Open Call: Refresh Amsterdam #2

War & Conflict

31 May - 24 June
Amstel 51

Open call

We invite makers to submit their proposals for the second edition of Refresh Amsterdam, themed around War & Conflict.

Refresh Amsterdam
is a biennial initiative of the Amsterdam Museum in which contemporary makers with an artistic practice present their vision on urban themes in relation to the city of Amsterdam. This second edition is organized in cooperation with the art collective We Sell Reality. Additional partners include AGA LAB, de Appel, CBK Zuidoost, Framer Framed, Het HEM, De Kleine Komedie, Melkweg Expo, OSCAM, Pakhuis de Zwijger, Rijksakademie, ROZENSTRAAT – a rose is a rose is a rose, The Black Archives, Tolhuistuin, and W139. Refresh Amsterdam will take place from May through October 2023.

Refresh Amsterdam #2 – War & Conflict

This edition of Refresh Amsterdam addresses the impact of international war and conflict on the contemporary city, and in particular on its inhabitants and social structures. It is instigated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the societal dialogue around associated topics. Amsterdam has long viewed itself as a city of freedom and a place of refuge. But what does war do to a city and to our social intercourse? Why do certain wars and conflicts situations generate more solidarity than others?

Even in Amsterdam, war and conflict are often close by, although this is sometimes not apparent to everyone. War and conflict serve to shape the city as well as the social fabric of Amsterdam; this includes people who have found a new home here, the xenophobia that often accompanies migration and international conflict, who is able to reside in which neighbourhood, or those who are simply unable to find shelter. How do people with a refugee background see the city? Their resistance and resilience all too often remains underexposed. Conflicts have fueled an influx of refugees here, from the fall of Antwerp in 1584 to the war in Syria that began in 2011. Every day, Amsterdammers with all kinds of backgrounds contribute to the city as it is today. The origins of Amsterdam’s diversity are therefore also rooted in the suffering caused by war, colonialism, and other crises. Yet the impact of such situations is unfortunately disproportionately shared. In any crisis, the poorer, more vulnerable groups in society are the first to feel it and the most affected by it.

We call on makers to reflect on the impact of war and conflict on the city of Amsterdam. We expressly extend this invitation to all kinds of disciplines, from theater and performance to music, poetry, design, and visual arts. With this open call, we are seeking creative makers or collectives with an artistic practice which touches on this theme. Selected proposals will be presented as exhibitions and public programming at the Amsterdam Museum and/or at AGA LAB, de Appel, CBK Zuidoost, Framer Framed, Het HEM, De Kleine Komedie, Melkweg Expo, OSCAM, Pakhuis de Zwijger, Rijksakademie, ROZENSTRAAT – a rose is a rose is a rose, The Black Archives, Tolhuistuin, and W139, as well as other initiatives.

At the conclusion of Refresh Amsterdam, several works will be purchased for the collection of the Amsterdam Museum. The museum’s collection policy is strongly focused on the power of stories and carried out in accordance with the New Narratives programming trajectory, on polyvocality and underexposed histories and perspectives in relation to the city of Amsterdam.

Practical Information

  • Makers who live and work in the Netherlands may submit proposals
  • Proposals must be about new or existing work not older than two years
  • Remuneration for the selected makers will be made according to the guidelines for artists’ fees and the Fair Practice Code
  • A production budget of €2,000 is available (strictly for new work)
  • The application deadline is June 24, 2022
  • Interviews with shortlisted candidates will take place from 1 to 14 September, 2022, after which the final selection will be determined at the end of September
  • All entries must be submitted using the online application form
  • Contact:

Jury members

Proposals will be assessed by a selection committee consisting of the following individuals: 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), Petra Sluijters (Melkweg Expo), Sjoerd Kloosterhuis (ROZENSTRAAT – a rose is a rose is a rose), Margarita Osipian (W139), Bengin Dawod, Chris Keulemans and Sahar Shirzad.

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Jury members

Proposals will be assessed by a selection committee consisting of the following individuals: 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), Petra Sluijters (Melkweg Expo), Sjoerd Kloosterhuis (ROZENSTRAAT – a rose is a rose is a rose), Margarita Osipian (W139), Bengin Dawod, Chris Keulemans and Sahar Shirzad.

We Sell Reality is a socially defiant label founded by a collective. We Sell Reality reflects on the paradox of borders that are closed for some, while open for others. For migrants who lack financial means and with whom we, in the West, find it difficult or impossible to identify, Euopean borders are all but impossible to traverse. And these borders are not just found on the periphery of Europe. As long as a refugee has not been granted official refugee status, they as a person remain restricted in every way. The position of dependence that arises for some of them as a result is made visible by We Sell Reality. The team at We Sell Reality develops products and presentations with the goal of providing insight into the lives of undocumented refugees.

Imara Limon is a curator of contemporary art at the Amsterdam Museum. Recent exhibitions include Monument of Regents: Natasja Kensmil (2020–2021) and Colonial Stories: Work in Progress (on view until October 2022). Limon developed the New Narratives program for advancing equity in the Amsterdam Museum. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Centraal Museum Utrecht.

