|Gestrand in zijn gedachtes © Yorinde, 17 jaar|
Walking from the tram stop to the project location of Foam in Amsterdam Nieuw-West, I already see billboards with portraits of local citizens in an open space that is meant to be full of new houses but will be empty in the coming years because of the economic recession. They all have a positive story to tell that contradicts the stereotypical expectations. Just before entering the Confucius square where I'm going to visit a new exhibition, my eyes are pulled towards another series of huge photographs of people from the neighborhood hanging in the windows. It is obvious that there is something exciting is happening.
I'm very curious to visit 'West Side Stories', as this project location is called. It is a very special place where locals from this relatively deprived part of the city get acquainted with the power of photography. Situated in a shop in a flat that will be demolished in the near future, the combined efforts of housing corporations Ymere, Stadgenoot and foam prove to be a winning combination.
|Jong & Oud in Nieuw West © Foam|
Garance Camping, project worker at Foam, enthusiastically explains the project. 'Six youngsters have been visiting six older neighbours. In three workshops under the guidance of a museum educator from Foam, they have made portraits of each other.'
Contrary to expectations, the older people were very happy to visit the young people. And the young were happily surprised by the attention they got from the seniors. The participants are very proud with the results. 'It's so beautiful and so huge.' 'It was such a special experience to visit each other at home.' 'In the beginning it was a bit frightening.'
Amsterdam definitely deserves more project locations like West Side Stories.
(Harry Mertens, former project leader social cohesion at MOVISIE, the Netherlands centre for social development)