Sunday Seminar: Art and Counterculture – Current-Day Activism

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?

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?

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, spoken word
3.05 pm – Welcome and introduction by Jeftha Pattikawa
3.15 pm – Lecture Devika Partiman 
3.35 pm – In conversation with Naomie Pieter, Jerry Afriyie, Devika Partiman, Massih Hutak
4.05 pm – BREAK
4.15 pm – Jerry Afriyie, spoken word
4.20 pm – In conversation with Naomie Pieter, Jerry Afriyie, Devika Partiman, Massih Hutak, Jeftha Pattikawa

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Museumplein 10,

1071 DJ,


+31 (0)20 5732911,,

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15-17 hrs

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