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Wij zijn Woortmanplein - New Street Art Project for 5 May 2019

Having concluded production of a monumental wall by Colombian artist, Bastardilla, on April 2nd, Street Art Museum Amsterdam (SAMA) is excited to begin its next project at Joop Woortmanplein in the Aker region of Nieuw-West, to be completed for Vrijheidsmaaltijd celebrations on May 5th, 2019. The new work will connect the residents who use and live near the square to Joop Woortman’s memory as a member of the Dutch resistance during World War II, by compiling their ideas of hero and anti-hero in designing the piece. The project’s goal is to celebrate Woortman’s legacy and raise awareness of recent Dutch history through the theme of heroism and altruism – even when it is illegal.

A former taxi driver, Joop Woortman worked as a waiter during the war years, at the originally Jewish Royal Cinema on the Nieuwendijk. He was active in several branches of the Resistance in both subversive nonviolent and armed actions, drawing from his extensive professional network to obtain money, ration cards, goods, and safe houses for the Resistance and Jews avoiding deportation. Woortman is best known for the system he and his wife, Lena, devised to smuggle Jewish children from their Amsterdam Oost daycare out of the city to Limburg and beyond that, safety. Woortman was eventually betrayed by one of his former classmates in 1944, evading arrest until July, when he was deported to Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp and would eventually succumb to spotted fever in mid-1945.

The Woortman project will be painted on two walls and the door of the utility building located at the south-west corner of Joop Woortmanplein (it will not cover the AFRO piece located at the north-eastern corner of the square, next to the basketball court).

The design has been created through a two-month collaborative process between SAMA and local residents, and as always, SAMA has created opportunities for all demographics to contribute creatively to project development, from kindergarten-age children to pensioners. SAMA asked participants to describe or draw their ideas of heroes and anti-heroes, which SAMA’s creative team has compiled to create three scenes commemorating Woortman’s actions in the Resistance, and the children whose lives he saved.

Amsterdam City Hall commissioned SAMA to create the new mural to support an awareness campaign about his efforts as a resistor during the Second World War. In keeping with a five-year tradition of hosting May Fifth barbecues, SAMA will inaugurate the new piece at the Vrijheids maaltijd celebrations planned with the 4en5mei Committee. 2019 is the first year SAMA will be supporting rather than hosting the event but is still excited to bring the community together in a new way this year through live painting and inauguration of a piece they all contributed to creatively.

Production will begin late April and continue until May Fifth. Continue watching our blog and Instagram pages for continuing updates and developments.

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