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Street Art & Democracy - Closing Article

The project Street Art & Democracy has come to an end, but the dialogue on street art doesn’t end here.


Let’s look back at what we did:


Exhibition

In ‘Street Art & Democracy’ we looked back at 12 years of street art in Amsterdam, taking the first street art festival in Amsterdam in 2010 as a starting point. Through research, interviews, and mapping, SAMA documented and presented important initiatives on street art in Amsterdam. As part of the introduction to the exhibition we made a video mash up with a variety of street art projects from different parties, organised since 2010 in Amsterdam.

The art and objects on display in the exhibition showed initiatives from the past, as well as current street art (2010-2022). The exhibition showed a poster of the first street art festival in Amsterdam, organised by ASA (Amsterdam Street Art) in 2010. Objects, stickers and photos represent that ASA since them developed into an organisation initiating and taking on a wide range of projects, varying from commissioned work for commercial businesses to social street art projects.


The second pioneering street art producer presented in the exhibition was R.U.A. - Reflexo on Urban Art, showing a photo of one of their projects in the South-east district in Amsterdam. The work of national established street artist Hugo Kaagman was presented next to the work of the more anonymous and upcoming Amsterdam artist Keys-Art. Kaagman showed a stool with stencil graffiti in ‘Delfts Blauw’ style, and Keys-Art made an artwork on the occasion of the exhibition. The exhibition also presented artist materials used by the Amsterdam artist duo Pipsqueak was here!!! That they’ve used on a participative mural as part of the project.

The Amsterdam GO Gallery and O.D. Gallery selected an art work of their choice for the exhibition: the GO Gallery chose a canvas by Ard Doko, a young Dutch artist who they’ve coached and support. And the O.D. Gallery chose an artwork of a Portuguese street artist, because they present mainly international artists.


The exhibition also showed the three different museum on street art in Amsterdam: SAMA (2012) with an open air collection in the Nieuw-West district, MOCO (2016) located in a historic high end cultural environment showing art by well-known street artists, and STRAAT (2020) presenting its collection in a former factory located on the experimental and creative urban NDSM area in the north of Amsterdam. But museums are not the only ones collecting or documenting street art. Street art hunters are enthusiasts that document street art with their photo camera, and share it on social media. The exhibition showed a selection of photos of Amsterdam street art documented over the past decade by street art Hunter René Zweet. Most photographed pieces in the Amsterdam street art hot spots are painted over by (many) other pieces.


Publication

The publication Street Art & Democracy served as an exhibition guide and a starter-kit for further research on street art. We interviewed street art producers, artists, galleries, museums, a street art hunter and various stakeholders. They looked back at the developments of street art in the past decade and share their perspective on the role of street art today. The contributions to the publication offer an interesting retrospective of street art over the last decade, and it also offers food for thought on the role of street art today, and even in the future.


Presentation at EU-Conference

SAMA hosted the European street art conference STAR. Thirty people from 14 different countries participated in the conference and learned from each other's experiences, and exchanged thoughts on practising and developing street art in the marginalised neighbourhoods in which the parties operate. A visit to the exhibition Street Art & Democracy was an important part of the programme.

Ongoing dialogue

An online platform was set up as part of the exhibition, It offered the opportunity for visitors to join the conversation on street art, and the street art map invited people to further explore street art. Also, the project stimulated the University of Amsterdam (Bachelor Cultural Studies) and the Breitner Academy to discuss street art and its role in society as part of their study programme.


Let’s look forward

SAMA will continue to research street art, and we hope you will continue to explore street art in Amsterdam and keep the dialogue going!



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