the subsequent rapid escalation to violence, lays bare that the alleged offense was a challenge to power, not law. The university as cradle of social change The university does not exist within a vacuum. The repression experienced by students and staff fighting austerity-measures across universities, has only increased over the last five years. This development is symptomatic for the direction in which our neoliberal society is headed. As the idea that everything in society should be run like a business has been losing political legitimacy following the Great Recession, those in power increasingly rely on direct force to push through austerity-measures across society: encroaching on civilians, breaking up strikes, and attacking (student-) protesters. Accordingly, from the Maagdenhuis occupation to recent events, the non-violent reclaiming of space within the university has been a strategic tenet for us. Its political effectiveness stems from its material language: occupying property challenges (and thus reveals) the real interests of neoliberal capital. Additionally, its principally non-violent nature exposes any use of force as politically motivated: since public safety is not threatened here, police-intervention blatantly serves those who own the occupied property. One’s very presence as such becomes a critique of a status-quo that puts profit and property before people. A status-quo, where public institutions, like everything else, are to be run as businesses. It is by revealing the nonsensicality of this assumption, we believe,  that the university movement is of value for society at large.  As the economist Ernest Mandel reminded us, ‘the university can be the cradle of a real renewal of society’. Not through students and staff single-handedly bringing about social change, but more by way of pointing in a possible direction where such change can take place. In order for the HR movement to even begin fulfilling such a function, we must seek to be inclusive of all groups and faculties within the UvA, of (support-) staff, and of university movements across the Netherlands. Simultaneously, we must understand our position: our local issues will not be resolved until addressed on a national level. However, a march on The Hague will only be possible when the university movement stands and organizes with those similarly affected by neoliberal policies. Eventually, we must reach out to the cleaners, the elementary school teachers, to the nurses and bus-drivers, and to all other groups that neoliberal politics has made precarious. Photo: Theo Warnier
Issue #019 Published: 09-08-2018 // Written by: Paris Palmano
An Honest Guide to Climate Change: Confronting the Problem
We know climate change is a problem, we’ve known it for a while now. We’ve known since the work of the Irish physicist John Tyndall in 1859 that the atmosphere grows warmer as an effect of greenhouse gases. We’ve known since the work of the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius in 1896 that the combustion of fossil fuels escalates levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We’ve known since the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE) in Stockholm 1972 that rapid growth dramatically accelerates the rate at which greenhouse gases are emitted. At the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), we decided to work to disperse greenhouse gas concentrations in order to avoid dangerous human interference with the climate system. In 1995, world leaders came together to find solutions to the impending disaster. A Conference of Parties (COP) has been held every year for 20 years before it finally led to an agreement in Paris in 2015. Now we find ourselves in 2018, burdened with 160 years of mounting concern. We still know climate change is a problem, bigger now than at any point in human history, yet the political process continues to let us down while humanity marches towards its demise. For the best part of three decades our leaders have been intoxicated by a deadly cocktail of fruitless pondering, posturing and pandering. Time and again they have fallen into a hopeless cycle of false solutions and self-gratification. If we discovered IJtunnel was suffering critical damage and in need of urgent repair, we would not simply limit the volume of traffic attempting to cross it; we would not adopt a week-on week-off schedule to ease the strain overtime, and we would not ask people to disembark their vehicles and cross by foot. We know that a risk of this scale, a matter of impending catastrophe, requires a rigorous, forensic approach, locating the cause of the problem and to fix it before needless tragedy transpires. If we can see the root of the problem so plainly then why do we allow our governments and corporations to swerve accountability when it comes to climate change?  Our politicians feed and thrive within a narrative, a narrative in which they recognise the urgent threat of climate change. Yet, the solutions they implement lack the magnitude necessary to avert disaster. They celebrate micro-achievements such as the introduction of hybrid busses, LED street lights, and recycling reward schemes, while claiming to lead the world in climate mitigation. Our governments appear to be dealing with the problem but are in fact doing very little in real terms. Blinded by this futile narrative, people take shorter showers, recycle, protest, like and share. These measures are important, but without action that matches the problem, they may all be in vain. So why is it that governments with the necessary resources and technical knowledge at their disposal fail to meet the grievous threat of climate change? Perhaps the best way to understand this is to view our self-defeating relationship with fossil fuels as addiction. Fossil fuels power our economies, our societies and our lives in so many ways: to live without them seems impossible. Our governments display classic signs of addiction: they openly acknowledge the problem of impending climate catastrophe in order to deny the real solution. Typically, an alcoholic doesn’t deny they have a problem. Instead, they say “I’m working on it. I know I have a problem but I’m taking measures, I don’t drink spirits, I’ve stopped drinking before breakfast, maybe that will help”. For anyone who has been close to someone dealing with addiction, it’s easy to become complicit, to recognise that steps are being taken and to commend this behaviour because it’s so painful to confront the real solution. It hurts, it’s difficult and it ends in arguments. The hardest thing for an addict is to face doing what must be done.  The only way we will avert climate catastrophe is if we confront our problem honestly. It won’t be an easy task and it will require significant change, but if we hope to safeguard our future it has to be done. To find a solution, we must face reality and meet climate change with action that matches the severity of its impacts. Let’s use the last 160 years of scientific knowledge and experience as a motivation for a politics that confronts the true social and economic causes of climate change in order to find a solution for the benefit of humanity and all life on Earth. Illustration: Pedro Kastelijns
