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Second edition Refresh Amsterdam shows work by 20 artists around war and conflict


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Art event on urban culture featuring work by contemporary creators 

From 7 October 2023 to 25 February 2024, the second edition of Refresh Amsterdam place. Refresh Amsterdam is a biennial event on Amsterdam urban culture featuring work by contemporary creators. The theme of this edition is War & Conflict. The exhibition at the Amsterdam Museum features works by twenty artists from different disciplines, selected through an open call. With their work, they show how wars and conflicts around the world and throughout time play a role in the city of Amsterdam.

Selected artists

Through an open call, the Amsterdam Museum invited makers to submit a proposal for a work on the theme of War & Conflict. Over 150 submissions were received. The selection committee* chose 20 of these proposals to participate in Refresh Amsterdam . The names of the selected artists, sometimes in duos or as a collective, are Nasam Abboud & Yazan Maksoud & Roua Jafar, Kristina Benjocki, Marcel van den Berg, Luan Buleshkaj, Dina Danish, Ehsan Fardjadniya & Raul Balai, Tina Farifteh, Clinton Kabena, Ayşen Kaptanoğlu, Susanne Khalil Yusef, Gert Jan Kocken, Senka Milutinović, Vika Mitrichenko, Sithabile Mlotshwa, Pieter Paul Pothoven, Ratu R. Saraswati, Anika Schwarzlose & Elena Khurtova, Victor Sonna, Handan Tufan and We Sell Reality.

War and conflict in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has been shaped in part by wars and their consequences. Thus, the city has been a haven for many for centuries. At the same time, Amsterdam itself has contributed to war and oppression in various parts of the world. This results in a great diversity of residents. Many people still carry war with them, even in the Amsterdam of 2023.

Artistic reflections on War & Conflict

The works in the exhibition sometimes deal with a personal family history or identity, in other cases they focus on more general reflections on a conflict situation. From Syria to Ukraine, from Kosovo to Congo: the artists ask for recognition of underexposed sides of war or conflict situations and reflect on the meaning of resilience and resistance. Trauma, coping and humour play an important role. There is also a focus on the effects of war in different generations.
Participating artist Senka Milutinović (Belgrade, Serbia, 1999) aptly sums this up: "As an individual, I didn't grow up to be an immediate witness of war. Instead, I was the witness of witnesses whose reality and recent memory impacted how my generation was raised." ("I did not grow up as an immediate witness of war. Instead, I was the witness of witnesses whose reality and recent memories impacted how my generation was raised.")
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Poignant works

"In the proposals, we saw how war and conflict affect artists' lives," said Imara Limon, curator of the exhibition from the Amsterdam Museum. "Sometimes it involves an earlier generation, in other works it involves an area abroad. It stays with these makers forever, even if they now live in Amsterdam. I was surprised by the poignant and creative way artists depict this through their installations, videos and performances. I can't wait for the public to experience this soon."


Main partner of this second edition is We Sell Reality, an art collective of documented and undocumented makers. In addition, the Amsterdam Museum is working for Refresh Amsterdam works closely with leading institutions for art and culture throughout Amsterdam: AGA LAB, de Appel, CBK Zuidoost, Framer Framed, International Institute for Social History, Kriterion, Melkweg Expo, Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam, OSCAM, Pakhuis de Zwijger, Paradiso, P/////AKT, Podium Mozaïek, Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, ROZENSTRAAT - a rose is a rose is a rose, Sexyland World, Stichting NDSM-werf, The Black Archives, Tolhuistuin and W139.

To be seen

All works in the exhibition are new or recently created. They are works from various disciplines, including fine art, design, performance, video art, multimedia installations and textile work. The works are alternately intimate, confrontational, abstract and humorous.
Thus dissects Tina Farifteh (Tehran, Iran, 1982) with her audiovisual installation The Flood the idea of water as a metaphor for the people who try to reach Europe through the Mediterranean every year and who are portrayed as a threat with terms like 'asylum tsunami' or statements like 'we are overrun by migrants'.
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Tina Farifteh. The Flood, 2021-2023. Photo: Pauline Niks.
Gert Jan Kocken (Ravenstein, Netherlands, 1971) shows a large version of Depictions of Amsterdam, an archival work composed of a series of city maps. They were used in Amsterdam during World War II, such as the 'dot map' depicting the distribution of Jews across the city.
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Gert Jan Kocken. Depictions of Amsterdam 1940-1945, 2009-2023. Photo: Gert Jan Kocken.
The digital artwork Momentary Lapse in Memory from Senka Milutinović is an interactive environment based on memories from Milutinović's family and friends surrounding the 1999 NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia.
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Still from digital artwork Senka Milutinović. Momentary Lapse in Memory, 2023

Additional locations

During the term of Refresh Amsterdam works by the selected makers are on display at various locations around the city, including the second part of Clinton Kabena's installation Landed Rock (2022) on the NDSM wharf, the neon artwork Bidnan3eesh - بدنا نعيش (WE WANT TO LIVE) (2022) by Susanne Khalil Yusef at OBA Oosterdok and the installation Overtoom 274 (2023) by Pieter Paul Pothoven at the International Institute of Social History (IISG). Furthermore, further installations on the theme of War & Conflict will open at partners. For example, from 7 October 2023 to 14 January 2024 at Framer Framed, the exhibition Performing Colonial Toxicity on show with work by Samia Henni and from 19 November to 17 December at P/////AKT the second part of Anika Schwarzlose and Elena Khurtova's installation Residue (2023).


The first part of the public programme takes place right on the opening weekend: the symposium War, Conflict, and the City on Sunday 8 October from 16.00 to 18.30 at the Amsterdam Museum aan de Amstel. On 9 December, the museum can be visited in the evening during AM Invites. Additional programming will also be organised by collaboration partners, including three commemorative events by art collective We Sell Reality for conflict situations and wars with which the group is closely associated: at Framer Framed on 25 November, at Sexyland World on 3 December and at the Amsterdam Museum on 9 December.

Website and publications

The website of the Amsterdam Museum offers in-depth coverage of the exhibition, including essays by guest authors. Writer and journalist Chris Keulemans, also a member of the selection committee of Refresh Amsterdam , reimagines the city through artworks in the exhibition. Lara Khaldi, artistic director of de Appel, will analyse the artistic practices of We Sell Reality and Ehsan Fardjadniya & Raul Balai, which deal with undocumented migrants in the city. In addition, the new online academic journal Amsterdam Museum Journal (AMJournal) will be launched during the above symposium. This journal will be published twice a year and accessible via the museum's website. The first edition of AMJournal ties in with Refresh Amsterdam with the theme War, Conflict, and the City.

First edition Refresh Amsterdam

The first edition of Refresh Amsterdam was organised around the theme Sense of Place and took place from 11 December 2020 to 25 July 2021. 25 contemporary makers then showed work about their place in the city at the Amsterdam Museum. The museum subsequently acquired three works for its collection.
Refresh Amsterdam : War & Conflict can be seen from Saturday 7 October 2023 to Sunday 25 February 2024 at the Amsterdam Museum aan de Amstel and at the various partner institutions in Amsterdam.
* The selection committee consisted of art collective We Sell Reality, Imara Limon and Margriet Schavemaker (Amsterdam Museum), Huib Haye van der Werf (De Appel), Emily Shin-Jie Lee and Rita Ouédraogo (Framer Framed), Sjoerd Kloosterhuis (ROZENSTRAAT - a rose is a rose is a rose), Margarita Osipian (W139), Bengin Dawod (architect and urban planner), Chris Keulemans (writer and journalist) and Sahar Shirzad (writer, programme maker and human rights activist).

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