Hello! My name is Karen Ndjeudji
Where are you from? What are you doing in Amsterdam?
I come from Epinay-Sur-Seine, a town near Saint-Denis, in Paris suburb. After working in communication and advertising agencies I decided to leave my job to pursue a more committed career. Amsterdam is another step to reach my goal, after a trip to several African countries and the resumption of my postgraduate studies last year.
Can you tell me something about the place where you come from?
My parents, both native from Cameroon, built our family there, and even if I appreciate moving a lot since my first studies’ part, there has always been something which brings me to this area where I grew up. Epinay-sur-Seine is a city in the Seine-Saint-Denis district, which has always been known for its working-class neighbourhoods and which have always been negatively shown in the media.
And yet how I love this part of the Paris region! I think I appreciated the citizens first. To my mind, the best representation of what is France nowadays: these French peoples for the most part from elsewhere, who enjoy sharing a part of themselves. I can also tell you about these wild parties held in wastelands or people's homes (you never know in advance) until dawn, the delicious restaurants, the parks… I can’t finish without mentioning the architecture: this combination of these large buildings and historical monuments representative of our history.
What is your favourite activity/the things you like to do during your free time?
I don’t have a specific favourite activity that I like to do during my free time. I’m curious so I like to discover and to learn a lot. I appreciate going to museums and seeing exhibitions. The last that I saw was named Faire Corps from Adrien M. and Claire B. at the Gaîté Lyrique, a museum specialised in the digital arts in Le Marais (a parisian district).
I like to play piano even though all these years I’m always playing with two left hands! I like to meet my friends and enjoy the beautiful Parisian terraces or discover alternative places and go partying. I also like to wander through certain districts of Paris and come across what I call little nuggets, those finds that make you happy for the day. During my time in Amsterdam, I’ve decided to learn the roller-dance - I also came with my roller skates under my arm. To my great surprise, I found here an old camera that I had been looking for a long time in Paris, so I intend to try to immortalise my trip with this silver camera.
What fascinates you the most about the city? About Nieuw West?
When I planned to come to Amsterdam for this program, I had the idea that I'll be fascinated by the architecture and by people that I imagined with a big open mind, smiling every time and hospitable, friendly persons. But after a few weeks here, of course the city is always a source of pleasure but I begin to understand the social complexity of how the city is built and how it splits its citizens. It really seems to me like Paris and its suburbs. That's why I think I'm exciting to discover more of this unknown side, away from tourists.
What is your relation to street art? Art in general?
I don’t have a specific relation with street art. I grew up with this art form all around me: graffiti, collages, stencils are very present in Paris and its suburbs. But nowadays it seems to me that street art is more assumed, claimed... or maybe simply more tolerated than it was at the time. When I lived in Paris, often on Saturdays I enjoyed looking at this wall where every beginning of the month an artist is allowed to leave his mark on, Oberkampf street.
When I was little, my parents enrolled me at the conservatory. It was at that time that I began to be sensitised to art - through music and dance. Nowadays, my curiosity, some friends' works permit me to nourish this relationship I have with art.
One of my favourite museums in Paris stay the Musée d’Orsay, for these collections dedicated to impressionism but moreover because of the place, this former station which stays a crossing point and this big these immense clocks crossed by the light of the outside.
In your opinion what’s the most interesting aspect of Street Art?
To my mind, the most interesting aspect of Street Art, is the re-appropriation of urban space. More and more the urban projects are similar, at least in France and Paris. By the way, to give you my thinking, I think of this area at the canal level of Saint-Denis that I used to cross. This area is the object of many rehabilitation projects, but a part of the canal marked by street art is the symbol of the essence of the city's inhabitants. This wall is the voice of the voiceless. In my opinion, street art is not just a tool for claiming, it is also a street dressing that allows us to focus our attention on places or simply on our environment to which we no longer usually pay attention.
What are your responsibilities at SAMA?
The Erasmus+ program gives me the opportunity to work with the SAMA in communication policy. I will help the team to determine a communication strategy for the events coming and the branding. I must be able to use my skills as a project manager in communication to best help the association in its choices and projects. My skills as a press relations officer will allow me to support SAMA in its public relations strategy.
Do you have a favourite artist in the SAMA collection?
I really like the Btoy and his collection in SAMA. In addition to appreciating his complex technics, to use most stencils. I like this project because it gives a special place to women and moreover because Btoy chose some of the greatest ladies, who are for the most forgotten nowadays.
What interests you the most in the concept of SAMA?
When I became aware of the project of the museum as a place of culture of social utility, I immediately thought that collaborating with SAMA would suit me.
I grew up in an environment that seems to resemble Nieuw West, and I think it is fundamental to establish in the working-class districts places of culture that are at the same time places of claim for the population, with projects that concern them and in which they can find themselves. I also think it's important to break the glass ceiling that exists. To show that culture is an enrichment accessible to all.
Finally, from a public point of view, these places allow cities or neighbourhoods to be illuminated in a positive way and participate fully in the evolution of the city.
Which artwork of the SAMA collection do you like the most?
I think one of my favourite artworks are from StinkFish. It's really nice to be illuminated by all the colours used and their energy. Moreover, the places where the artwork communicate with the locations very intelligently, for example with SMILE - when it isn't raining and when there is the shining across the building.