Issue #019 Published: 06-08-2018 // Written by: GWA
Grafische Werkplaats Amsterdam
De stichting GWA is opgericht in 2004, toen Wiek Molin en Martin Veltman - zelf ooit opgeleid als handzetter en inmiddels werkzaam als drukker/kunstenaar en docent - steeds meer drukpersen en lettermateriaal zagen verdwijnen. Drukkerijen stopten, kunstenaars die te oud werden om de machines te bedienen, maar ook academies die dachten dat met de komst van de computer drukpersen overbodig zouden worden. Ze zochten een locatie om alles kwijt te kunnen, en vonden deze kleine garage achter de voormalige Utermohlen verband fabriek.  Vanaf het begin hebben ze gezegd: GWA wordt geen museum. Alles moet draaien, de kennis moet worden overgedragen en het erfgoed behouden. En nu, bijna 15 jaar later, blijkt dat een visionaire gedachte. GWA biedt sindsdien aan de lopende band workshops en cursussen op het gebied van letterzetten, drukken, boekbinden, lino, houtsnede en droge naald. Aan iedereen die het weten wil. Schoolkinderen, studenten van kunstacademies, grafisch ontwerpers, amateurs en professionals. Drukkers met nostalgie naar het oude, maar vooral jongeren die behoefte hebben aan het ambacht als tegenhanger voor digitale eenheidsworst. Step away from the computer! De bezetting van de stichting bestaat uit beheerders van de werkplaats, docenten en vrijwilligers. Twee jaar geleden, in 2016, is de ‘oervader’ van GWA, Wiek, overleden. Veel te vroeg en nog lang niet klaar. Ineens werd ons credo, dat de kennis uitsterft als we er niets tegen doen, wrede werkelijkheid. Maar GWA draait door, dankzij de solide basis die gelegd is, en vooral dankzij de inzet van zoveel liefhebbers. Onlangs veranderden we onze naam van Grafisch Werkcentrum Amsterdam in [typo] Grafische Werkplaats Amsterdam. Om de werkplaatsfunctie te benadrukken, en omdat we meer nadruk wilden leggen op onze zetterij met houten en loden letters. Het bijzondere aan de grafische druktechnieken is, als je het mij vraagt, het contact dat je hebt met het materiaal. Het werken met deze technieken noopt tot stap voor stap werken, en de beperking ervan dwingt tot het maken van creatieve beslissingen. Een fout draai je niet met een eenvoudig Appeltje-Z terug, en vaak blijkt diezelfde fout juist de opmaat voor een beter idee. Alles is na te maken, tegenwoordig, maar het proces zelf is niet en nooit vervangbaar.  Naast cursussen staan ook bijzondere projecten op het programma: onder de noemer Grafische Expedities gaan we de samenwerking aan met andere disciplines. Zo hadden we onder meer Poëzie & Inkt, met dichters tussen de persen, Theater & Inkt, waarbij theatermakers hun eigen omslag voor een nieuwe tekst ontwierpen en drukten, Film & Inkt (filmposter ism Kriterion), Vinyl & Inkt met de Amsterdamse band Bolster die zijn eigen LPhoes drukte. En vorig jaar bracht 3D&Inkt ons prachtige nieuwe houten letters, zoals de Typewood en een totaal nieuwe Arabische houten letter, de Kanat.  Onze slogan is Step Away From the Computer. Het is ook de naam van de bedrijfsworkshops die we organiseren. Een dag weg van de computer, voor groepen tot 25 man. Er wordt gebruik van gemaakt door reclamebureaus, communicatieprofessionals, maar ook door een groep tandartsen of een familie waarvan opa vroeger een drukkerij had. Voor GWA is het de ideale manier om binnen onze missie (het vertellen van het verhaal van de boekdrukkunst) een beetje geld te verdienen. Alles gaat weer terug in de werkplaats, GWA is een non-profit instelling met voorlopig nog een beetje subsidie van de stad. De Grafische Werkplaats Amsterdam heeft, hoewel de oprichters allemaal uit de Communistische hoek komen, geen politieke missie, maar houdt zijn ogen niet gesloten voor maatschappelijke veranderingen. Met de poster Wees Lief voor de Stad geven we dan ook vooral een boodschap af aan de mensen die het verschil kunnen maken. Project-ontwikkelaars, huizenbezitters, mensen met invloed: denk twee keer na waar je je geld aan uitgeeft. Zorg dat de stad leefbaar blijft, en verloochen je belangrijkste kracht niet. Die van de rafelrand, de creatievelingen die steeds weer het risico nemen (denk aan de kunststad van NDSM) en daarmee de basis leggen voor de commerciele creatieve industrie (zie wat er nu gebeurt op NDSM). Wij maken geen werk in opdracht, in die zin dat we geen opdrachten op afstand aannemen. We vragen altijd van de opdrachtgever om in de werkplaats te komen, om te zien hoe het proces in zijn werk gaat. Waar je kan helpen, help je mee: ook al drukken wij het uiteindelijke produkt, zo hebben we toch weer aan de missie voldaan. We bemoeien ons niet met de inhoud, maar zien wel dat deze manier van werken vooral mensen aantrekt met aandacht voor ambacht, voor schoonheid en voor duurzaamheid. De veranderingen in de stad beginnen we ook aan den lijve te ondervinden. Dit jaar opende op ‘ons’ terreintje, een achteraf plekje aan het eind van de Molukkenstraat dat ooit het eind van de wereld leek, een grote Albert Heijn. De bestaande bedrijfjes, waaronder de legendarische muziekstudio waar bandjes repeteren, bleven daarbij ongemoeid. Tot nu toe levert het voor ons vooral veel meer zichtbaarheid op, maar het is natuurlijk de vraag in hoeverre in de toekomst nog ruimte blijft voor non-profit organisaties in de stad. We sell the city, oh yes. Maar GWA drukt pamfletten waar nodig, en ook geld als het op is. En het contact met Appie is hartstikke goed. Wij drukken met passie. Ook je bonuspassie. Onze toekomstdroom is om een grafisch werkend museum te realiseren. Ambacht, educatie, erfgoed: het model van het Textielmuseum in Tilburg, waar expositieruimte, werkplaats en museale functie samenkomen is voor ons een voorbeeld. Wie weet kunnen we samenwerken met andere ambachtelijke pioniers. We hebben de kennis, de materialen en de tijdgeest mee. Nu nog een pand en een investeerder met het hart op de juiste plaats.  More info >>>
Issue #019 Published: 02-08-2018 // Written by: Jacqueline Schoemaker
What Design Can Do: Handbook of Tyranny (book review)
