Theory — 9 Dec 2018

In conjunction with the exhibition Amsterdam, The Magic Center a program of lectures, performances and debate will take place at the Stedelijk Museum, with young activists speaking about current-day activism. What does activism mean to you? Which role does art play in this?
Museumticket + €3
Teijin Auditorium
9 Dec 2018, 3 pm until 5 pm
Main language

The exhibition Amsterdam, The Magic Center. Art and Counterculture 1967-1970 shows how in the late 1960s, Amsterdam develops into a progressive and artistic haven, a hub and laboratory for innovations in art and (counter) culture. It depicts the city as a center of the world, where artists and activists confronted traditional structures in society. Art played a large part in this: while emancipation and social critique were important subjects within the arts, art was also employed as a form of resistance. But of course, art is not the only available medium. Diversity and versatility are crucial aspects of activism.

This Sunday Seminar on December 9th takes place in between two main anchoring points of Dutch society: the annual Sinterklaas celebration on 5 December and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December. The point of departure for this program will be the legacy of the 1960s, which was imbued with the notion that anything was possible and activists could build a better future. How much of this mindset and this perspective has survived?

In this seminar we engage more deeply with the question exactly what the characteristics of (current-day) activism are. Which means are available to us for resisting existing power structures? Are there forms of small-scale and individual resistance? And how does the activism of the 1960s relate to modern-day activism, in a society that sees nationalism on the rise and a growing presence of the alt-right movement?

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While the first part of the program is aimed at the characteristics of activism, the second part puts the role of institutions – and the museum in particular – up for discussion. What is, or should be, the role of the museum when history is the subject of an exhibition? Which role can art play in the current discussion regarding the Zwarte Piet figure and the wider antiracism debate?


3 pm
Jerry Afriyie, poetry
3.10 pm
Welcome and introduction by Jeftha Pattikawa
3.20 pm
Lecture Devika Partiman 
3.40 pm
In conversation with: Naomie Pieter, Jerry Afriyie, Devika Partiman, Massih Hutak moderated by Maurice Seleky
4.10 pm
Jerry Afriyie, poetry
4.15 pm
In conversation with Naomie Pieter, Jerry Afriyie, Devika Partiman, Massih Hutak, Jeftha Pattikawa moderated by Maurice Seleky

about the speakers


Devika Partiman (1988) is a social activist and organizer. She is the initiator of ‘Stem op een Vrouw’, a foundation that promotes the number of women elected in politics (and run for political positions) in the Netherlands. She is also active at Stichting Nederland Wordt Beter, known for the Zwarte Piet is Racisme movement. An event producer by origin, Partiman has produced band competitions and various festivals and was program maker for New Europeans, among others. A recurring theme in her work is identifying defects in our democracy, and offering solutions to them. Representation is always an important part of these solutions.


As a poet Jerry can be found on large and small stages across the country: from the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam and TivoliVredenburg Utrecht to meetings and festivals such as Welcome to The Village in Friesland. When Jerry is not involved with poetry he writes op-ed pieces about social issues that matter to him. His opinion pieces regularly appear in the NRC, Het Parool, Trouw and De Volkskrant newspapers and on, amongst others. As a social critic he provides guest lectures on racism, exclusion and awareness about the colonial and slavery history of the Netherlands through his foundation Nederland Wordt Beter. Various organizations, schools and municipalities in the Netherlands call on Jerry in combating everyday racism, social exclusion and inequality. In 2011, together with fellow artists, he initiated the awareness campaign Zwarte Piet is Racisme.


Naomie Pieter is a queer and anti-racist activist whose work centers on making space for the intersections of those communities. She is the founder of 'Daughters of Ivory' and the co-founder of 'Black Queer & Trans Resistance NL', as well as the initiator of Pride of Color Amsterdam, the first committee within Amsterdam Pride to focus on the inclusion and empowerment of bi-cultural LGBTI+. She also organises Pon De Pride, a party at Melkweg club that offers a safe space for black and other LGBTI+ people of color to enjoy dancehall music. Naomie is currently setting up a Black Queer Archive to give visibility to stories that are lacking in the historiography of the Netherlands.


Seleky (Utrecht, 1982) graduated in Dutch Law from the University of Amsterdam and obtained a propaedeutic diploma at the Netherlands Film and Television Academy. He also attended the BKB Academy, a renowned series of masterclasses on political campaigns and media strategy. Despite being a lawyer by training, Seleky opted for a career in the creative industry. He worked as a PR & communication strategist at Coebergh Communicatie & PR and Vandejong Creative Agency, and was a partner of Novel Creative Consultancy. Since 2017 he is Head of Marketing & Communication at Pakhuis de Zwijger, an independent platform for innovation and creation in Amsterdam. He also regularly presents public programs. In 2010 Ambo-Anthos Uitgevers published Seleky’s debut novel Ego Faber, which in 2011 was awarded the BoArte Culture Prize. As a founder of Nieuwe Letteren, the foundation that organizes the annual Young Writers' Evening, he also offered a platform to dozens of young writers. His second novel A tragedy in New York was published in 2017 by Ambo-Anthos.

This seminar has been developed in collaboration with Studio I.