Marjetica Potrc and Wilde Westen welcome you to join the house warming party taking place on Saturday 18th April 2009, in Lodewijk van Deysselstraat 61, from 15.30 to 19.00. Read also what our friends of Freestate SWOMP are saying about us!
Marjetica Potrc and Wilde Westen 18 April to 5 September 2009 Amsterdam Nieuw West
The Cook, the Farmer, His Wife and Their Neighbor, a participatory project by the Slovene artist and architect Marjetica Potrc and Wilde Westen - a group of young designers, architects and cultural producers -, combines visual art and social architecture to redefine the village green. Community vegetable gardens become a tool by which the residents of Amsterdam Nieuw West reclaim ownership of their neighbourhood at a time when demolition and redevelopment are causing many to feel uprooted. In the 1950s, the garden city of Nieuw West was constructed on former farmland as a modernist project; today this Amsterdam suburb is one of the largest residential redevelopment sites in Europe. With their project The Cook, the Farmer, His Wife and Their Neighbour, Potrc and Wilde Westen, in collaboration with the residents of the multicultural Geuzenveld-Slotermeer district, reflect on this history and celebrate a return to local food production. Here, farming and cooking are viewed as a way for people to share knowledge and traditions, and a means for the cultural renewal and rebirth of the neighbourhood. Beginning April 18, 2009, the house at Lodewijk Van Deysselstraat 61, in Slotermeer, will be a meeting point open to the Cook, the Farmer, his Wife and their Neighbours, friends and guests, as well as those involved in the many local initiatives already taking place in Nieuw West. The project is realized in collaboration with Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, within the initiative Stedelijk Goes West.
The Cook, the Farmer, his Wife and their Neighbor is a collaborative project in the Nieuw West neighborhood of Amsterdam; initiated by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, it was designed and organized by Marjetica Potrč and Wilde Westen, a group of architects, artists, designers and cultural producers. The project consists of a community vegetable garden and a community kitchen, which are used by residents of the neighborhood and which, we hope, will remain in place even after the Stedelijk program comes to an end in September. We see the opening of the project on April 18 as the start of a process of transformation for the neighborhood: the garden and the kitchen provide the people who live in the area with a way to redefine their relationship to public space and the public sphere. A previously unused site at Lodewijk van Deysselstraat 61 was acquired on a temporary basis from the Far West construction company; the building that houses the community kitchen also serves as a meeting place, and the vegetable garden is located behind the kitchen.
A grant from the Netherlands Architecture Fund allows us to present the community garden and kitchen as a case study in a publication that re-imagines the role of green spaces in the Dutch garden city, a modernist planning model developed in the postwar years. The project has tremendous potential: not only are we working closely with residents to redefine the public space, but we are also acting as mediators between residents and the municipality authorities to change the way public space is perceived and managed in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam’s Nieuw West neighborhood is a famous modernist development that was conceived by architect Cornelis van Eesteren before World War II but constructed after it. Today, immigrants from Turkey and Morocco account for more than half of area’s population. The problems and challenges the neighborhood faces are the same as those of aging modernist residential developments throughout the European Union – in particular, unemployment and the non-integration of recent arrivals. Nieuw West is, moreover, one of the largest residential redevelopment areas in the EU, a situation that has led to the continual resettlement of families: when immigrants are forced to move a second time, it becomes especially difficult for them to build community. The vegetable garden helps give residents a sense of connection to place as they work the land in a neighborhood that experiences constant population shifts. Both the garden and the community kitchen create bonds within the community (residents give the kitchen half of their produce from the garden) and become a catalyst for transforming not only the public space but also the community itself.
A mere half-century ago, the area of Nieuw West was farmland. The postwar modernist garden city included large green public spaces, which, however, eventually turned into no-man’s lands, dividing and alienating the residents. Some of the green spaces were fenced off and the residents were not permitted to enter them, thus signaling the death of modernist planners’ ideal of a shared democratic space. The project The Cook, the Farmer, his Wife and their Neighbor opens one of these fenced-off yards to residents, who reclaim the space by growing vegetables on its land. The project uses horticulture and the different cuisines of the multicultural neighborhood to create stronger community ties and build firmer relationships between the residents, the space, and the greater society.
On a larger scale, the project redefines the relationship between rural and urban knowledge. After the predominant status of urban culture in the late twentieth century, societies today are redefining the urban–rural relationship for a variety of reasons. The European Union faces challenges that arise from the aging of the population and increasing migration. The old administrative unit of the national state, a concept inherited from the nineteenth century, is being transformed into regions with the emphasis on the local. More generally, the EU, like the rest of the world, is having to develop strategies that address global warming and, most recently, the economic crisis of 2008. All these things demand the involvement of citizens in redefining the social contract and creating a new understanding of citizenship.
The Cook, the Farmer, his Wife and their Neighbor is an example of both “redirective practice,” where people from various disciplines and backgrounds come together to forge new knowledge, and “participatory design,” in which the people who are most directly affected – the residents of Nieuw West – are themselves involved at all stages of the project’s development. The project brings together neighborhood residents, individuals and groups (Marjetica Potrč, Wilde Westen, and many other organizations), and institutions (the Stedelijk Museum, Far West, the Netherlands Architecture Fund, etc.); by being involved in the project they create positive change in the neighborhood and redefine how we live together. We look forward to seeing the project develop and expand to other communities in Amsterdam and beyond. It’s all about social architecture!