Handbook of Tyranny, made by architect Leo Deutinger, is an atlas of coercive design. A vast range of instruments of control, from the walls built globally between nation states and other territories till park benches in the city and reed grass to protect private (and public) property, is depicted in two-colour maps and graphic illustrations, showing in simple black and red the extent to which we are all somehow subjected to these devices, while we are also the agents of them. The book consists of two sections. The first, ‘The tragedy of Territory’, focuses on instruments of control related to nations, cities and other territories. In the introduction Deutinger explains the relation between human beings, the space we inhabit and the technology we develop to control that space. He says, “We are not just people, but citizens …. As citizens, we surrender, we disarm and hand over the right to use our weapons (our technology) to the state, so that the state can fight for us and protect us.” (p. 9). That is how we’ve organised living together. We are born into a set of pre-existing rules that belong to a particular territory. We are immediately assigned to one of the 203 existing nation states. And while in earlier times the power of a certain territory only went so far as, for example, the city walls and actual unclaimed ‘land’ between cities existed, modern technologies of surveillance and warfare allow for each state to exert power throughout its entire territory (p. 10), leaving no terrain uncovered. Using a minimum of lines, dots and words, Deutinger goes on to illustrate how the principle of territorial law and power works all over the world. In the chapter ‘Human Range’, he depicts in simple curved dotted lines the evolution of the distance reached by several weapons, from the javelin in the premodern age (100 metres) till the sniper rifle today (3540 metres). The consequences of this evolution can be seen on the map of Africa, which is shown on the next pages. On the left, the map of the continent shows a myriad of meandering borderlines, much like a street plan of a medieval inner city. These were the boundaries of the historical ethnicities before the colonization of the continent. On the right side, we see the map with the national boundaries as we know them today. The distance between the borderlines is visibly wider and the lines are distinctly more orderly. The design looks like a simplified version of the map on the left, with even a few completely straight lines in the north, the result of colonising countries dividing the land between themselves without any regard for existing cultures and organic borders. Next, 199 miniature maps of the world show to how many countries (black patches on the world map) citizens of a particular nation state have visa-free access. It starts with Germany (where the people have visa-free access to 159 countries), and ends with Afghanistan (where the people have access to 22 other countries). If you flip the pages quickly, you can see the black patches of land disappear in a moving image, as the countries your eyes move over are more and more isolated in the world, like islands, and only a few black dots (pied-a-terres) remain at the end. Other graphics follow: walls, fences and other barriers, depicted in detail with reference to the materials used and where in the world they are located; organisations designated as terrorist groups since 1900 and the evolution of the colours of their flags; various spatial variants of refugee camps and where in the world they occur (by far the largest amount is situated in Central and East Africa); various means of demolishing buildings; various means of controlling crowds; sizes of prison cells as defined by law per country, depicted in a grey-tone image of square frames, one inside another, where the outer frame is light grey (and refers to the 12 square metres that Switzerland defines as a minimum surface for a prison cell) and the inner frame is anthracite (the 2 square metres that Guinea allows), leaving a black square in the middle, which through the effect of the grading becomes the innermost centre of your attention.  A chapter named ‘The Defensive City’ focusses on how the ordinary citizen is approached as an enemy by the authorities. ’Unwanted behaviour’ is the accusatory basis for the implementation of subtle design elements that try to influence the use of public space without being noticed,” Deutinger writes in the introduction to the chapter (p. 85). The ‘Camden bench’ in London is a street bench designed in such a way that all possible ‘abuse’ of the bench (like lying down on it, skateboarding over it or littering on it) is resisted. Another strategy to resist actual life in the city is the “strategy of absence” (no bench at all), but, Deutinger comically remarks, that strategy is difficult to illustrate (p. 86). What he does illustrate, are the very ordinary means, small measures against ‘deviant behaviour’ that we hardly notice, like anti-sticker garbage cans, half benches at tram and bus stops, CCTV camera’s disguised as street lamps and anti-climb paint on walls. Through these means, citizens are discouraged to do anything other than walk, shop, and, maybe, sit. Moreover, in the “ram-proof city” (p. 92), we are also ‘protected’ against (terrorist) attacks carried out with the use of vehicles by ditches, ornamental rocks, slopes, hidden bollards etc. In total Deutinger lists, explains and illustrates 26 defence mechanisms against ‘unwanted behaviour’ and 17 ways to prevent attacks with vehicles in the city.  The second section of the book deals with the ‘vast conspiracy’ behind the use of the instruments of control, the fact that many organisations, companies and individuals, but also animate and inanimate objects agree with / collaborate on / happen to be part of systems of power and control. Brendan McGetrick, who writes the essay that introduces this section, writes: “It is … the link between the human and the nonhuman, that turns a dog into a guard dog and bamboo into a fence” (p. 112). If you always wanted to know how the existing varieties of the death penalty are carried out throughout the world, or which exact steps are taken in the killing and processing of animals, this is the place to do your research. 1966 miniature chickens are depicted, in red, on the page which shows how many chickens, ducks, pigs, rabbits, turkeys, geese, sheep, goats, cattle and bison are killed per second worldwide. The most treacherous chapter, however, is without doubt the last one, named ‘Green Fortress’, which focuses on how nature is manipulated to control human behaviour, while at the same time it is propagated as pristine, untouched, innocent. A double page shows 22 defence mechanisms used to keep possible intruders at bay from a private house. The following pages show details of the illustrations and explain how columnar trees, hedges, prickly vines, ponds, gravel walkways and raised garden beds all conspire to protect property in the guise of lovely landscaping.  