12-18 June 2008
Conference: Interesting Amsterdam One of the consequences of living in the internet age is that we’re all less tolerant of boredom. If we’re bored, we click. There’s always something interesting one click away. Come to think of it, why can’t life be more like that? That’s the idea behind INTERESTING, a travelling conference that started in London, moved to Sydney and is now landing in Amsterdam. The organisers describe the experience as ‘like clicking from one really good blog to another’, ranging across topics from pretty much everywhere, from the physics of quicksand to the films of Russ Meyer. Many of the speakers are experts of one sort or another: academics, scientists, writers. But others are enthusiastic amateurs who just want you to be as excited as they are about, say, the history of Romanian architecture or the things you can make from a broken umbrella. The only common theme is that all the talks are short, fun and, well, interesting. It’s like the web, but easier on the fingers. See www.interestingamsterdam.nl. (Jennifer Lyon Bell) De Balie, 10.00-18.00, €20.
Festival: Day-Trip Amsterdam Tourist Festival Acquiring feelings of loathing for those damned nincompoop tourists is a very important step in becoming a full-fledged Mokumer. But instead of our usual attitude that makes us run them down on the bike path, send them to the transgender hooker street in the Red Light District and generally bitch and moan, let’s put ourselves in their Birckenstocks for a change. You can be a tourist in your own town at the Day Trip Festival taking place at the Sloterparkbad. Drag those backpacking skeletons out of your closet, strip them of those floppy hats, fanny packs and over–sized Hawaiian-shirts and go westwards. There are six festival areas to choose from: Scandinavia offers a cool collection of beats, India supplies eastern vibes and New Orleans has live bands and burlesque to boot! You can earn more drinking money at Monte Carlo or sunbathe and swim at Costa del Sol, rounded off by an afterparty into the jetlagged morning at Sydney. See www.touristfestival.nl. (Luuk van Huët) Sloterparkbad, 12.30, €33 presale, €44 door, €11 for afterparty.
SUNDAY15 JUNE Event: De Oceaan Once upon a time in 1961, the ‘anti-smoke magician’ Robert Jasper Grootveld began a oneman campaign against what he saw as the zenithing culture of consumerism. He gleefully picked up on cigarette addiction as a potent symbol of the addiction of the consumer. And because billboards with cigarette ads were convincing customers to buy cancer, it only made sense to decorate them all with a large ‘K’ for kanker. Soon he was hyping Amsterdam as the ‘magical centre of the universe’ and using the ‘Lieverdje’ statue on the Spui as his pulpit. It became the ‘happening’ place to be on a Saturday night. Grootveld raved out an inspired anti-smoke sermon (himself often smoking to take on the burden of humanity’s sins), while being accompanied by a communal psalm of ‘ugge-ugge-ugge’—the chant of the smoker’s hack. Meanwhile... Johnny the Selfkicker, the bellowing poet, would break his self-induced trance by throwing himself from a scarily high place. The ‘semidoctor’ Bart Hughes would testify of the benefits of trepanation (the act of drilling a hole in one’s head, which released the pressure, opened the third eye and induced a pleasantly permanent high). And the anarchist philosophy student Roel van Duyn focussed the whole affair with a more political/social agenda. Under the name of Provo—inspired by their game plan, to provoke—their style went on to influence the anti-Vietnam demos in the US and the Situationist antics in 1969 Paris, and set the tone for Amsterdam’s love of liberal politics and absurdist theatre. While some Provos, such as Van Duyn, went on to fight the system from within the city council, Grootveld remained eccentric: building unsinkable Styrofoam islands filled with greenery. But in recent years, due to illness, he’s had to pass on his role as ‘Stryofoam Prophet’ to his apprentice Arno Baan who is currently developing a floating island in New York, floating schoolyards in IJburg and a huge floating field by the Muziekgebouw. And today you can watch the largest product of Baan’s and Grootveld’s collaboration: the 8- by 24-metre De Oceaan, a floating urban paradise complete with apple tree, blueberries, kiwis and wheat. It’s arrival, powered by ten rowers, near NEMO should be a provocative one. After 22 June, it will be moved to Entrepothaven in Zeeburg. (Steve Korver) 14.00, free. Until 22 June.
World Music: Roots Open Air Welcome to Amsterdam. A rootsy one. The annual Amsterdam Roots festival is a celebration of world culture and music where the Concertgebouw, Melkweg, Paradiso and Tropentheater band together to put on dozens of concerts. The festival’s high point is Roots Open Air, when Oosterpark is transformed into a collection of ‘villages’ where free performances are given. Seven stages, over 50 local and international acts and around 55,000 Amsterdammers from all walks of life come together to groove and eat. A definite highlight this year is Marseille-based sound system Watchaclan who combine electronic beats—of the fat, phat and fatter variety—with traditional sounds from southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Other recommendations are Oojami (Turkish dancehall, etc), Kal (Serbian gypsy music with a rock ’n’ roll ’tude) and the Jaipur Maharaja Brass Band (Bollywood meets acrobatics meets fire-eating). Yes, this perfect day in the park should not be missed. Go to www.amsterdamroots.nl for the full programme and to sign the petition against Kunstraad’s recommendation to cut the funding for this singular—and ultimately Amsterdam—event. It’s much more than just a ‘feestje’. (Steve Korver) Oosterpark, 13.00-21.00, free.
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