Bint el Dunya
Amsterdam-Noord serves as a pars pro toto for The Netherlands. Apart from the pivots of Dutch culture - Hema, Bakker Bart, roundabout art and cargo bikes - it houses provincial polders, conventional townhouses, and the well-known Dutch multiculturalism. But is Noord just like any other place? Not really. It is conflicting and heterogeneous, but at the same time has a strong sense of solidarity and camaraderie. It is one of the most undiscovered, and therefore exciting locations of The Netherlands.
Being the testing ground of a large city has its pros and cons. Since the nineties, artists and cultural entrepreneurs have been working on turning Noord into a vibrant cultural area, attracting nomadic artists and media companies alike. But Noord also has the highest unemployment rate, and the highest percentage right wing voters. Noord harbors top politicians, working class single moms, and the largest Egyptian community in The Netherlands. Whether it's a town of its own, or a peripheral city borough, Noord is unmistakably a conflicted area.
In collaboration with independent curator Nat Muller, Mediamatic figured it was about time Noord was thoroughly explored. Despite being part of a large city, Noord is more representative of The Netherlands than it is of Amsterdam. Therefore it has had to work hard to prove itself, fighting failed gentrification and urban renewal projects. Turning to Cairo, capital of tourism, Mediamatic invited young Arabic artists to shed their light on Amsterdam-Noord. Nicknamed Umm el Dunya, Cairo is considered the 'mother of the world'. Not unlike Noord, she too is undergoing a metamorphosis, and is trying to shake off her wearisome reputation. Noord is her adopted daughter: Bint el Dunya.
Mapping for Tourists
A conglomerate like Noord deserves a motley crew of researchers. Joining the artists from Cairo is a group of graphic designers from Cairo's northern neighbor Beirut, known for producing some of the best designers in the field. Dutch artists with a flair for mapping, knowledge of socio-geography, or a love for Noord, have joined the Arabic artists in their quest to research the visible and invisible aspects of the city borough. Ranging from synchronized swimmers to giant frogs and snail farms, over the summer the artists have mapped the unique location, and have produced fresh new work.
Noord has been a friend to many, and a challenge to most. Exploring the 'daughter of the world', the artists soon realized Noord was not an easy place to come to grips with. Free in their choice of medium, the artists' work will result in an interdisciplinary exhibition, and in the first Arabic travel guide to The Netherlands. Mediamatic, as well as local and international artists, will initiate events, inviting people to join into the discovery of Noord.
The exhibition opened on September 10, and will run until November 9. Location is Mediamatic Bank. Participating artists from abroad are Ganzeer, Malak Helmy, Mahmoud Hamdy, Ayman Ramadan, Kareem Lotfy, and Ahmed Kamel. The local artists include Sarah van Sonsbeeck, tunctunctunc, Foundland (Ghalia Elsrakbi, Lauren Alexander, Dirk Vis), Golfstromen (Joop de Boer en Jeroen Beekmans), Melle Smets, Jan Rothuizen, Wietske Maas, and Malkit Shoshan. Visit this page for more information about the participants.
The travel guide combines the results of the artists' research with practical information about the peripheral borough. The tourist design team consists of Khajag Apelian aka KJ, Lara Balaa, Lynn Amhaz, and Engy Aly. The travel guide was printed tabloid format, and was distributed along with Het Parool on September 10. With a circulation of 80.000, Het Parool is Amsterdam's number one newspaper. The travel guide is also available at Mediamatic Bank, Vijzelstraat 68 Amsterdam.
Willem Velthoven (director)
Jans Possel (director)
Femke Vos (project manager)
Amber Verstegen (project assistent)
Ista Boszhard (research team)
Julia Luczywo (research team)
Tommy Vermeire (research team)
Alberto Marchioretto (reporter)
Justin Linds (reporter)
Bas van den Broeke (communications)
Dido Reijntjes (communications)
Evelyn Austin (web-editor)
Ingunn Jonsdottir (exhibition)
Lars Wannop (graphic design)
Martine Posthuma de Boer (funding)
Nat Muller (research Cairo, preparatory phase, Map Fest)
Anne Margriet van Dam (travel guide editor)
Eva Spijker (research team)
Sebastiaan Klaasen (research team)
The opening of the exhibition and the launch of the travel guide were on September 10. The exhibition runs until November 9, at Mediamatic Bank, Vijzelstraat 68, Amsterdam. Weekdays open from 13:00 - 19:00, and on the weekends from 13:00 - 18:00 hrs. Entrance fee is € 3,-
Noord is made possible by:
Mondriaan Foundation, Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture (FondsBKVB), DOEN Foundation, VSBfonds, Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsdeel Noord, Ymere and Netherlands Embassy in Cairo.