Handbook of Tyranny simply shows what design can do in its all-encompassing territory of its own. The strength of the book lies in the fact that Deutinger combines excellent and thorough research with letting the graphics speak for themselves. Instead on elaborating on the horrors of the speed with which animals are continually slaughtered worldwide, he presents the facts on a single page without further ado, so that it is left to the reader / viewer to decode the horrors. Through graphic representation, a densification of reality takes place until the essence of things is reached without the actual reality present. That is why what is graphically depicted is both not the real thing and the very real thing. Deutinger uses this power of graphic visualisation to reveal the existing architectures of power in the world. He lets design beat itself at its own game. Without many words and with only a few lines and colours, he reminds us of what we already know but have never pictured so aptly. Handbook of Tyranny, Leo Deutinger, Lars Müller Publishers, Zürich, 2018. The images are reproduced with kind permission of the publisher.
Issue #019 Published: 27-07-2018 // Written by: Jorge DS
Bajesdorp: An ever-changing place
Next to the old Bijlmerbajes, the former prison in the east of the city, in Watergraafsmeer, lies one of the last squats of the city. The village known as Bajesdorp has been squatted since 2003 and has become an iconic place for its festival, community center, and other initiatives. The area was recently bought by a real-estate developer, and Bajesdorp is now under threat. Still, people of the community haven’t given up and are continuing with Bajesdorp’s projects and the free space for themselves and the city. They have even developed a new initiative: Bajesdorp 2020. Bajesdorp now The group living in Bajesdorp is a complex of eighteen multi-ideological beautiful people from many different backgrounds. You find Latin translators, boat skippers, industrial climbers, musicians, entrepreneurs and social workers, all of them sharing the idea of living in a community and creating communal free spaces for the city. In order to do this, the group has developed several spaces and projects inside and outside the village. Some of these initiatives may be familiar to many of us, but others are less known and yet really cool. One of the most well-known spaces is Buurtcentrum de Muiterij, where weekly activities take place. For instance, one can attend the language café on Mondays to learn Dutch in a socially integrative way with other people, or you can drop by on Tuesdays and enjoy a voku dinner while listening to a musical performance. People can also participate in the recently introduced sketch nights to draw together with others devoted to graphics and visual arts. The Muiterij also has a fully equipped print screening studio, where you can bring your frames and print them.  One of the most important aspects of the Muiterij is that it connects the people in Bajesdorp and allows them to get involved in the projects of the village. It is also the place where people who don’t live there can visit and join in these activities and projects. According to Annastina and Inès, two of the people living in Bajesdorp, the center is essential because it is a communal, neutral place where people of the village can invite others without disturbing anybody. Moreover, it is the place where the work groups and the General Assembly hold their meetings. According to them, this place is crucial for the well-functioning of the community. In addition to the Muiterij, Bajesdorp has a communal garden project with flowers, herbs, tomatoes, basil, peppers, green beans, pears, raspberries, strawberries and potatoes, which are all grown by the inhabitants. One of them created a compost initiative for the neighbourhood and received an award from the municipality for it. This garden also serves to integrate the village with people living in the surroundings. One can often find neighbours chilling and enjoying a green space in the middle of the semi-industrial area. Also people from the offices next to the Bajesdorp go there to eat lunch, and others passing by just sit there sometimes to have a minute of relaxation.  The ‘artivist residency’ is another creative initiative by Bajesdorp. It allows the artist to stay there and focus on his or her artistic work. Someone in the village proposes inviting an artist or the artivist himself or herself sends an email. Someone from Bajesdorp then takes care of the arrangements and the practical details.  Apart from the community centre with its initiatives and facilities, and the communal garden with its nature space, Bajesdorp also includes less-known spaces. Among these are a movable sauna, a hot-tub and a romantic tree-house for guests. All of these play an essential role in establishing bonds between the community and its visitors.  In the past, the Bajesdorp community has organized different recreational and political events. One of them is the ‘Rond de Bajes’, a bicycle race around the old jail that takes place every year. In previous races, some participants brought their simple old bikes while others showed up all equipped with their professional racing bicycles. Another sports event organized by Bajesdorp was the WBW Streetball Cup, a ping-pong and basketball tournament.  Bajesdorp also organized and hosted political events like the recent Food Autonomy Festival and some events supporting refugees. In part, the aim of organizing recreational and political activities is to create a space for supporting freedom, a sense of community and ideals of solidarity. Apart from the activities organized by the villagers, people not living there can also use the communal spaces of Bajesdorp for projects that suit the spirit of the community. A group of neighbour students, for example, recently started a new initiative in which they meet once a month with asylum seekers to help them to integrate into the sometimes complicated Dutch society. Ideologically speaking Bajesdorp consists of different shapes and flavours. You can see this during Bajesdorp Festival: while one house plays reggae, another plays hard punk. “We are a mix of punk and bourgeois”, the inhabitants joking describe themselves. However, and more seriously, they agree that their different ideologies evolve around one organizing principle: living in a community. According to the inhabitants, one shared political ideal by the people living in Bajesdorp is that the city needs affordable places to live. In this regard, Bajesdorp’s future project aims to perpetuate this ideal.  