Yulia Dolinina is SAMA's new team member, she is currently working on the formal registration of SAMA as a museum within the Netherlands. Here you can get to know Yulia and why she joined our team!
Where are you from? What are you doing in Amsterdam?
I am originally from Moscow, Russia and I live in Amsterdam since 2017. I moved here to study museology at the Amsterdam University of the Arts. After my recent graduation, I have decided to continue my life here, in Amsterdam, as a museum professional and art historian.
Can you tell me something about the place where you come from?
My hometown Moscow is a vibrant city, very 'pushy' and wide. The more it feeds you, the more it exhausts you. It's definitely the city of possibilities as any other capital. I lived there most of my life, both in suburbs (Odintsovo) and in the centre. Visually and mentally it is very different from Amsterdam. It is always busy and people are always 'in their bubble.' But when they are ready to socialise, relax and party – Moscow is the best place to be. It's full of gastronomic places, bars, clubs and cultural places that would match any taste.
What is your favourite activity/the things you like to do during your free time?
As I do not usually have a lot of free time, I always prefer to have a real quality time. I meet my friends, go dancing at parties, visit new museums and exhibitions, watch good movies, do sports such as tennis and yoga. I started to appreciate more long walks through the city, discovering new places, observing architectural ornaments, and looking for distinctive features of neighbourhoods. I love going to flea markets and search there for some antiques like old prints and porcelain. I worked before at a museum with old Dutch and Flemish prints and drawings and it's always an exciting game to find a print of value at the market that I can have a good deal on.
What fascinates you the most about the city? About Nieuw West?
For me, the most fascinating thing in Nieuw-West is the history of boroughs and urban planning in Amsterdam. It is fascinating to learn colonial and postcolonial history, the history of diversity, through urban planning and stories of particular buildings. For instance, Nieuw West is an interesting example. It unites several former boroughs: Slotermeer, Slotervaart, Geuzenveld, Ostdorp, Overtoom.
As a part of an urban extension plan of 1935, these were built mostly after the 1950s and designed through implementing the concept of the garden city. The concept implied well-planned and self-contained communities, belted by garden areas. The architect Cornelis van Eesteren planned these garden 'cities' for the middle class and for working-class that at the beginning of the 20th century was still living in the basements of the old canal houses, where once enslaved people lived. It became a place of a diverse community, as the new-comers, mainly from Turkey and Morocco, who were working on the reconstruction of postwar Holland have been living here. As the borough is far from the centre, since the 1990s these houses became empty and started being considered for demolishing. Regardless governmental plans for its gentrification, Nieuwe West stays super-diverse, rich-on-culture neighbourhood where residents truly know each other.
What is your relation to street art? Art in general?
I grew up in the suburbs of Moscow in the 1990s and I spent a lot of my free time as a teenager on streets being surrounded by the culture of rap, hip-hop, and street art. I have always been artistic and tried to do graffiti myself. I didn't like much to leave my marks on buildings as personally, it seemed too rebel and disruptive. But I liked to do sketches of graffiti in my notebooks and draw them digitally, on the Russian social media platform VK (Vkontakte), which is similar to Facebook. It had some illustration tools which allowed to post drawings on users' 'walls'- their profiles. So I was tagging my friends' walls and them – mine.
On the other side, I have always been attached to techniques and styles of classical art genres, as I've been always drawing and painting myself as a kid. My mom had a gallery and art supplies shops and I've been telling her that I would become an artist so she could sell my works at her shops. Instead, I became an art historian and studied histories and theories of all kinds of arts.
In your opinion what’s the most interesting aspect of Street Art?
For me, the most interesting part about street art is the power relations between the private and the public, the 'game' of claiming ownership. It is always defined by its immediate environment as a social and political commentary. Having in mind that is has always been an independent art form, today it is very interesting to see how institutions and collectors become more and more interested in working with all kinds of 'activist' art. It also becomes more popular among the general public and respected as an integral part of neighbourhoods' outlook. This interest boosts a gradual acceptance of this art form among institutions and this leads to the commissioning of street art. However, the most audacious and sharp art pieces are still being made as a commentary-in-opposition to various authoritative entities and powers.
What are your responsibilities at SAMA?
I have been invited by the director of SAMA, Anna Stolyarova, to research the collection of SAMA, prepare a strategy for its digitisation and prepare the SAMA's registration as a museum.
Do you have a favourite artist in the SAMA collection?
I would say that Bastardilla is one of my favourite artists represented by SAMA because of her powerful imagery and the use of clever metaphors.
What interests you the most in the concept of SAMA?
The collection of SAMA is a very rich and diverse contribution to the contemporary heritage of Amsterdam as it was and is being made by expats, or 'birds of a feather' you may say. It is being in a constant dialogue with the socio-cultural life of Amsterdam and with amsterdammers. It should be considered as its rapidly vanishing living-in-the-moment-heritage. It is in need to be digitally preserved and passed on to the future generations as somewhat fascinating time-capsules of our time.
Which artwork of the SAMA collection do you like the most?
Stylistically, the recent joint artwork by Daniela Fringia and Kiki Skipi 'WiP' (2020) is really close to my personality and taste, as well as Destiny (2013) by Skount.
Is there a connection between your scientific interests and your work at SAMA?
In my last thesis, I have dedicated to museal strategies and frameworks of the collectioning and documentation of intangible cultural heritage. The theme of my thesis was developed in the light of the acceptance by the Netherlands in 2012 the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. In the light of this Convention, museums think more frequently about immaterial aspects of our culture, about highlighting stories behind objects rather than the materiality itself. Museums must play a significant role in safeguarding such intangible culture as traditions, performing arts, embodied knowledge and skills. When we are talking about street art, it is frequently difficult to preserve its materiality. It is more important to preserve its immaterial aspect – skills related to its execution and ideas which led to its creation. The work that we are doing now at SAMA is about digitisation of artworks and experiences that these works bring.
What has been the most challenging moment during your time at SAMA so far?
The most challenging moment for us was when we've learned that due to Covid-19 public places in Amsterdam have to close down. We have to push even harder to stay connected with our international audiences, to keep sharing knowledge on our collection online and learn how to stay connected and bring joy only through digital media. Thankfully, our main collection is in the open air and accessible for anyone who is able to take a solo walk through the neighbourhood.