A place beyond belief: spaces for contemporary art in Amsterdam-Noord

This post will be a bit different since I was interested in how and why exhibition spaces in Amsterdam-Noord decided to settle in the neighbourhood and what they find inspiring.

The conversation starts with Tanja Karreman, director at Nieuw Dakota, a space for translocal art, which is situated at the NDSM wharf. Tanja has been part of the team behind Nieuw Dakota for 7 years now. We talked about contemporary art, the typical visitors of Nieuw Dakota and how global culture increasingly affects our local identity.


Back in 2010, there was no place for the visual representation of art in Amsterdam-Noord. This was how Nieuw Dakota was born. In addition to that, two of the founding members of the board are originally from the neighbourhood, so Amsterdam-Noord was the natural choice to set up the gallery.

The typical visitor…

ranges from locals and people, who have never been to a museum or a gallery before, to visitors of the NDSM area and tourists, eager to explore the neighbourhood, up to educational groups (from primary schools up to universities), and experts in contemporary art. The space frequently collaborates with partners around the globe (such as the Art Academy in Dubai for example) and is open to projects with local spaces and initiatives, such as 24hrs Noord or Framer Framed for example, also a space for contemporary art, located in Amsterdam-Noord.

Het Magnetische Noorden, Theater van de Tijdelijke Evacuatie, Sylvie Zijlmans/ Hewald Jongenelis, september 2015

Art moves you

Art touches and moves people in the most unexpected ways. Recently Tanja Karreman met a lady at a local store. This lady, who had apparently never been to a museum before, ended up becoming part of the recent Wijk-ambassadors program at Nieuw Dakota! The program aims at including residents in the agenda of the space, by inviting them to a wide range of events and by that motivating them to refer neighbours and friends to visit the gallery.

Why we need art

This rather complex question is more about how art enhances our lives. The role of art, so Tanja Karreman, is the one of helping us understand the complexity of life in a better way. In particular, it is art in the public space, the one which reaches the broader masses, that makes us look at a familiar setting from a different angle. A good example of such projects, under the hat of Nieuw Dakota are Het Magnetische Noorden and A Place Beyond Belief.

Het Magnetische Noorden, Theater van de Tijdelijke Evacuatie, Sylvie Zijlmans/ Hewald Jongenelis, september 2015

An upcoming project

Translokaal diner is a recent project of Nieuw Dakota, aiming at bringing residents together for a dinner in an informal setting and putting different topics for discussion, revolving around the place of local identities in an increasingly globalized world.  

A local artist to keep an eye for

Although the list with names is long, a few artists popped up in Tanja’s mind. An upcoming local artist is Antonio-Jose Guzman, who also lives in Amsterdam-Noord, and is part of the upcoming exhibition Monochromatic. Two other noorderlinge to watch out for are Niek Peters and Neil Fortune.

Antonio Jose Guzman, ELOO installation, Development Center for the Visual Arts, 12th Havana Biennial