Public Art. Amsterdam

BOLD TOREN BOUWMATERIALEN

Strike a Pose – Wafae Ahalouch

Amsterdam, the magic center, art and counterculture 1967-1970

Schip van Slebos

De Appel

Het Bankje

Het Raam

De Oude Kerk

Het Stoepje

Licht

De Brug

De Brug

Ruimtestructuur

Het Zandkasteel en de Amsterdamse Poort

How to Kill a Tree, Edward Clydesdale Thomson

City Cells

Nelson Mandela

Monument tegen Apartheid en Racisme

DOE IETS / DO SOMETHING

Spanje Monument

De Muur

Gedenkteken Steven van Dorpel

De Grote Glijbaan

Yellow Wings

Dolle Mina

Man en Schaap

Hortus Botanicus

Portrait of Jan Pieterszoon Coen, J.L. Vreugde

Anton de Kom

Now, Speak!

Tayouken Piss

Monument Bijlmerramp

Sequin Monument

Mama Aisa

Zonder titel (Twee Schuine Naalden)

Nationaal Monument Slavernijverleden

Monument for Martin Luther King

Gloei!

Voor de Bijen

Industrieel Monument

The Black Archives

Tussentijd

Corned Beef

Sami

Brace for Impact, Node #6

Untitled (You Don’t Have To Be Here)

Staalmanplein

Wegwerphuisje

Groot Landschap

De 7 poorten

Klimmuur

De Kies

Black Waves

Tectona Grandis

Stapeling omlaag

Animaris Rhinoseros Transport

Tuinen van West

De Poort van Constant

Fietstunnel station Amsterdam CS

Noordbeeld

NDSM-Werf

Ontmoetingsplaats

IJ boulevard

ADM monument

De Ceuvel

NDSM-Werf

Observatorium

De Ceuvel

Gedenkteken Ataturk

Twee Beelden

Sunday Seminar Pay Attention Please! curating the city

Official Opening Pay Attention Please!

De Kost en de Baat

Van Eesteren Museum and Aldo van Eyck’s climbing frames

Constructie met I-balken, André Volten

Mirage, Tamás Kaszás

Rembo, Bastienne Kramer

Untitled, Margot Zanstra

Horse Chestnut, Amok Island

2 U’s naar buiten / 2 U’s naar binnen, Carel Visser

Opstandingskerk, Marius Duintjer

Cascoland

WOW Amsterdam

Leonard van Munster, Under Heaven 02

Lex Horn, Concrete relief Hendrik de Keyser

Het Wiel, Jeroen Henneman

Herbert Nouwens, Brettensuite

White Noise

De Wachter

Feestelijke Beelden (festive sculptures)

Your Life is Calling

Untitled

Primum movens ultimum moriens

11 Rue Simon Crubellier

Lady Solid

Opgelichte Stoeptegels

Ode to Mungus, Menhir Tower and Spire

Untitled (Hildo)

The First Turk Immigrant or The Nameless Heroes of The Revolution – Framer Framed

Amsterdam, the Magic Center Art and counterculture 1967-1970, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Monument for the White Cube – P/////AKT

Monuments to the Unsung – Framer Framed

wild care, tame neglect – Frankendael Foundation

GET LOST – art route, several artists

Ode to the Bijlmer – CBK Zuidoost

Untitled (You Don’t Have To Be Here) – De Appel

We should have a conversation (2018) – De Appel

Fiep van Bodegom

Roos van Rijswijk

Alma Mathijsen

Massih Hutak

Chris Keulemans

Rashid Novaire

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On 1 July 1863 the Netherlands was one of the last countries in Europe to abolish slavery. This day is celebrated every year with Ketikoti, the word for ‘broken chains’ in Sranantongo (one of the creole languages spoken in Surinam). Nevertheless, those who had been made slaves were forced to continue their hard, unpaid labour for another ten years. The bounty of three hundred guilders that was paid to the slave owners for each emancipated slave intensified the hunt for runaways in those years. Another celebration is the Day of the Struggle for Freedom. It is held on 17 August, the day in 1795 when more than two thousand people living in slavery on Curaçao revolted.

The first slavery monument in Amsterdam had to wait until 2002 to be unveiled. This work by the Surinamese artist Erwin de Vries represents the past, present and future. The thin figures chained to one another represent the slave past. A figure walks beneath an arch, breaking through the wall of resistance: the present. And in front, big, strong and glorious: the future. Freedom! De Vries called the making of the monument a spiritual experience. ‘I felt the pain of the slaves, including my ancestors. But I also felt their enormous strength’.

The monument was the result of a petition initiated by the Afro-European women’s movement Sophiedela. Many Dutch whose ancestors had been victims of slavery felt the need for recognition, because that recognition had been long in coming. On the day of the opening many Surinamese, Antilleans and other interested parties gathered on this spot for the unveiling. They were disappointed: they got no further than fencing covered in black plastic that prevented them from seeing anything. The ceremony took place behind the fencing in the presence of politicians, the Dutch Queen and invited guests. The people for whom the monument had been so pressing were not invited. The mood was agitated.

There was a further clash in 2005. None other than Rita Verdonk, Minister for Immigration and Integration at the time and notorious for her tough line on immigration, came to the National Slavery Monument to celebrate Ketikoti. Her political ideas were the embodiment of all that the monument stood against: discrimination, lack of freedom and viewing other cultures as inferior. She was not welcome, her speech was drowned by drumming, and she left the scene.

In 2008 Verdonk founded Proud of the Netherlands. This political party was created to restore the pride that she felt many Dutch had lost through attacks on the traditional celebration of St Nicholas with a black-faced helper and slavery monuments that were, in her words, ‘meant to portray us in a negative light’. Prime Minister Balkenende also spoke of pride in 2006. He coined the notorious term ‘VOC mentality’ with reference to Dutch entrepreneurship and its commercial mentality. It is a recurrent phenomenon in the remembrance of the colonial past: the selective approach with which a Dutch culture is associated with all the positive aspects of the Golden Age and distances itself from the negative ones. The Golden Age is seen as the crucible of Dutch identity. If so much pride can be taken in this period, why is a blind eye turned to the fact that the Dutch whose ancestors stood on the other side of that history always bear the legacy of that history?

‘Shared past, shared future’ are the words on a plaque on the side of the monument facing the Oosterpark. But the shared past has not yet been given form. The monument by Erwin de Vries seems to betray what we stand for. Real freedom lies somewhere in the future. The present is still only a small archway in the wall of resistance.

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