Mapping for Tourists blog
"All the basic things in life are design."
Born in Dubai, raised in Lebanon, and currently based in The Hague: KJ is leading the Noord design team. He tells us about his love for the performing arts, and the power of design.
Actually, all my life I was KhaJag. It wasn't until the very first day of university, that my teacher looked at my name and said: “I am never going to be able to pronounce that, so from now on you are going to be KJ.” She was Danish.
What are you doing in The Netherlands?
Cairo, the tale of love and hate.
Over a big plate of sushi, some green tea and lots of wasabi, we discussed Kareem's experience of Amsterdam, living in Cairo and feeling like a tourist.
This is your second time in Amsterdam. Is there anything that really stands out for you?
Amsterdam is quite different. It's a combination of a chaotic country and a very European country. In Germany I always felt like an outsider. Here, I kind of blend in. It has something to do with the fluid system, and all the different cultural layers. I remember coming by train from Germany. I fell asleep, and woke up because we had to get out due to a problem with the brakes. The Dutch travelers on the train were cool with the situation. I think that's because the system here is not as straight or square shaped as in most cou...
Homesick for Noord
We met with Lynn Amhaz, who is part of the Mapping for Tourists travel guide design team.
Can you tell me about your studies and how you got into graphic design and calligraphy?
I became more serious about it while working on my thesis. I tried to create an Arabic calligraphy in three months. At the same time I was exploring how computers and digital typography rob beautiful calligraphy of their unique characteristics. Arabic script is regarded as holy, because it is in the Qur'an. It has had a slow modern development. I really respect this type. I see letters as fluid shapes, as opposed to Latin-thinking, which considers English typeface as being static.
How does this affect your wor...
"In Noord it's still possible to find weirdness and irregularities."
Ghalia Elsrakbi, Lauren Alexander and Dirk Vis explain how they deal with populisme and the fairy tale creatures they come across in Noord.
You've been together for about a year now. Which project are you most proud of?
"Sunshine is the best Disinfectant". We heard about this competition related to the March elections here in The Netherlands, an attempt to create a creative counter-campaign against the populism of the Dutch right-wing. We have always been interested in the relationship between politics, media and art, so we thought it was a good idea to participate. And we won. We collected right wing quotes and slogans used by conservative parties, and transformed these xenophobic, fear-inducing slogans into more innocent statements concerning the we...
Together with Willem, Jans and Bas, the design team made a final selection of promotional posters. Each team member was photographed next to his/her personal favorite! The posters were to be found all over Amsterdam.
Bridges, wrestling and hardcore music.
A closer inspection of the various subcultures in Amsterdam-Noord.
You've had an office in Noord for six months now. Is it your first time in this part of the city?
That's true! We have a nice small office in the Tolhuistuin area. We decided to move there since we are very interested in Noord. In Noord a lot of things are still possible. It's not my first time on this side of the river, though. When I first moved to Amsterdam, I got an apartment in Noord. It was terrible! I was living in an apartment built for students that can't afford anything else, and/or have no chance to find another place. Students who just arrived in the city, workers from abroad, people just out of prison ...
Smoking peacocks, urbanibalism and snails
Over the years Wietske Maas has experimented and worked within several different cultural disciplines. Before working with Matteo Pasquinelli on the urbanibalism project, she studied taxidermy, wines and the visual arts. At the moment her focus lies on the natural edible resources that the urban topology has to offer its inhabitants.
Where does your fascination for food come from?
Isn’t food the most elemental thing... (laughs) No, I have always been interested in experimental gastronomy. I grew up in Tasmania, Australia where my father had his own hobby farm with lots of different birds walking around. He also built his own smoke-house which we used to smoke our own foods. This one time, a peacock flew through the kitchen window and died. My father proposed we smoke the peacock and eat it. It tasted rather special, not really my taste when I was a little kid. But it instigated my appetite for looking beyond the usual types of food.
My Burglar and Me
As a Rietveld student Kaweh's apartment was burglarized and his most valuable possessions were stolen. After finding out who did it, Kaweh's anger quickly turned into inspiration. He decided to make a documentary about his burglar.
Could you tell us what happened?
Both my backups and original files were on the computers that got stolen, so I lost all my work at once. Back then I lived in an old deserted factory in Noord with six other people. The night of the break-in me and my girlfriend were fast asleep. The next morning we got up only to see that both my laptop and desktop computer were missing. Despite the fact that we immediately started inquiring throughout the neighborhood, the burglar entered our home a second time and stole my neighbor's Iphone. A week later there was a third break-in. This time one of my housemates managed to lock t...
Connecting high and low culture through kebab.
Tunc Topcuoglu on the importance of roots, and being an outsider. "No longer trapped in a specific identity, you are forced to reconstruct yourself."
For Mapping for Tourists, you will track down the best Kebab in Noord. Why?
In my work I always try to combine high and low culture. In Turkey this is quite important. We miss the cultural base to relate to art. Everything is either reduced to extremely commercial pop culture, or elitist artistic avant-gard. They are unable to communicate with each other. The gap between high culture and low culture is immense. That’s why I have chosen kebab: everybody can relate to it, and has say something to say about it. I am using it as an image that allows me to communicate and easily get in touch with all different kinds o...
Snail hunt with Wietske Maas. September 8, 2010
We set up a giant sidewalk snail farm in the Mediamatic vitrines along Vijzelstraat in preparation for the Noord opening on Friday, September 10, 2010. All we needed was a little help.
Armies of school children were conscripted to collect snails from the dark hollows, and under the circumspect lettuce leaves around the volkstuin zones of Amsterdam Noord.
To collect even more snails, Wietske organized a snail hunt evening where snail experts and amateurs alike convened to hunt snails: luring them with beer and waiting for them to arrive, or actively looking under stones with a flashlight.
We met at Buitenzorg Volkstuin, Zamenhofstraat 41, Amsterdam-Noord, at 19:30. A snail expert told us some interesting trivia about the common garden snail and Wieske provided beer and containers for the snails. Participan...