Using banners, flags, and buildings, different groups in society make themselves more visible. Such claims to space in the city can be fleeting or transitory (through demonstrations), can manifest through semi-permanent expressions (of colours or logos), or through permanent architectures and urban developments. Such visibilities are not risk, but can also offer protection.
In this exhibition, we explore how design can contribute to visibility in the act ofappropriation of the urban built environment.
Throughout the centuries, threatened or misunderstood groups have found ways to establish their mark within the urban fabric of Amsterdam. What was once a concealed attic or a cellar (Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, Al Kabir Mosque), has transformed into visible and permanent architectures (Posthoornkerk, Westermoskee). Buildings can acknowledge the rights and visibilities of single working women (Oranjehof, 1942). Monuments can help foster protection of and social recognition for the LGBTQIA+ community (Homomonument, 1987).
The struggle for the visibility, acceptance, and protection for all the residents of Amsterdam is far from over. With this exhibition we invite you to consider selected instances of how architecture or design has contributed to the visibility and safety of certain social groups and to reflect upon their impact. Safe Spaces does not claim to be comprehensive, but seeks to bring about a new sense of awareness and understanding of the relationship between visibility and safety in urban condition. Thus raising the question how designers, architects, policymakers and the residents of the city can contribute towards an open and inclusive Amsterdam, where safety is a right for everyone.
This exhibition is curated in collaboration with researcher and architect Ali T. As’ad (Curatorial Research Collective), Cognizant Digital Business, Dutch Design Foundation, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and Studioninedots.