Ayman Ramadan

Crossing the Water

I flew into Amsterdam from Noord Copenhagen in the middle of the night on July 3rd. Someone from Mediamatic picked me up from the train station and took me to the flat where I'd be staying. Amsterdam is like the Venice of the North, it is crisscrossed with canals and rivers, and to get to the north side of the city, we had to take a ferry.


Footsteps in Noord - Ayman Ramadan

I hate water and, by extension, anything related to water, including boats and ferries. I can’t swim and I don’t want to learn how. My companion told me that to get to the centre of the city, I would have to take this ferry each time. I had visions of myself stuck forever in my new flat. There was no way I would be able to take this boat again.
But it turned out that I would be taking the ferry again within a matter of minutes. After dropping my things off at the new flat, I accompanied my colleague home and went to the city centre to pick up a few things and get a feel for the city. The energy was electric; everything was open, young kids were wandering around stoned and drunk; it was both exhilarating and overwhelming all at once.

Exhausted by the trip and my new surroundings, I took the ferry back to “my” part of the city, only to realize that I couldn’t remember what street the house was on. I didn’t have anyone to call for help, but I remembered that there was a couch outside on the street in front of the flat, and that our apartment building had a box of rat poison on the doorstep. I was able to navigate my way home by way of these ephemeral landmarks.
I realized on this first day that these small elements of detritus were more than just the discarded remnants of something that used to be important, or something that used to serve a purpose, but didn't any longer. They continued to serve as subtle signposts, markers of great significance for those who knew how to read them. Signposts that could help you get across what at first appeared to be unnavigable waters.