My name is Paige Foley and I am new to the Street Art Museum Amsterdam’s curatorial team, where I specialize in cultural heritage.
Originally from Calgary, Canada, I made the big move to Amsterdam in 2016. I held a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Calgary, but found myself more interested in the ways in which we interact with the past in the present day; the role that monuments and museums, for instance, play in the construction and evolution of personal and collective identities. Wanting to further investigate these concepts, I stumbled upon the Master of Arts program in Heritage & Memory Studies at the University of Amsterdam The rest, as they say, is history!
I’ve spent most of my life in my hometown of Calgary, Alberta - a large city nestled between the western prairies and the Rocky Mountains. While many of the people I meet in Amsterdam are not familiar with the name, Calgary is unique in that we have a very lively downtown, with incredible modern architecture (such as the Bow, Studio Bell, and most recently the New Central Library) and live music. We embrace our ‘prairie’ identity with images, slogans and festivals riddled with cowboys, horses and lassos; and yet we are also incredibly proud of our closeness to the Rocky Mountains. In a short drive you can reach the most scenic views - pristine forests, icy blue glacial lakes, all types of wildlife and mountain peaks that take your breath away.
In my free time, I enjoy going for walks around the streets of Amsterdam. No matter how many times I go for a wander, there is always new shops, cafes and street-art to be discovered. Of course, as a cultural heritage enthusiast, I love to visit the museums here in Amsterdam; the Tropenmuseum in particular holds a special place in my heart!
I am fascinated by Amsterdam for endless reasons. For one, there is always something unique happening in the city. Festivals, markets, alternative events, music - there is never an excuse to be bored here! But moreover, I appreciate Amsterdam as a place of diversity. There are so many cultures (and therefore, incredible restaurants) to explore within the city, and the buzzing expat community makes it a lot easier to transition to Amsterdam life.
I myself am currently a resident of Nieuw-West. The somewhat nasty reputation this area has garnered over the years has not be representative of my experience. I enjoy the ‘garden city’ concept exemplified by the area, and the ability to live in a peaceful and quiet area with convenient access to the inner city. I also find it a real privilege to live in such a multicultural community, which to me is most illustrative of the ‘real’ Amsterdam.
Top 3 Images: Street-Art in Shoreditch, London. Photos by Author, 2019.
Bottom 2 images: Street-Art in Teufelsberg, Berlin. Photos by Author, 2017.
Before joining the team here at SAMA, my relation to street-art was perhaps more of a curiosity than anything else. Generally when I travel, one of my favourite things to do is seek out street art, not only because it’s a free activity, but also because I find it’s a great way to understand the locale in which I’m visiting - the politics, the histories and, of course, the identities. I think this is perhaps the most interesting aspect of street art - it’s a mirror of the community itself.
The reason that I came to SAMA was that I wanted to be a part of a grass-roots museum initiative. I’ve always been incredibly fascinated by open-air museums, and I think SAMA is doing something very unique to the museum world. Particularly at this point in time, wherein SAMA is exploring the opportunities presented by Virtual Reality technology to preserve, archive and disseminate SAMA’s collection. This presents an invaluable opportunity for a young heritage professional such as myself to see firsthand the role of VR in the cementation of something that is temporary, by its very nature, in collective memory. Additionally, as the SAMA team is composed of young specialists in various fields, I am incredibly enthused to broaden my knowledge base and learn from their experiences.
My task at SAMA is provoke further inquiry into the heritage value of SAMA’s collection, and to promote further discussion of the role of street art in the larger discourses of heritage and cultural memory. I hope to contribute exciting pieces to the blog, touching on themes such as identity, place-making, authenticity, accessibility, cultural tourism and many others!
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