Bajesdorp, like other free and politically active spaces in Amsterdam, has a lot to offer, not only to the alternative community or the people living in those spaces but to its neighbourhoods. These places are crucial to the city because they are epicenters of creation, discussion, integration, freedom and community. However, this does not seem to satisfy many people who follow a different way of thinking, like the logic of the neoliberal market.  Despite the gentrifying hydra being at the gate of many free spaces in Amsterdam, the struggle to keep these spaces alive is by no means lost. Bajesdorp, like many other initiatives, is an example of resistance, an attempt to keep these spaces alive and kicking. In defiance of the possibility of being evicted and ultimately losing the space, the people in the village are now harvesting the fruits of their resistance with Bajesdorp 2020. Bajesdorp 2020 The community of Bajesdorp is lively and ever-changing. People come and go; new input, new ideas and skills are added to the community; people add their energy and leave the collective-living space. There are inhabitants who want to move on from Bajesdorp, inhabitants who want to keep the village the way it is as long as possible, and inhabitants who want to continue with it as a legalized project: Bajesdorp 2020.  In the summer of 2016, Bijlmerbajes prison was shut down. The whole area, including the six towers and Bajesdorp, was put on the market to be sold at the highest bid and the best development plan. Ten private developers submitted their proposals. Although people of Bajesdorp fought to get the chance to buy and develop their own place, the whole area was sold to real-estate developer AM in the end. Under the name Bajeskwartier, AM works together with AT Capital, Cairn and the designers OMA, FABRICations and LOLA Landscape to transform the site into a new residential area. As soon as AM bought the place, it announced the demolition of the houses in Bajesdorp, including the Muiterij. People from Bajesdorp protested against this; however, the National Government and the Municipality of Amsterdam approved the transformation plans. The demolition, as it was announced by the real-state developer, will take place in two stages: one in September of this year and the second in February 2019. Taking this scenario as a starting point, the Bajesdorp people worked on a plan to buy the adjacent piece of land and to develop Bajesdorp 2020, a new alternative working-living village. On this piece of land, they aim to host 25-40 people by 2020. At this moment negotiations with AM about this are ongoing. A decision about the price must be reached by this summer. With Bajesdorp 2020, the founders want to create a place based on the principles of the existing Bajesdorp: a solidarity-based, social, creative and sustainable living space. The project was inspired by the German Mietshäusersyndikat, which collaborates with housing communities to create living-working housing spaces. This organization offers a theoretical structure for taking houses out of the capital market. The core of this model is to acquire homes collectively in order to create affordable, self-sustained spaces to live in. To implement the German Mietshäusersyndikat model in the Netherlands, people from Bajesdorp and some other residential groups in Amsterdam founded the Dutch VrijCoop, the first umbrella organization for solidarity housing cooperatives in the Netherlands. The mission of VrijCoop is to generate affordable social housing within. It works as follows. A group of people living together or who want to live together form an association or a cooperative (like Bajesdorp) and join VrijCoop. Then the group buys or builds a building, of which not the individuals but the organization becomes the owner. Juridically, no contract can prohibit the inhabitants from selling the building, but VrijCoop always has the right to veto upon sale, which implies that the site and the buildings can never be sold. By removing estates and houses from the capital market in this way, this initiative directly counters speculation, one of the leading causes of non-affordable housing. Besides generating affordable, community-based spaces to live, the second objective of Bajesdorp 2020 is sustainability. The project aims at being as sustainable and energy-neutral as possible. Bajesdorp 2020 also seeks to function as a laboratory to test innovative ideas relating to sustainability, which can be implemented in the rest of the neighbourhood if they prove successful.  Bajesdorp Festival 2018 Every summer Bajesdorpers host their festival. This year will be a special edition because it will be the stepping stone and transition between the current Bajesdorp and Bajesdorp 2020. Apart from offering space to have a good time, the festival will provide information about the crowdfunding campaign which is part of the complex financing plan of the new Bajesdorp initiative. Also, people can find information on the crowdfunding campaign on the Bajesdorp website. Don’t miss it!   For more information: Bajesdorp festival info Illustration: Savvas Kopidis  
Issue #019 Published: 17-07-2018 // Written by: PW
30 jaar Pakhuis Wilhelmina
Op zaterdag 23 en zondag 24 juni jongstleden was het feest in een van de laatst overgebleven pakhuizen aan de Veemkade. Pakhuis Wilhelmina werd precies dertig jaar geleden gered van de sloop. De rijke en roerige geschiedenis van het pand uit 1892 werd gevierd met open ateliers, exposities, workshops, live muziek en natuurlijk eten en drinken. Vroeger lag het er vol cacaobonen, die gelost werden door schepen uit de koloniën; nu is Pakhuis Wilhelmina een creatief bolwerk waar kunstenaars, architecten, artiesten, ontwerpers en ambachtslieden werken. Dertig jaar geleden, op de dag dat Oranje de legendarische EK-finale tegen Rusland speelde, redde een groep kunstenaars het pakhuis van de sloop door het te kraken. In de roerige jaren daarna hielden ze stand – zelfs toen er een compleet nieuw gebouw over ze heen werd gebouwd. De oude opslagruimtes werden getransformeerd tot een pand met betaalbare ateliers en een podium voor muziek, verhalen en meer. Open ateliers  Ruim vijftig kunstenaars stelden hun ateliers open voor het publiek en bouwden daar meteen een feestje omheen, met workshops en performances. Modeontwerpers, fotografen, architecten, vormgevers, keramisten, schilders, tekenaars, beeldhouwers, timmermannen en een pianorestaurateur vertoonden hun kunsten. Er waren films in Mezrab, en groepsexposities in de galerie op de begane grond en in de lange gangen op de verdiepingen. Een greep uit de deelnemers: Chikako Watanabe, Erik Odijk, Freudenthal/Verhagen, Krien Clavis en Karin van Dam. Muziek aan het water Op het kadefestival voor de deur brachten de muzikanten uit het pand zaterdag en zondag vanaf 12.00 uur hun repertoire ten gehore: Jan Kin, Beatrice van der Poel, Harm Wijntjes, Astrid Seriese, Bob Fosko en vele anderen. De befaamde Professor Nomad was er ook bij met zijn Undercover Sessies – dit keer ABBA en Neil Young! Degenen die het nog wat traditioneler wilden, vonden aan de kade een Gamelanhuis met een bijzondere verzameling antieke instrumenten uit Indonesië.   Photo: Betul Ellialtioglu
