they should be the model for any rebel with a cause. A New Church_ Grootveld began smoking at 10 years old, after his father offered him a cigarette. As an adult, it was not long before the nicotine began to intoxicate him. As soon as he left the hospital with a serious lung infection, he began an all out attack on the city’s cigarette trade with the help of his friends. Among their several actions, one became notorious. Provos would spray paint a giant K for kanker (cancer, in Dutch) on public ads for cigarettes. Grootveld was arrested for this over twenty times. He would always be released just hours later. But those who think the clown gave up smoking would be dead wrong. He quit tobacco, but when it came to weed, he actually founded a church in its honor, called Kof-Kof. During the cult rites, between rolling up joints, the members would chant a mantra repeating kof-kof-kof-kof-kof-kof-kof-kof-kof-kof-kof-kof. “That way we never forget how normal cigarettes were harmful to us,” says a smiling Grootveld. Open Mind_ It was not only Grootveld’s creativity that gave wings to Provos. Dutch librarian Hugo Bart Huges joined the movement in order to disseminate his theory in defense of a rather peculiar and bizarre method around the city. Huges believed that one of the ways to control blood pressure in the brain was to drill a small hole into the skull and expose the brain, a process known as trepanation. To shock a large part of the population in Amsterdam, Huges underwent trepanation in full view in a public square. His justification for the act was that it caught people’s attention and expanded their awareness – in this case, quite literally. His success was so big that Huges published a book about it. In The Mechanism of Brainbloodvolume, he asserts that a hole in the mind can create a constant feeling of being high. Equality on two wheels_ Weeks after Huges’ manifestation, the whole of Amsterdam was talking about Provos. The time had definitely come to do something bigger, capable of involving a larger part of the population. Provos gathered at the Lieverdje square and one of its members suggested an action where the main character would be a method of transportation common to this day in Holland: the bicycle. The idea was simple (and perhaps that is why it worked so well.) That meeting at the square would become known as the night of the white bicycles. On nearby streets, the anarchists invited the population to paint their bicycles white and to leave them on the street, available to whoever wanted to use them. Many loved the idea. The following week you could see people leaving their houses, grabbing a random white bicycle found on the street, and then dropping the bicycle off at their final destination, ready to be used by the next person. As was expected, the Dutch police didn’t like this one bit and saw the practice as illegal, since it violated the country’s private property laws. For the first few days of the white bicycles, the police tried to arrest violators. Impossible: they were hard pressed to find a jail that could hold over one third of the city’s population, all of which had adhered to the movement. With the success of the bicycles, Provos decided to diversify their strategy. Other actions involving white paint began to pop up around town. It was the case of the white chimneys, where the chimneys that emitted the most smoke in Amsterdam were painted white. Pajamas and pumpkins_ After founding a church, drilling a hole into a skill and beginning an egalitarian cycling movement, Provos was enjoying a considerable wave of public approval. Since the municipal elections for Amsterdam were drawing near, they put up a candidate in the running. He was elected with three thousand votes, but he did not show up alone to the municipal council. Since their plan was to antagonize politicians, the members of Provos would take turns, and every month a different member of the movement would show up to meetings as a representative. They all went barefoot and in their pajamas. Despite their hilarious political antics, the truth was that a lot of people in Holland so Provos only as a group of comedians and not as a truly artistic and political movement. But, in 1966, something happened to prove that one does not have to be bland and taciturn to awaken a whole city to a controversial debate. That year, all of Holland was captivated by the marriage of Princess Beatriz with Prince Claus von Amsberg. Just like at the recent royal celebrations in the United Kingdom, back then a crowd camped out in front of the place where the wedding ceremony was to take place and feverishly bought tacky souvenirs like teacups with the couple’s faces. But Provos placed the mindless fascination aside and did what any politician should have done: they investigated the prince’s past. It took them less than a week to find out that a young Von Amsberg had been a part of the Hitler Youth. Holland, which had suffered many atrocities under Nazism, was shocked. The popular reaction was exactly as Provos wanted it – in other words, very politicized, but also humorous enough to embarrass the pants off the royal family. When the recently married Beatriz and Von Amsberg paraded in an open car along
the streets, the jeering population threw hundreds of pieces of pumpkins at them. As incredible as it may seem, it ended well for the ones that got pumpkin in the face. Von Amsberg was able to restore his reputation and become one of the most beloved princes in the Netherlands. Provos, on the other hand, as is common with anarchist group, soon split into several factions and lost their initial strength. That’s okay. The ideals of freedom and anarchy were well rooted in Amsterdam by then. Today, the city is the way it is because of these fascinating hellraisers. Therefore, before ordering at a coffee shop, don’t forget the city is the way it is now because sometime ago a lot of people fought hard to change the rules of the game.
