Guerilla Expo. 1


The shared, battled 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, free time and tourism, in which they can freely live, consume and relax (lounge). Architectural highlights, tidied -up public spaces and high-level public utilities have to make the city attractive for international  companies and consumer based civilians.

Behind this image presented in tourist folders and such hides a different reality. Because of the rise of this new middle-class, other groups are being pushed out of the center and the 19th century-area’s. 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, and give the city her colorful presence. This multicultural society is being appreciated ass long it presents itself in exotic stores and colorful parties. At the moment it leads to any "distracting" behavior, unlike the demanded "normal" ways as defined by the Amsterdam image, and the norms and values dictated in this image are being disturbed, the tolerance is making space 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”. Creativity is being appreciated, but it has to fit into the image that the city has of its own, and preferably serve the purpose of the free market. There is also space for different opinions, as long as they are expressed at the appropriate ‘normal’ space and time.


In this shared city, the inhabitants give their daily life shape from their own needs, wishes and expectations. 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/battled city' wants to exhibit this post-modern metropolis. How do people move trough the city, which boundaries are being crossed and in which way do people (consciously or unconsciously) seek confrontation with the ruling authorities.

With this we want to show that the conquering of ones own space does not only possess 'sympathetic' emancipation-moments, but also radical and from in some perspectives causing negative fractures. In the battled city, for example, we see Moroccan senior women claiming a tea-home 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 monument of rejecting against, or emancipating from the '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 battled city are taken as the core subjects for this exhibition. Because these tensions seem to surface at the moment an event breaks the boundaries of everyday life, we want to connect this exposition to the squatting of a building in the center of town. The space for the exhibition will be squatted for a week. In the middle of the free market violence, the space has to create an oasis of astray behavior, creativity and freedom, in order to make consumer-based Amsterdam-inhabitant or tourist realize that there is more to the city is more than just a shopping paradise. The action squat is not a remedy to have cheap space, but has a direct relation to the contents of this exhibition. The Guerilla Expo wants to literally fracture the city’s structure, but because of an inviting composition will also melt with her environment .The continuing process of the shared and battled city will come into the character of the exposition in this way.




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


Amsterdam city BV

Amsterdam is being seen more and more as a corporation, visible in the way the city is run and large interests in it are being sold. This determines for an important part the city’s landscape and social-cultural development.

Ideas for working with this theme.

The way in which economic principles like efficiency and rationalization increasingly structure our everyday lives. The highly educated Amsterdam inhabitant wants to arrange his working time and free time in the most efficient way possible and enjoy as much as possible the limited amount of free time he has. This way of life is possible because of an informal economy in which illegal workers keep this s lifestyle affordable. Pakistani and Indian people run the launderettes, people smuggle cocaine into the country with their own bodies to provide the necessary kicks. The sale of Amsterdam as a tourist playground to outsiders by redesigning the authentic ‘Amsterdam Look’ (like the newly developed Dam square or the old-fashioned lampposts along the streets).


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.

Sound: the pollution of sound, dying noises, the terror of the muzak and the prohibition of music in the street.

Sight: horizon/perspective change brought forth by the changes in your surroundings.

Image-terror: the publex boards.

Free expression: graffiti, stickers, posters and tags….

Adventure. The city as a jungle: urban exploration/psycho-geography


Amsterdam city culture:

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

Ideas for working with this theme.

In the city global developments, like a victory of Galatasaray in the Uefa Cup Finals or the occupation of Palestine by Israel, are having their influence on the context of Amsterdam itself. In which way are global happenings taken into this context? And how does the city shape these events?

On one hand the multiculturalism is being desired, on the other hand everything that’s different is being rejected. For instance Nike is sponsoring the so-called “panna” football (a sort of Streetfootbal) in Amsterdam. The street credibility of foreign kids is being desired by Nike and therefore being marketed this way. (the hope that these foreign kids emancipate them from this exploitation can also be considered as a desire) In the meantime foreign kids are being projected as” public enemy nr 1.”(like Rob Oudkerks  Cunt-Moroccans)


Amsterdam controlling everything

The controlling of the city life is making sure that only the preferred norms of city behavior are possible. People that don’t fit up to these norms, like bums 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.

Next to the privatization of public space resulting in the fencing off of areas, only specific types of use of public space are being tolerated. Several kinds of zoning, controlling the public space and its use are happening in the city, a lot of the time driven by fear. To illustrate this it would almost be possible to draw a little map in which the different zones are explained: the homeless free zones, the alcohol free zones, the violent free zones….


Social processes of zero tolerance. Supervision and control (security cameras, neighborhood supervisors, disciplining city furniture, etc) Forms of repression, forbidding demonstrations, preventive arrests.




For some time already a team of 7 people are preparing this exhibition. Now the time has come to attract more people want to join this project. We would like to ask you to also give a contribution. You could work on any of the mentioned 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, though our preferences are going out too a fine arts exhibition and we want to avoid long amounts of text.

The Guerilla Expo is going to take plaice somewhere in September, depending also on when we will be able to squat an appropriate location for the expo. We are hoping to have all the individual contributions in at the end of august. In the middle/end of June we would like to meet with everyone interested and exchange ideas.


De Vrije Ruimte and Autonoom Centrum