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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People seem to grasp intuitively that sculptures play an important part in the process of decolonisation. Even when they are dated, they are not regarded as innocent from the moment that their symbolism goes out of favour. For instance, in the capital it was the Van Heutsz monument in South Amsterdam that was the target of the Provos (a Dutch counterculture movement in the 1960s). They wrote slogans like ‘colonialism = capitalist fascism’ on the monument and even placed a bomb there. Under the pressure of constant criticism, in 2001 the name of the monument was changed into the neutral Dutch East Indies Monument and a critical plaque was added. The statue of Van Heutsz, a notorious general who applied harsh measures in the colony of the Dutch East Indies at the beginning of the twentieth century, was removed.

In the United States various statues of proponents of slavery were taken down and destroyed in 2017. Was this anger really directed at the insensitive bronze? Can a human foot inflict more pain on it than it receives? It is not the statues, and certainly not the fallen heroes, but the ideas that get trampled on. They are the figureheads of an ideology, so pulling them down or daubing them with paint creates a perfect visual struggle. In the pulling down of the statue of Saddam Hussain that the US forces staged in Baghdad in 2003, and in the pulling down of statues at the end of regimes all over the world, we see that photographs of the scene play a major and iconic role in the changing of the ideological guard.

Compared with the United States or neighbouring Belgium, for example, the Netherlands has a relatively small tradition of heroes on pedestals in the public space. The enormous tangle of street names called after people whom we often no longer recognise is less suitable for a symbolic struggle. But besides this complex discussion, there is also room for new works of art. While a critical debate goes on about the tenability of the old symbols, new symbols ae created at the same time. Besides removing statues, placing critical texts or erecting counter-monuments, such as a Monument against Apartheid and Racism on this same square, this is yet another way of making room for ideologies. New works of art can honour heroes whose stories may be an example for the struggle against racism and segregation.

The mosaic of Nelson Mandela on the corner of the Pretoriusstraat in the Transvaalbuurt is one of the new symbols. Beside it is a large placard with the words ‘Unity in Diversity’, one of the pronouncements of the first Black president of South Africa, who dedicated his life to dismantling the system of apartheid. The two parts of this work were placed by Steffen Maas in 2015 on a commission by the Eigen Haard housing association and in collaboration with local residents and the Museum without Walls, an initiative to chart the history and stories of the Transvaalbuurt. The residents chose a tribute to Mandela as a symbol for the neighbourhood. Maas sees the freedom fighter as the universal face of a peaceful society. The work has been composed as a mosaic of little wooden shields. The locals involved in devising and implementing this enormous project wrote their names on the back of them.

 

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