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Amsterdam Museum opens exhibition on new North Holland portraits


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From 26 July to 10 November 2024, the Amsterdam Museum on the Amstel hosts the exhibition Faces of North Holland on show. The exhibition is the result of the collaboration project of the same name between the Amsterdam Museum and the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, in which the museums searched together with inhabitants for new and untold stories from the province. During the project, various (group) portraits inspired by the stories found and historical group portraits were created through co-creations, trips through the province and a portrait competition. Whereas historical portraits in the collection of both museums often only show the elite of the 16th and 17th centuries, the portraits in this exhibition depict the diversity and versatility of the province. With Faces of North Holland the Amsterdam Museum and the Frans Hals Museum add a new layer, characterised by a broad representation of social classes, ages, genders and cultural backgrounds, to the visual history of North Holland. 

Cooperation based on equality and shared ownership

In the exhibition, several co-creation partners give an insight into their approach and the results of extensive collaborative processes can be seen in several rooms. The Amsterdam Museum and the Frans Hals Museum embrace co-creation as an essential part of their working methods. For Faces of North Hollandthe two museums partnered with community and cultural organisations, makers and residents to give a voice to communities that are less or not visible in established museums. Thanks to the commitment, creativity and enthusiasm of the many partners, this way of working, in which projects take shape on the basis of equality and shared ownership, could be established and applied to realise the works on display in the exhibition. 

Stories from the co-creation partners

Work Heart Make Art Foundation collected with the programme Jungle in the Librarycultural and historical stories of the inhabitants of Alkmaar and Hoorn. Artists Maria del Carmen and Luw Art Tara incorporated these stories into several artworks. Augmented reality artist Life on Marzj added an interactive layer to the artworks. Stichting Kunst en Cultuur Aalsmeer and artist collective De Kunstploeg created a group portrait with the Aalsmeer community, consisting of over 250 self-portraits. From Stadsreporters, the project Hidden Stories initiated, for which women with and without migration backgrounds from Velsen came together to embroider symbols from personal fairy tales on collars. 

Artist AiRich created the contemporary group portrait in collaboration with nine Haarlem youth from the youth centre Flinty's Be/Come as you are. Art and culture centre FluXus in Zaandam and Museum of Humanity brought together a group of young people who interviewed and photographed each other. Museum Kaap Skil and artist Paulien Valk worked with Ukrainian refugees who realised clay works during several workshops. Artist duo Al Freshco, with support from Centrum voor de Kunsten Beverwijk, portrayed 14 children and young people aged between 6 and 21. 

"The Faces of North Holland project shows a great example of how museums, culture makers and residents can join hands to make a difference in the perception of society. Work Heart Make Art Foundation has always wanted to give a stage to the different stories of our diverse society within museums, to make them accessible to all. To see that this wish is supported by multiple cultural organisations makes this collaboration special. Of course, we hope that this is a start and that this will continue to develop for the benefit of all the cultures the Netherlands is rich in."

- Christian Nana, managing director of Work Heart Make Art Foundation

Streakers Audio Collective 

In addition to the various co-creation partners, the creators of Streetsmakers Audio Collective were asked to pick up stories for Faces of North Holland. Streakers Audio Collective is a multidisciplinary and eclectic collective of makers. With microphone and camera in hand, they record the world. The collective does this largely from Amsterdam Southeast and Amsterdam West. During their search for diverse communities in the province, they collected extraordinary stories about historic dike villages, a creative family in Monnickendam and agricultural entrepreneurs. Their travels and visits resulted in unique stories summarised in three multidisciplinary portraits. 

With the portrait Monnickendam calls me of the Sinduhije-Kaneza family, Streets makers Dija Kabba and Femi van Elshuis show the thin line between city and village feeling, the sense of being at home and displacement, connection to family and loneliness. For the project Dyke residents pavers Jesper Buursink and Fouad Lakbir made a bike ride from Amsterdam to Texel in the summer of 2023. Along the way, they recorded stories by looking for a new story every 30 kilometres. With Taking to the land Strategists Mitchell van Ommeren, Eli Guerrero, Jesper Buursink and Fouad Lakbir examined the identity of agricultural entrepreneurs in North Holland. 

"It's cool that, with a microphone in your hand and a drawing pad under your arm, you get to represent people you might not otherwise speak to so readily. When else do you strike up a conversation with a couple of guys from Belarus cutting cauliflowers by hand or meet two brothers from Yemen along the dyke who invite you to Texel? All their stories matter and are allowed to be heard and seen."

- Jesper 'JSPa' Buursink of Stratenmakers Audiocollectief

Portrait contest 

To complement the collaborative projects of the partners of Faces of North Holland a portrait competition was organised in spring 2024. The contest gave participants the chance to capture "the faces of today" in North Holland, using different forms such as photo, video, poem or audio. Everyone was welcome to submit work. The portrait competition was a great success with 1,082 entries. The winners, chosen by an expert jury of experts, consisting of Babs Gons, Sioe Jeng Tsao, Raquel van Haver, Marwan Magroun, Aukje Dekker and Jan Hoek, and by an online public vote, will be announced in the week of 17 June and highlighted during the opening of the exhibition at the Amsterdam Museum. The winning entries will receive a cash prize and a place in the exhibition at the Amsterdam Museum and the Frans Hals Museum. 

To be seen in Amsterdam and Haarlem

The exhibition Faces of North Holland can be seen at the Amsterdam Museum from 26 July to 10 November 2024. From 3 April to 17 August 2025, the exhibition can be seen at the Frans Hals Museum (location HAL, Grote Markt 16) in Haarlem. The exhibition at the Frans Hals Museum will be complemented by portraits from Haarlem and new stories by Streatenmakers Audiocollectief. 

Faces of North Holland is a project of the Amsterdam Museum and the Frans Hals Museum and is funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science under Basic Infrastructure (BIS) 2021-2024.

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