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Street Art & Democracy - Upcoming exhibition

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

We are very happy to announce that Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst had awarded our Street Art Museum a grant for the new exhibition “Street Art & Democracy”.

Pipsqueak was here!! Amsterdam 2014. Photo Renee Zweet

The exhibition “Street Art & Democracy” presents the evolution of the street art in the context of the city of Amsterdam, from the first Street Art festival in 2010, to its current position. The outcomes of the project will be presented at a European conference about Street Art, called STAR (the acronym stands for STreet ARt).

The project ‘Street Art & Democracy’ offers a retrospective of the street art movement and its impact in Amsterdam over the past twelve years, from the first street art festival in Amsterdam organised in 2010 till the position that street art holds in Amsterdam today.

Street Art is a complex phenomenon, surrounded by parties with contradicting interests. The movement emerged from creatives fighting against commercialism and capitalism, making their art freely accessible to everyone. Contradictory, the growing interest in street art results in commercial galleries selling work by street artists, and museums selling tourists and the wider public street art as a cultural experience. Another contradiction is that housing corporations use street art temporarily to make a neighbourhood with expired buildings more attractive to real estate investors (gentrification), whilst street art enthusiasts and grass root organisations, such as SAMA, aim to preserve street art works for the future.

Uriginal Amsterdam, Amsterdam 2014. Photo Renee Zweet

The development of the Amsterdam street art movement will be presented in an multimedia overview from the point of view of different stakeholders, including museums, galleries, artists, the municipality, housing corporations and citizens.

‘Street Art & Democracy’ is the first multi-perspective showcase of street art initiatives in relation to Amsterdam's dynamics and its history. It aims to discuss the role of street art in the city of Amsterdam. From different perspectives we try to answer the central question: ‘What position does street art hold in today’s Amsterdam?’

'Street Art & Democracy' shall also serve as a starter-kit and a tool for further academic research and, most importantly, to inform and inspire visitors to the city, residents and culture makers. The participatory part engages the local youth with street art, and connects the older generation of established street artists to a new generation of Amsterdam citizens.

The opening of the exhibition and the production of the participatory street art performance both take place during the May 2022 STAR conference, which aims to build a network of towns with a common strategy to promote social inclusion, to foster intercultural dialogue and to reduce marginalisation of depressed and abandoned areas of European cities through street art. The exhibition and exhibition guide will be used to inform street art stakeholders in the EU about the Amsterdam street art scene, and the mural made with the public inspires them to actively include communities in street art productions.

On a local level, by publicly producing a street art mural involving active participation of the residents of Nieuw-West with Amsterdam street artists, we aim to encourage discussion on regeneration of Nieuw-West by using the power of its community in order to generate local identity, social inclusion and active citizen participation.


The project ‘Street Art & Democracy’ aims to produce the first overview of the street art movement in Amsterdam from 2010 (the first street art festival in Amsterdam) to 2022 (European Conference on best practices of street art as a tool for urban development) in collaboration with the city’s street art organisations and culture makers. In the three components of the project – exhibition, publication and live street art performance – participation and collaboration are taken as the core concepts. Created by and with people and organisations of Amsterdam, the multimedia exhibitionary project promotes the significance of street art in the city, its impact on contemporary urban culture and actively engages Amsterdammers and city’s visitors into a dialogue through cultural- educational activities. In short, SAMA produces in this project:

  • An exhibition on the street art movement in Amsterdam from 2010 to 2022, in Amsterdam Nieuw-West

  • An exhibition catalogue on the street art movement in Amsterdam from 2010 to 2022

  • A mural (street art) in Amsterdam-Nieuw West created by an Amsterdam based street artist and Amsterdam citizens

  • A presentation at the conference on Street Art in Amsterdam for European stakeholders

  • An ongoing dialogue about the position of street art in Amsterdam

Street art is a form of art which is rapid and volatile. Inherently it is not documented. The last 12 years have proven street art has matured as an art form and deserves better or more documentation. The European STAR conference offers the perfect moment to present an overview of street art and its initiatives in Amsterdam in the period of 2010-2022.

OVNI, R.U.A. project Amsterdam South-east, 2014. Photo Marco Buddingh

From individualistic acts of activist creativity of claiming urban spaces to market-driven productions of artistic identities for groups and localities. In this period, there have been established no less than 7 galleries and 3 Street Art museums as well as a number of festivals. These emerging and existing initiatives vary in their organisational structures from public to private, from individual to communal, in their approaches towards street art. Therefore, they create new directions and implications for the development of the art movement and offer various modes of looking at the movement. While the street art movement has gained its integral presence in the cultural offer of Amsterdam-based organisations, this would be the first collaborative project seeking to produce an overview of the street art scene in Amsterdam with an active involvement of Amsterdammers.

This collective show of voices and perspectives presented in the exhibition and catalogue would echo the true ethics and identity of the Democratic Street Art movement, as it is today, 12 years after the first Street Art Festival in June 2010, and show Amsterdam city as one of the world champions and pioneers in giving it a respectful space. The twelve years mark that street art in Amsterdam has come to an age.

Ard Doko, in GO Gallery Amsterdam 2021

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