Issue #019 Published: 13-07-2018 // Written by: Berith Danse
Interview with Emma Hall on World Problems residency at Theater Oostblok
Emma Mary Hall (1981) is an actor, theatre maker and writer from Melbourne, Australia who makes solo performances and has been described as ‘radically personal’ and compared to the likes of Tim Etchells and Laurie Anderson.  Emma’s first piece, We May Have to Choose, which looks at the political impacts of social media, has been hugely popular worldwide since it premiered in 2015, and her second piece, Ode to Man, received the ‘best emerging writer’ award at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe Festival. In August this year, Emma will be the first artist to participate in Theatre Oostblok’s new International Artist in Residence summer program to develop her third piece, World Problems, hatched during a Cultureland residency in Starnmeer, North Holland. She will be working with Australian director Olivia Monticciolo and Amsterdam artists Sarah Nixon and Jasna VeličKovi during this time. World Problems is an experimental performance about ecological change and collective action, where the performer will build a world with the audience each night.  ------------------------------------------- Interview: ------------------------------------------- Emma could you tell us why you have chosen to do the second stage of World Problems in Amsterdam East this summer? There’s a very special energy to Amsterdam, a sense of perpetual motion that I wanted to capture in the physical elements of the performance. So, when Berith Danse at Theatre Oostblok offered us a spot in their new International Artist in Residence program, it meant I could work with an Amsterdam-based scenographer and composer, which is such a rare opportunity for an independent artist. It is a dream! And Theatre Oostblok is gorgeous, it’s a quirky little venue right in the heart of urban Amsterdam. I love how it is situated between the tourism and business precincts, the university, the parklands and the residential neighbourhoods. It is almost a microcosm of the forces shaping human lives. Could you tell us more about the urgency of making this project for you? I’m trying to work out how to stay alive when the future feels so uncertain. Climate change presents an impossible paradox: merely by existing in an overpopulated planet we are contributing to its destruction. And yet we all fight to keep breathing.  I believe we can only talk about future living and dying on this planet if we acknowledge our interconnected lives as world citizens. World Problems is really an experiment in how we can talk about a shared future within and across countries.  What does World Problems mean? It’s a very literal title. We are articulating, in a 50-minute performance, all of the problems facing the future of our planet: economically, socially, politically, and geographically. It is also a play on the catchphrase ‘First World Problems.’  Which problems that you are concerned about affect us too?  The perspectives you have in Europe, and particularly a commerce hub such as Amsterdam, are very different from ours in Melbourne. The Netherlands itself is a sort of triumph of ‘man over nature’. You built a country out of water. You are world leaders in engineering, and people look to you for advice on how to survive future catastrophic climate change. Australia offers a very different understanding of land and time. It has been a colony for little over two hundred years, but it is home to the oldest living culture in the world (over 40,000 years). And the story of how this land was violently stolen from its original inhabitants is sadly a sort of secret story. For many Indigenous Australians, environmental destruction began with European colonisation, and we are already living in a post-apocalyptic age. World Problems is trying to open up a conversation between these perspectives and activate people to understand what it means to fully engage in the world around them. How do residents from Amsterdam East connect to this topic do you think? I’m interested in how residents, like young professionals and international people living in Amsterdam East, put down roots in cities that are not their own. The residency gives us a special opportunity to open up the theatre during a month when most theatres go dark. The restaurant will be open all month and there’ll be special workshops and events in the evenings. We want to provide a space for nearby residents, who might not normally go to the theatre, to come in and have a chat. What role can Amsterdam residents play in your work?  At the end of our first week (on Saturday 11 August) we will be running a public discussion to get a sense from people who live in the area how they view Amsterdam and what role the city plays in global conversations about land and the future. We will also be running free writing workshops, looking at various tools and vocabularies for generating and performing text in contemporary performance, and set design workshops. We want Amsterdam residents to enter into this conversation and claim the space and ideas as their own, before the final performances on 31st August and 1st September.  What can participants expect from participating in the process of your performance? It’s still a mystery! We are experimenting with ways of activating people: energetically, emotionally and imaginatively. We want people to see the communities and connections they are already a part of. This might involve physical participation, or it might be more internal activation and provocation.  