Reflection workshop with Sandberg Institute

Subjective Atlas of Amsterdam

15.02.22 Emilie Tesch

In an old school in Amsterdam Zuid the third workshop for the Subjective Atlas took place. On the February 10, 2022, the students from the Sandberg Instituut shared how they conceive the city of Amsterdam as international students at Fabulous Future in the Scheldebuurt. 

Sandberg Institute

The Sandberg Instituut was established by former Gerrit Rietveld Academie Director Simon den Hertog in 1990. The Instituut has since become a recognized educational institution that offers several (temporary) Master’s programmes which reflect the dynamics of modern-day culture. The participants of the workshop were enrolled in the Master’s of the Instituut’s Design Department, a two-year programme that provides a collaborative environment for students to develop their projects and practices.

The students of this new generation of designers have a variety of backgrounds. The 10 participants that shared their experience of Amsterdam were for instance from Italy, Palestine, Lebanon, Spain, and Germany.

Hospitatie evenings

The international students of the Design Department of the Sandberg Institute have a different perspective on the city, both as non-Dutch immigrants and as creatives with diverse backgrounds. Therefore, the Sandberg Instituut is one of the eight partners in the two-year research project Subjective Atlas of Amsterdam, where we aim to map underrepresented perceptions of Amsterdam. Through this series of workshops, we collect individual reflections on the meaningful, striking, or underexposed phenomenon that typify Amsterdam.

How do you navigate this unwelcoming housing market as an international student? How does it affect your movement through the city?

During this third workshop of the Subjective Atlas, the participants reflected on how they experience the city. They asked themselves: What stands out to me in this urban environment and what do I wish to represent? Thereby, almost all participants contrasted their experience of Amsterdam with the place they are originally from.  Naturally, the discussion also pivoted towards the housing situation in Amsterdam. One Palestinian-Dutch participant shared her experience of an hospitatie-avond where she felt like she had to keep her Palestinian background hidden. How do you navigate this unwelcoming housing market as an international student? How does it affect your movement through the city? And how did the covid-crisis impact this? As some of the students moved to Amsterdam in the last two years, the covid situation has significantly impacted their perception of the city.

Social Media guides

During the brainstorming session, some students discussed how digital media initially guided them through Amsterdam. They were navigating the city based on information they found on social media. This leads us to reflect on how much our consumption of this city is dictated by our (para-)social interactions, especially for newly immigrated internationals. During the workshop, the Sandberg students highlighted their layered and diverse perceptions of Amsterdam as an urban environment, one that was strongly impacted by the pandemic.

After the discussion and brainstorming session, everyone proceeded to work on the mapping of the phenomenon that they have observed and experienced: from the parasocial exploration of Amsterdam and the collection of furniture that is put on the street by Amsterdammers, to mapping the housing situation in the city. The group discussed visual representations of these experiences through different mediums, such as photography, collages, maps and comic strips.

Editorial Room

In the coming weeks, the visual authors will elaborate on their contribution. The results of this research will be shown in a public Editorial space in Arcam (from 22 April 2022) and in the publication (December 2022).

The Subjective Atlas of Amsterdam is financially supported by the Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie and Ymere