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Prof.dr. Margriet Schavemaker is artistic director of the Amsterdam Museum. She received her education as an art historian and philosopher at the University of Amsterdam and specializes in modern and contemporary culture and museums. Counterculture, feminism, new media, and diversity and inclusion are at the heart of her multidisciplinary practice, which largely encompasses the making of exhibitions, public programs, and publications, as well as writing, lecturing, and media appearances.

Huib Haye van der Werf
is currently interim director at de Appel in Amsterdam. Prior to that, he initiated and ran mistral in Amsterdam with Radna Rumping, dedicated to archives and abundance. In 2019 he was appointed curator of the Yinchuan Biennale 2020 in China (canceled due to Covid-19). From 2013 until 2020, he was head of the artistic program at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht. Further endeavors include serving as founder/curator for international social/artistic commissioning organization TAAK from 2012 until 2014, curator for the Foundation for Art in Public Space (SKOR) from 2011 until 2012, and curator for the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi) in Rotterdam – now Het Nieuwe Instituut – from 2008 until 2011. In addition, he writes fiction, children’s stories, and reviews for periodicals such as Artforum, Metropolis M, Mousse Magazine, Manifesta Journal, and Open, as well as various artist’s publications and film/performance productions. He lives in Amsterdam and is the father of an eight-year-old.

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Emily Shin-Jie Lee is a coordinator of residencies, social practice, and academic collaborations at Framer Framed. Her work is often realized through discursive formats involving multiple partners and interlocutors. Recent projects include: Declaring Distance (2022), an annual residency with Indonesian artist Theo Frids Hutabarat in collaboration with Atelier KITLV; Struggle and Solidarity (2022), a workshop organized together with Indonesian collective Taring Padi; and Drawing Stories (2020) and Shaping Feelings (2021), two digital presentations for the Corona in the City project at Amsterdam Museum involving artists and communities in Amsterdam.

Rita Ouédraogo
works as an exhibition and public program organizer and researcher at Framer Framed. Her work is informed by her interest in the African diaspora, decolonizing institutions, institutional racism, popular culture, and social issues. Ouédraogo has worked on various projects aimed at making museum collections more widely accessible, as well as on projects outside of institutional structures. She researches questions related to cooperation and solidarity that explore modes of collaborative practices across power differentials, especially within a decolonial framework. Rita works and lives in Amsterdam.

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Petra Sluijters is programmer at Melkweg Expo. In addition, she is a freelance creative director, has her own hypnotherapy practice, and is a confidant for students at IVKO, a secondary art school. Sluijters lives and works in Amsterdam and is mother to a daughter and son. Her focus is on mental health, with the ambition to integrate well-being within the art world.

Sjoerd Kloosterhuis is an experienced, independent curator who resides in Amsterdam and Diepenveen. Performance, video, and installations are recurring media in the presentations he makes. He is one of the founders of Rozenstraat – a rose is a rose is a rose, a project space in Amsterdam’s Jordaan that focuses specifically on creating solo exhibitions with artists who have already established a foothold in the art world. There he is involved in both policy and artistic issues. Recent projects include solo and group exhibitions with Lynn Hershman Leeson, Margaret Haines & Josefin Arnell, and Grace Schwindt.

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Margarita Osipian is a curator at W139. She is also a researcher and writer, living and working in Amsterdam. Engaging with the intersections and frictions between art, design, technology, and language, she organizes collaborative projects both in formal institutions and in more precarious and fleeting spaces. Holding an MA in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam and an MA in English Literature from the University of Toronto, her research has focused on visual culture, technology, and the carceral state. Margarita is also part of The Hmm, a platform for internet cultures, and part of the curatorial team of Sonic Acts. She has done programming and curated exhibitions for W139, Salwa Foundation, TodaysArt, Bits of Freedom, Tetem, Hackers & Designers, and Mediamatic, among others.

Bengin Dawod
is an architect, urban designer, adviser, and teacher. Among other things, Dawod has advised the city of Amsterdam on the development strategy for the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. He developed “The Soul of the City” method for the reconstruction of post-conflict cities, which calls for thinking beyond current practice and encompasses a wider range of disciplines than professionally trained architects and urban designers, who in turn might better understand the invisible layer of the city through their collaboration.

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Chris Keulemans is a traveling author, journalist, moderator, and educator who calls Amsterdam-Noord home. He was previously the founder and/or artistic head of Perdu, de Balie, and the Tolhuistuin. In his latest book, Gastvrijheid, he writes: “Amsterdam is never devastated; people who have experienced an earthquake or civil war are now settling here, slightly spooked people who no longer trust that the walls that are standing today will continue to do so tomorrow.” His book is based on journeys to places like Beirut, Ramallah, Rojava, Sarajevo, Pristina, Algiers, and elsewhere, often seeking out artists who are attempting to reinvent their city after a crisis.

Sahar Shirzad
is a writer, program maker and human rights activist. As a critical thinker, she works on translating complicated matters to a broad audience in creative ways. With Refugee Millennials, she created a platform for former refugees who have been living in the Netherlands for more than 20 years. She centralizes humanity and compassion by focusing on personal stories within polarizing topics, such as the failing refugee policies in the Netherlands. Currently, she works as an independent program maker and pushes an activist agenda in her work involving human rights.