Marjetica Potrč, May 2009
Marjetica Potrc studied in her native city of Ljubljana, first as an architect and later as a visual artist. Her way of working follows a movement in the art world that places an emphasis on interactivity and participation, often with a social orientation. In recent years, she has carried out projects in Caracas (Venezuela), Rajasthan (India) and New Orleans (USA). She often works in collaboration with local communities and usually focuses on daily life in the city, on living and infrastructure. Potrc seeks out practical solutions for everyday problems, such as water and electricity supply. One example of her approach is the “Dry Toilet”, which she developed in informal city of Caracas, is one of a series of community-focused on-site projects by Potrc that are characterized by participatory design and a concern with sustainability issues, particularly in relation to energy and water infrastructures. Her preparatory drawings increasingly form an important part of her oeuvre; she has been invited by Daniel Birnbaum to display a large selection of her drawings at the Venice Biennale this year. Potrc won the prestigious Hugo Boss Prize in 2000 and exhibited her work in the accompanying exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. --- Wilde Westen
Wilde Westen is a collective group of young designers, architects and cultural producers. By combining different disciplines they initiate open, dynamic and participatory processes that respond to urban and social needs of cities in transition. Their interdisciplinary work is focused on reactivating urban spaces by involving inhabitants in order to reimagine urban renewal and how we live together]. Their latest project is The Cook, the Farmer, his Wife and their Neighbor, which is realized in collaboration with Marjetica Potrc and is about a community garden and a community kitchen in Amsterdam West (The Netherlands). The members of Wilde Westen are: Lucia Babina/iStrike.ultd, Reinder Bakker and Hester van Dijk/ Overtreders-W, Merijn Oudenampsen, Eva Pfannes and Sylvain Hartenberg/Ooze and Henriette Waal. Lucia Babina is a cultural producer with specific interests on how culture and art can affect urban areas. Her projects produce visions, interpretations and actions that are affecting the way we see, use and inhabit the urban realm. She is founder of iStrike foundation in Rotterdam, an environmental organization aimed at creating multidisciplinary platforms of analysis, comparison, and international exchange. She is co-founder of Cohabitations Strategies, a cooperative for socio-spatial development, with which she has been developing projects at international level.
Ooze is an international practice engaged in art, architecture and urban projects. Ooze strives to create environments which can be perceived in various subjective ways. The different meanings that can be given to our interventions create openness and are able to integrate users. We want to give various users the freedom to occupy a room, a building or a piece of the city and to develop it further in their own way. We strive to start processes which lead to informal spatial solutions. We have been applying our strategy to public spaces ranging from small to large scale, such as exhibition spaces for TENT contemporary museum, Rotterdam, art installations for for Emscherkunst.2010, where our interventions integrate the observers spatially, a strategy for Amsterdam West, where we proposed initiatives to make informal economic activities visible, or architectural interventions in the port area of Ijmuiden that make use of different regional forces. We derive the drive for our projects from a thorough analysis of interpretations, narratives and inspirations of the users of the space.
Merijn Oudenampsen is a free lance researcher, specializing in political and urban issues. He studied urban sociology and political science at the UvA in Amsterdam. His interests range from urban megaprojects, citybranding, the creative city to utopian architecture, social engineering and the postpoliticalness of it all. You can find his articles off- and online, in places such as de Groene Amsterdammer, Waterland, Open Cahiers, Mute Magazine, Metropolis M, and Archined. He is part of the platform Flexmens.org and intermittently (co-)organises conferences and debates, such as Vox Populi (KNAW, 2009) Migrant Media Metropolis (de Balie, 2008) en het Publieke Verlangen (de Balie, 2007).
Overtreders W (Tresspassers W) is spatial design studio, established by Reinder Bakker and Hester van Dijk. With their designs they strive to make people feel at home. 'Home' means different things: feeling at home deals with more than one's own house, it depends on the quality of other places you regularly visit, such as the street where your house is, the park around the corner, the road you take when going to work, your office or the hospital you go to cure a broken leg. These secondary home places are what Overtreders W work on. Our designs make space for the dreams and ambitions of people living there. Projects done by Overtreders W are The Cook, the Framer His Wife and their Neighbour (in cooperation with WIlde Westen, 2009), Visitors Centre" de Oostvaarders" (Almere, 2009) and bicycle tunnel "Pixelpoort" (Zaandam, 2009).
Henriette Waal is a public space researcher and designer interested in local culture and cultural signs in relation to the public domain. In her projects Waal combines on-site fieldwork with a strongly conceptual approach.The result can manifest itself as a new spacial use. Besides physical interventions she produces image, film and text. Currenty she is researching the relation between food and the city in different projects. In a recent project in Tilburg (NL) she developed an outside brewery as a tool for a drinkable landscape together with the homebrewers of that area.