R.U.A. as a platform realizes different editions of huge street art exhibitions in public space. Our aim is to be mobile and global. We install for a period in a city, choose a neighbourhood, form a local team and organize an exhibition, with all related activities that are part of a complete R.U.A. edition. The main goal of each edition is, that we bring something inspiring for local inhabitants and that the result will be embraced by the locals as a starting point for sustainable change in their area.
In the summer of 2014 we once again settled in the H-Buurt in the Southeast region of Amsterdam. We’d been active in the H-Buurt since 2011. We’d realized graffiti workshops with our local partners and luckily hosted our international guests in the emerging creative community of Heesterveld at that time. In an area with Zero Tolerance politics towards graffiti, and street art in general, that was somewhat innovating and turned out to be the reason to come back and back again.
As a result of an exchange between local artists and Brazilians Dalata and Gais Ama, the first mural of R.U.A. was realized on the head of the Heesterveld Creative Community. At that time it was a very curious test case of social housing corporation Ymere who – after thorough lobbying – gave in and accepted the mural to be temporarily painted. Our Belo Horizonte king of spray techniques, Dalata created an impressive piece of work that happened to be the change of the H-Buurt ever after.
Dalata (2011) - Heesterveld, picture Marco Buddingh
We didn’t expect the huge amount of positive feedback from the locals. After a few months the painting was supposed to be removed, but the neighbours organized the collection of autographs to guarantee the permanence of the painting on the building. Apart from that, they mobilized themselves and asked the municipality in one united voice, for more of our paintings in their area, as they would bring more colour and happiness for the people. And that’s in fact, the core of R.U.A.!
We were flattered and more than inspired to settle down in the H-Buurt to bring more art to that area. In 2012 Recife based artist Derlon, painted the first 12 floors high building in the H-Buurt. This time it was housing corporation Rochdale that showed itself very brave to accept our art on its building. Once again, the inhabitants of the building reacted with excitement and where very thankful for our initiative to bring something positive to there area.
Derlon (2012) - Haag en Veld, Picture Clarissa Pivetta
While Derlon was painting on Haag en Veld, inhabitants of the second block of Heesterveld – the block that wasn’t painted, expressed their interests in getting a painting on their own building as well. A good reason for Ymere to once more, give us the possibility to realize a painting. This time, we asked Anna Taratiel, Ovni to make something that would fit the architecture of the building.
Left: Anna Taratiel (Ovni) and her helpers in 2014. Background:Heesterveld painting 2012 by Ovni
Picture: Marco Buddingh
People approached us on the street with the question to paint their building…It was obvious for us: we couldn’t just leave and settle somewhere else…we only just made a start, tons of things to do out there…!
Shortcut to Bijlmer background
The construction of Amsterdam Southeast, Bijlmermeer, in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, was a massive architectonic experiment. At first it was created to answer the great demand for expansion of Amsterdam since the Second World War, higher middle class Dutch people looking for green and comfort on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Instead, the region turned out to be unattractive because of its lack of facilities, and its socially isolated position from the rest of the city.
The experiment happened to be a big failure because middle class people moving to the new buildings became unsatisfied with the lacking infrastructure and saw their stay as temporarily until finding something better. They soon moved to other regions leaving massive vacancy in the buildings in the Bijlmer. Immigrants, mostly from Caribbean and Surinam background, who were running away from an uncertain economic situation in their homelands and used the last opportunity before independence - in case of Surinam in 1975 - to setlle in The Netherlands, moved in the buildings. Soon after West African immigrants followed, setting example for people of more than 140 other nationalities, who found their home in the Bijlmer today.
Due to several problems such as unemployment, a lively informal circuit emerged. In a certain way this created the charming character of the Bijlmer of the 1980’s and ‘90’s but, at the same time, caused a lot of nuisance. Drugs sales and use, robberies and other illegal activity where flourishing, which soon gave the area a dangerous impression for outsiders. Locals suffered degeneration, social exclusion, poverty and segregation. Although things have changed since the 90's, the negative stigma stayed.
R.U.A. 2014 in the H-Buurt
The H-Buurt is one neighbourhood in the Bijlmer, in the region of Amsterdam Southeast and the first one to be built during the massive expansion plan from the 1960's. It is also one of the last neighbourhoods to undergo serous renovation or reuilding. The origin of the neighbourhood and its population was our basic interest in settling there. We have been active in Brazil for many years, and the population of the H-Buurt was very receptive towards our artists from Brazil. They immediately seemed to have a strong connection as if their backgrounds and lifestyle had much in common. This made it interesting to realize a new edition of R.U.A. in which more paintings would be realized at once and locals could be more actively involved in the whole process.
We were also very moved by the stories of the buildings Heesterveld and Hoptille, and the people living in those buildings. The H-Buurt – as small as it looks – is a huge library of untold stories, unwritten books and movie scripts. We hope that the realization of the 2014 edition of R.U.A. will shed a different, more positive light, on those people and their stories, and will offer the inspiration and opportunities to make positive change possible.
The group of artists that participated in 2014 consisted of Onio, Ramon Martins, Speto, Rimon Guimarães, Gais Ama and Ovni.