The driver of change Invent, crank out products, make a profit, and better yet, enjoy the tranquility of being Dutch or of living in modern Holland… On location, we checked out the characters that make that area one of the most creative in the Netherlands By Bruno Moreschi Hans Hiltermann and the art of neutrality_ Tired of spending is time registering products to sell them, photographer Hans Hiltermann quit advertisement, sold everything he had, opened a studio in the center of Amsterdam and began to develop his personal work. Convinced that we are who we are because of our parents, friends and masters, he decided that his main focus would be human beings and the most human aspect of humanity: love. From then on, he began to photograph people who inspired him. Next came pictures of people who inspired the people who inspired them, and so on. In nine years of work there were 400 pictures taken using the exact same technique. The hyper realistic pictures are portraits of people staring straight at the camera. Unlike in advertisement, they wear no makeup, their hair is not made up, they are not smiling nor do they have a seductive smile on their lips, and above all, there are not there to try and sell you something. Judging from the completely beguiling and receptive look of the portraits, there is complete between the photographer and subject. In truth, this genuineness is achieved by means of small artifices. The model is placed between four white walls with a single opening for the camera lens, behind which the photographer places himself. Hiltermann learned to meditate and induces his models to enter a meditative state using breathing techniques. After 5 minutes, he asks the subject to look at the camera and think about the person they most love and trust in the world. 16 clicks and voilà: you get a person looking lovingly, openly and unguardedly right at you. It is impossible not to immediately begin fantasizing about the person facing you in the picture. And that is exactly what Hiltermann proposes we do: when we create stories and moods for the objects we look upon we are in fact saying much more about yourselves than about those objects. (LP) documentyou.org Frank Visser and an escape to the tropics_ This Dutchman born in Amsterdam is known in his country as one of the top stylists and set designers. His work is almost always bursting with color. Visser is also part of IJM, an artistic collective that produces magazines, books and images of food. At 48 years old, Visser says he is in love with big cities. Despite the fact that South Korea is Visser’s favorite country, the artist is planning to spend quite a bit of time in our very own Rio de Janeiro. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate the city he lives in now. “Amsterdam is incredible in the spring. That season brings out the best in things and people around here. Actually, I am surprised by the city’s beauty every day.” ijm.nl Esther van Schagen , the pioneer in the Red Light District_ Among girls in
bikinis behind glass windows and boys from every corner of the world who show not the slightest inclination for fashion, the Red Light District shelters the newest Dutch designers, blending in to a new project by the Amsterdam Town Hall – an attempt to transform the city’s traditional prostitution zone into something more creative and fashion oriented. Esther van Schagen got there before the government program, three years ago. She set up her shoe shop on the ground floor and moved in with kids Kalle and Joppe into the second floor of her house. Completely laid-back, she states that everyone knows each other there, and affirms that there are children and elderly there and it is a good neighborhood. She knows the peep show girls are swaying their hips one block over, but she doesn’t need to look at it. “I always prefer to see the good side of things. This area gets a lot of visi-
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Published on Jul 11, 2011