guerilla expo

author: Ed, Autonoom Centrum - 27.08.2002 21:54

At the end of september the Autonoom Centrum and De Vrije Ruimte are organising a Guerrilla Expo 1 named 'free city'.Date: 08-24-02 17:35


 Guerrilla Expo. 1: FreeCity

The shared, embattled city

Amsterdam presents itself as a tolerant, dynamic, creative, multicultural, high-tech metropolis. A city with international allure, where the new cosmopolitan middle-class is working in the areas of media, culture, art, leisure time and tourism, in which they can freely live, consume and relax (lounge). Architectural highlights, tidied-up public spaces and high level public utilities must make the city attractive for international companies and consumer civilians.
Behind this image presented in tourist folders and suchlike hides a different reality. Because of the rise of this new middle-class, other groups are being pushed out of the city centre and the 19th century-areas. Also, through international data streams, immigrants flow into the city, invading from all over the world. These underpaid and often illegalized employees are providing the comfort and pleasure for this new middle class to exist, as well as giving the city her colourful presence. This multicultural society is being appreciated as long it presents itself in exotic stores and colourful parties. The moment it leads to any "distracting" behaviour, different to the imposed "normal" ways as defined by the Amsterdam image, and the norms and values dictated within this image are disturbed, the tolerance moves aside for law & order. Not only for immigrants, but also for members of subcultures, stray cats, bums and other people who live a life different from the defined "normal.? While creativity is appreciated, it has to fit into the image that the city has of itself, and preferably serve the purpose of the free market economy. There is also space for different opinions, as long as they are expressed at the appropriate ?normal? place and time.

In this shared city, the inhabitants give their daily life shape from their own needs, wishes and expectations. They are meanwhile battling for their own space, because they differ in the way they choose their path, not necessarily following the one laid out for them, and thereby crossing borders and trespassing into forbidden territories. The Guerrilla Expo ?the shared/embattled city' wants to exhibit this post-modern metropolis. How do people move through the city, which boundaries are being crossed and in which ways do people (consciously or unconsciously) seek confrontation with the ruling authorities?
With this we want to show that the conquering of one?s own space does not only possess 'sympathetic' moments of emancipation, but also causes radical, and from some perspectives, negative fractures. In the embattled city, for example, we see Moroccan senior women claiming a tea-house for themselves, as well as white youths spray-painting swastikas on a mosque. Also we see Moroccan kids climbing the national monument at the Dam during a demonstration against the war in Palestine - a moment of rejection of, or emancipation from, 'Dutch' normality by a marginalized group - and at the same time storming the Krasnapolsky Hotel, just because it has a Jewish name.


These tensions between the shared and embattled city are taken as the core subjects for this exhibition. Because these tensions seem to surface the moment an event breaks the boundaries of everyday life, we want to connect this exposition to the squatting of a building in the centre of town. The space for the exhibition will be squatted for a week. In the middle of the free market violence, the space needs to create an oasis of deviant behaviour, creativity and freedom, in order to make consumer-oriented Amsterdam -inhabitants and tourists alike - realize that the city is more than just a shopping paradise. The action squat is not merely a remedy for a cheap gallery space, but has a direct relationship with the content of this exhibition. The Guerrilla Expo seeks to literally fracture the city?s structure, but due to its inviting composition will also meld with her environment. The continuing process of the shared and embattled city will come into the character of the exposition in this way.


The aspects of the shared/embattled city are complex and all-encompassing. To give this a little more direction, we have chosen to focus specifically on four themes. The themes are not to be viewed as a limitation, but as a source of inspiration to which new elements can be added. It is also possible to introduce new themes.

Amsterdam city Inc.

Amsterdam is being seen more and more as a corporation, evident in the way the city is run and large interests in it are being sold. This determines to an important degree the city?s landscape and social-cultural development.

Ideas for working with this theme.

Amsterdam city senses:

The image that people have of a city is not only being determined by social causes, but also by the conscious and unconscious observations of the senses. Also in this reality of the city we find confrontations and entanglements that can give at times very strong impressions.

Ideas for working with this theme.

Amsterdam city culture:

The city as a multicultural stage is the very broad perspective of Amsterdam society presented also as the "happy melting-pot." At the same time Amsterdam is a caricature of this stage where ethnic differences are the main cause of being excluded.

Ideas for working with this theme.

Amsterdam controlling everything

The controlling of city life is making sure that only the preferred norms of city behaviour are possible. People who don?t live up to these norms, like homeless people for instance, are not wanted at certain spots, and are being removed. Big groups of junkies are being banned from the inner city in an attempt to ?clean it up? for tourists.

Ideas for working with this theme.


For some time a team of 7 people have been preparing this exhibition. Now the time has come to attract more people who want to join this project. We would like to invite you to contribute to the expo. You could work on any of the abovementioned themes or an aspect of one of them. You?re free to connect these themes or create new themes and work on them on your own or with others. You have complete freedom in the shape you choose for your part, although our preferences lean towards a fine arts exhibition and we want to avoid long amounts of text.
The Guerrilla Expo is going to take place some time in September, partly depending on when we will be able to squat an appropriate location for the expo. We are hoping to have all the individual contributions in by the end of August.

We would like to meet with everyone interested and exchange ideas??

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