Milica Topalovic, Marc Neelen, Ana Dzokic (Stealth group)

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Culture of temporary use in Amsterdam

decay, d-i-y, experiment, entrepreneurship

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key cultural aspects of temporary uses at the former Amsterdam North shipyards

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‘Decay is the antithesis of lifestyle consumption. Lifestyle is perfect and integrated. Decay is imperfect and recycled. Lifestyle is purchased, decay is accrued or earned.’ *(1)

Culture of Decay

Amsterdam Noord shipyards are one of the ever-rarer areas in Amsterdam which appear as if they are still in the cultural and aesthetical state of decay*(2), abandonment.
As such, it provides an cultural and aesthetical antidote to clean, newly finished, customized, commercial urban space, in ubiquitous progress since early 90s.
At present, Amsterdam Noord shipyards are a magnet and a breeding ground for the large ‘urban culture’ network.
Decay is also a promise of a new beginning, an ‘urban prairie’.
It provides a cultural shelter, but also a degree of social and political autonomy.

It is interesting to examine, if the notion of decay performs as a kind of cohesive cultural element, to bring together very different groups of artists and craftsmen into the formation of a strong alternative culture?
To what extent is decay a precondition for emergence of temporary uses*(3) and why? Which temporary uses can, and which cannot, exist without decay*?
Is temporality also a guarantee for ‘autonomy’ or merely a ‘verdict’ on ‘nomadism’?

‘Do it Yourself, rather than relying on government or large corporations whenever possible.  If you are a musician, consider recording independently. If you are a writer, consider publishing independently and not copyrighting your work.’’ *(4)

Culture of Independent (D-I-Y]

Unlike any other city in the world, perhaps, Amsterdam has traditionally developed the climate of extra-ordinary freedoms.
Situationists > Constant - Homo Ludens > Provo-movement in the 60s > Kabouters in the 70s > Squatting movement in the 80s, have all contributed to the confident (sub)culture in which ‘exception’ and ‘diversity’ are constants.
Today’s generation of ‘cultural entrepreneurs’ is coming from ‘the Provo-parents and beatnik-grandparents….’*(5) The ‘entrepreneurship’ stands for people who are very much interested to take responsibility and initiatives for their own environment.

The important cultural aspect of independent thinking and acting, a kind of multi-level do-it-yourself, certainly draws from this tradition.

‘D-I-Y, rather than relying on government or large corporations whenever possible.  If you are a musician, consider recording independently. If you are a writer, consider publishing independently and not copyrighting your work.’* (6) Build your own environment with found, recycled materials, use your own inventiveness and solutions, but also build your social and cultural context organically.

The raw rebellion of the 60s has softened significantly into a kind of professional attitude with a lot of openness in dealing with ‘external world’. Still, not taking institutions for granted, not adopting hierarchical organization, being firm at the position that collective (such as Kinetisch Noord) grows, via organic process of negotiation and interaction among people.

‘Precisely at the point where the borders between disciplines become vague, is the point where the various disciplines are forced to reflect upon their own history and once again receive the chance to become radical again.’, *(7)

Culture of Experiment

Seeks for Art in a (city-scale) independent culture, a network, and an establishment of a platform of framework for continuous experiment.
Promotes an idea of ever-changing collective creative body; non-stop interaction and exchange between ‘all forms of artistic media and small-scale craftsmanship’.
Emphasis is on ‘the young’ and ‘international’.
Has little respect for the mainstream culture and trends, except as a subject of interpretation.

‘It's not gentrification, it's ‘economic diversification’ that's important. (...) The key will be bringing jobs into the cities that aren't just for lawyers and insurance executives and the like...’, *(8)

Culture of ‘Entrepreneurship’

‘Entrepreneurial’ dimension is twofold:

On one hand it stands for small-scale craftsmanship, service or startup, and is very much related with temporary use because these are ventures of limited resources and experience, which need (temporal) space and time to develop. At the same time, the category of the small enterprise is the one that introduces innovation and flexibility to it’s domain.
In that sense, argument of the ‘scale of economy’ can become a strong corrective factor to the dominant market driven planning.

On the other hand, ‘cultural entrepreneurship’ – relates to artists who have, provoked by the slowness of governmental institutions, taken the roles of art-producers, or better said, art-developers, as well.
Task of a cultural entrepreneur is complex, requiring constant (and competent) dialogue with the government and other parties in an urban process.
It also involves creation of most unusual (and funny) forms of organizing, for instance one in which the non-profit and flexible artists collective (Kinetisch Noord) runs the business of economic exploitation of nearby spaces.

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(1)     ‘Everything Falls Apart’ (…)
(2)     Ibid,
(3)     The elderman of the city of Amsterdam, Duco Stadig, very enthusiastic about the KN development, offered them to make a proposal for the temporary use of new office space in the Zuidas (South Axis)…
(4)      ‘An Introduction to the Anarchist Movement’, by Brian Crabtree   

(5)     Ibid,  Ruigoord group
(6)    ‘An Introduction to the Anarchist Movement’, by Brian Crabtree
(7)    'NDSM-werf Amsterdam Noord’ by Eva de Klerk
(8)     ‘Cities and Suburbs’, A Harvard Magazine Roundtable

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