How can they subscribe and what they need to prepare for it? You can contact Theatre Oostblok through the website or simply mail There is no need to prepare anything accept that if you decide to participate that you also finish the period of the project. It can be both in English or Dutch no problem.  Where will the project go after Amsterdam? We will be premiering the final work in Melbourne in March 2019 at FortyFive Downstairs, an underground basement space in the centre of the city. How can they follow the project online? We will be posting regular updates on my social media accounts (Emma Mary Hall on Facebook, @emmamaryhall on twitter and instagram), and final details will be posted on the Theatre Oostblok website and Facebook as well. With this project we both want to make the wires visible on how people and especially creative people are connected worldwide. Berith Danse did a similar thing before in her former company. PROGRAM Talk and Meet Emma with participants and residents:   Saturday 11th of august: 20:00-22:00  Workshops on contemporary performance writing:  Thursday 9th of Aug 19:00-22: 00 Saturday 18th of August 10:00 -13:00 Workshops on interactive scenography design:  Thursday 16th of Aug 19:00-22: 00 Wednesday 29th of August 19:00-22: 00 Please come and enjoy this opportunity  More info here! Photo by: Alex Hewitt (2015)
Issue #019 Published: 09-07-2018 // Written by: Tres Perros
Homeless: Diogenes in Amsterdam
It is the first time in a long time that the sun is shining again in Amsterdam. The whole weekend lies ahead. Everyone is in a rush to make the most of it before the rain returns. In front of the supermarket, like every day, Theo stands next to his backpack, the street papers he sells tucked under his arm.  “Hi Theo, how is it going with you today?”   “So so.”  “Well … at least it’s a nice day.”  “Nah, it’s not a good day for me.”  Perhaps when everyone is in a rush to make the most of their day, Theo stops existing for them. This does not just mean that everyone is too busy to stop and buy his paper. All the laughing couples, all the excited children, all the smiling passers-by, they give Theo an acute sense of his place in the city. He stands right next to them, but between him and them exists an invisible and impenetrable divide: they have homes; he is homeless. Recent figures published by Statistics Netherlands (CBS, Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek) show that the number of homeless people has soared in the past few years. In 2009 there were 17,800 homeless people in the Netherlands. In 2016 this figure nearly doubled to 30,500 homeless people. Especially remarkable is the sharp rise of the number of homeless people under thirty and homeless people from non-Western backgrounds: from 4,000 (2009) to 12,400 (2016) young people living on the streets, and from 6,500 (2009) to 14,900 (2016) non-Western homeless people. Indeed, the intersection of these two groups, young non-Western people, has more than quadrupled between 2009 and 2016.  Behind these dry numbers are multiple human tragedies. However, as the CBS informs further, one important limitation of their official statistics is that they only cover homeless people who are on at least one of the existing registers for social care and shelter. They don’t include for example those people without papers who can’t reveal themselves to the authorities and therefore aren’t on the books anywhere. Charities try to keep track of their numbers, but as the Trimbos Institute notes, reliable results are difficult to achieve. A recent official inquiry into homelessness in Amsterdam complains in a similar vein about absent or inconclusive records from the municipality (Rekenkamer Metropool Amsterdam, Wachten op opvang, 2017: 6).  Before addressing these striking blind spots, let us return to what official numbers state beyond doubt: the sharp rise of homelessness in the Netherlands. The cluster of reasons for it include social benefit cuts, a shortfall of affordable housing, restrictive rules around shelter and homeless care. What makes this sharp rise of homelessness truly remarkable, however, is the fact that it started shortly after the four largest Dutch cities – Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, also known as the G4 – developed and implemented a detailed seven-year action plan against homelessness. This initiative dates from 2006 and is known as the G4 Homelessness Action Plan. The 2006 Action Plan had four major aims: (1) reintroducing homeless people to regular work and permanent accommodation, (2) reducing controllable reasons for homelessness like forced eviction, (3) post-incarceration re-socialization programmes, and finally (4) the reduction of public nuisance and petty criminality caused by homeless people.    That public policy has not succeeded to curb homelessness is clear from the numbers. In particular, it has failed to deliver on points (1) and (2) of the Action Plan. But the puzzling fact remains that homeless people in, for example, the city of Amsterdam seem to be less visible despite this failure. We have stumbled on this disturbing state of affairs twice already in the course of this article: Theo is overlooked in broad daylight by those around him – this tells us something about how little the phenomenon of homelessness strikes us in ordinary situations. Maybe it is no accident that it is on tourist blogs where you find some degree of astonishment about the virtual absence of homeless people in the streets of Dutch cities (e.g. Then, it is evident that official bookkeeping on homelessness fails to register the actual extent of homelessness, even by its own admission – this tells us something about structural problems with homelessness policy. While the G4 Homelessness Action Plan failed to reintegrate homeless people and to prevent homelessness, it succeeded in the realization of point (4), cleaning up the public image of Dutch cities by making the homeless invisible. Here we find two kinds of invisibility, which are not mutually exclusive: while we might be less sensitive to homelessness around us (in part, perhaps, because the homeless do not fit our stereotypes), the state has simultaneously been working hard to render homelessness invisible, for example, through strict enforcement of vagrancy laws. The policy on homelessness indeed rests on an ambivalence. On the one hand, there is some understanding that society should invest public resources in order to help the homeless. On the other hand, there is a drive to suppress what is perceived as the unacceptable lifestyle of the homeless. A recent research paper formulates this side of the ambivalence succinctly: “the aim is to combat their [perceived] amoral lifestyle and curb the nuisance they cause, even if this only involves them being visible” (Graaf, Doorn, Kloppenburg & Akkermans 2010: 6).   