Rebuilding Singelgracht public intervention is based on interacting with tourists in Amsterdam to introduce them the so-called “Rebuilding Singelgracht Project” designed by the municipality, which aims to optimize Amsterdam for the growing flow of tourists. Students approached tourists by pretending that they are municipality officials who give information on the project, which the students designed for the purpose of the performance, in the streets of Amsterdam. The project is described as follows in the hand-out the students distributed: “The project changes parts of the city from 17th century infrastructure to modern and vibrant shopping streets. The renewal means more space for tourists and more space to enjoy Amsterdam. With this project, the canal will be drained, filled and rebuilt into the new Singelgracht, which will transform the canal into a street.” The tourists are asked their opinion and given a small bottle filled with canal water as a souvenir. During the intervention, various conversations are held with the tourists and passersby about the current conditions of the city, the increasing number of tourists in Amsterdam, the gentrification of the city and possible urban policies that deal with or fall short in tackling with these issues. These conversations, with a humorous and critical tone, aim at questioning and discussing the consumption-oriented and gentrified structuring of the city and the municipal policies’ capacity in addressing the increasing touristization and commodification of public spaces.

The intervention is inspired and shaped by the Situationist International’s urban theories (“Formulary for a New Urbanism”, “Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography”, “Proposals for Really Improving the City of Paris”) and the concepts they have developed in their writings, such as “psychogeography” and “detournement” (in Ken Knabb, Situationist International Anthology, 2006). Translating these theories into the contemporary urban setting has allowed the students to revisit and reevaluate the theories and concepts themselves, shedding light on their efficacy and explanatory power today. Students recorded their conversations by getting permission from the people they interacted, photographed the objects they used, such as the small bottles filled with canal water, and distributed the flyer they prepared during their presentation of their theoretical and practical findings.

Rebuilding Singelgracht – Public Intervention

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