29 March 2024

Interview Martina Halsema from Alethea Talks

We are happy to share an interview with Martina Halsema featured in Alethea Talks:

The art weekend in Amsterdam is just around the corner. The city is worth a trip, but if you can stroll through the galleries, all the better. From 29 May to 2 June 2024, the 12th edition of Amsterdam Art Week will take place. The city will be transformed into a vibrant centre for contemporary art, with over 200 artists in more than 70 locations. The organisers expect the event to attract more than 35,000 international visitors. If you are travelling by car, it is best to stop at the Park&Ride locations, as the city of Amsterdam began restricting car traffic in the city centre on 1 January 2024. Currently, even tour buses are finding it difficult to get into the city centre. 

As everywhere, the challenges for Dutch artists have increased, as has the rising cost of living and the inflation of creative spaces. To improve the living and working conditions of Dutch artists, Amsterdam Art Week is also holding a symposium on 29 May, together with the Prince Claus Fund.

We spoke to Director Martina Halsema, who revealed her personal highlights in an interview, as well as what it takes to organise such a large event.

What are your personal highlights?

“As every year, I look forward to our opening with the Rijksakademie Open Studios Wednesday evening. Every year you are surprised and challenged by the work the artists show in the middle or at the end of their residency period. I am also very curious to see Billy Bultheel’s performance on Thursday evening. The Thief’s Journal: Songs of Decreation. which will be on show in Amsterdam for the first time. He is a composer working at the intersection of music, performance, and installation, inspired by the Brutalist architecture of the Thomas Church in Amsterdam. With prior to that, the gallery night, the perfect time to explore the gallery scene, wander through the city and meet everyone making their round. Saturday evening we shine our light on Amsterdam Noord, an emerging art place with new and renowned venues. And of course it’s hard for me to choose because I’m also very much looking forward to the symposium with our lovely partners and the rest of the programming. “

What is the current situation for artists in the city, both socially and politically?

“Socially and politically, artists in Amsterdam face both opportunities and challenges. Although the city boasts a vibrant cultural scene and a supportive artistic community, rising costs of living and gentrification threaten creative spaces. In addition, issues such as diversity, inclusion and sustainability are increasingly central to artistic discourse and advocacy efforts. This is actually one of our focus points for the Symposium we organise on Wednesday the 29th with Prince Claus Fund, Dutch Culture, De Rijksakademie, De Appel and Framer Framed. “

What challenges do up-and-coming Dutch artists have to face?

“Various obstacles, including limited funding and exhibition opportunities, navigating the art market, and establishing a sustainable career. Access to affordable studio spaces and mentorship programs remains crucial for nurturing emerging talent and fostering artistic innovation.”

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