It is necessary to caution against a misunderstanding at this point. In talking about homelessness in terms of lifestyle we do not mean to suggest that homelessness is a voluntary choice. It rarely ever is. Taking drugs might be a lifestyle choice; drug addiction, a major problem among the homeless, isn’t – nobody chooses it. For our purposes, therefore, choice and lifestyle are two separate concepts. We want to speak of homelessness in terms of lifestyle, because this allows us to say that homelessness is a possible, even likely, outcome for those who cannot live within those frameworks of life – lifestyles – that society accepts and reinforces. How strong the motivation is to make these unwanted lifestyles disappear is clear from the fact that even failed attempts to offer homeless people support, to give them shelter, to look after their various other needs, such as the G4 Homelessness Action Plan, manage to make them disappear from the streets. What waits for those outside the circle of municipal shelters and recognized rehabilitation and reintegration programmes are overstretched emergency facilities, and beyond those the municipal vagrancy and loitering laws (see for example Gemeente Amsterdam, Algemene Plaatselijke Verordening 2008: art. 2.20). These regulations make it difficult for homeless people to sleep outside, as they commit a crime by their very presence in public spaces at night.  Homeless people in the streets of Dutch cities are caught in a spiral of exclusion and criminalization. They are invisible because they have to hide away with family and friends until their hosts can’t continue to shelter them any longer. They sleep in the open in obscure spots where they can’t be discovered (De Groene Amsterdammer, “Zelfredzaam zonder dak”, 20 December 2017). Despite being perfectly well organized to do his job as a street paper vendor, Theo belongs to this group of homeless people. Sometimes he is sleeping rough, sometimes at his friends’ who drink too much and get into fights, sometimes, when he can afford it, at a youth hostel, “to get a break from the crazy people”. The G4 Homelessness Action Plan does not apply to him. To get access to municipal shelter and rehabilitation facilities, homeless people need to fulfill stringent requirements (cf. H. Obink, “Amsterdamse daklozen krijgen te weinig hulp”, Trouw, 15 December 2017). They need to go through complex procedures to prove that they can’t help themselves; they need thorough documentation to be eligible for admission; they also need to demonstrate that they have some connection to the municipality where they ask for help, sometimes reaching back several years. Theo fails half these entrance criteria. He is one of the 66.7% of applicants who get rejected by the Amsterdam shelter system, often without further explanation (Rekenkamer Metropool Amsterdam 2017: 30-4). While the G4 Homelessness Action Plan doesn’t help Theo, the very same Action Plan makes sure that he needs to find ways to stay out of sight.  Why this effort to suppress the visibility of homelessness? Just for the sake of argument, let’s turn around the perspective. Whereas current policy assists the homeless on the premise that to help them is to make them conform to given societal standards of human functioning, helping the homeless could also mean to accommodate society to what is officially perceived as an aberrant lifestyle. Helping the homeless could also mean to create conditions that make it unnecessary to render “dysfunctional” lifestyles invisible. Meet George. He lives on the streets of Amsterdam because he is struggling with a serious drug addiction. He is one of those cases deemed recalcitrant by the authorities, because he doesn’t seem able to reintegrate on their terms. When activists took over unused premises somewhere in the city and opened an informal social space there, George became a regular. Gradually, he took over tasks. He cleaned the space after closing times, ran the bar, and was entrusted with the evening’s revenue. George flourished, despite his ongoing drug addiction. Most importantly, he moved among non-homeless people and, unlike Theo outside the supermarket, had their recognition. The unavoidable had to happen, of course, and the Amsterdam authorities ordered the activists to leave after about two years. When George heard the news that eviction could not be averted any longer, he burst into tears.  This may be mere anecdotal evidence. But it provides enough contrast to the prevalent picture to illustrate how little it takes to keep homelessness in view and at least to suggest how effective this could be in breaking the paralysis along with the stigma of homelessness for the homeless person herself. That society is on the wrong track and has to be shown this fact about itself by stark contrasts is one of the central teachings of Diogenes of Sinope, one the most recognizable homeless people in history. He famously lived in a large grain jar in the marketplace of Athens, confronting the Athenians with his unusual way of life and his philosophical antics. One anecdote has him light a lamp in broad daylight and walk around the city with it. Asked what he was doing he replied “I’m looking for an honest man” (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 6.2.41; compare Nietzsche’s madman from Gay Science, bk III, §125). Another anecdote has him taking his breakfast in public, which went against Athenian custom. An unfriendly crowd gathered around him, accusing him of behaving like a dog. Diogenes retorted that the crowd behaved like dogs, watching him eat (DL 6.2.61). When he was captured and sold as a slave, and people asked him what he could do, he replied that he could be someone’s master (DL 6.2.29-30). Diogenes challenged society around him by turning their stereotypes and preconceptions upside down. The phenomenon of homelessness holds up a mirror to society. It shows us the limits of our freedom and our norms. It shows us that to be valued as a person, to be visible, is, among others thing, to fit what Foucault called the truth regime of capitalism: to be part of the circuit of production.  The notion of homelessness, then, is not only about a lack of shelter, but quite literally, a lack of home. The homeless are not only without shelter, they fail to find a home in our society In a series of articles, we will explore the notion of homelessness further through interviews, philosophical reflection, and literature.    Photo: Pablo van Wetten