Since the moment I first stepped into Utrech from the back of the train station, I felt ‘something different’ hovering in the crisp winter air. It was something I haven’t ever experienced in Amsterdam, something tangible in the streets and – yet – seemingly impossible to pinpoint.
“We should ask Ammar what the traditional games played in Egypt are. Then we teach them to the kids of Bijlmer and arrange a play-day for the vernissage of the mural” I said to Anouk while we were setting the dinner table and a full white moon was shining on the wide, iconic windows of Amsterdam’s buildings.
On that afternoon, Anouk had shown me the ‘ghetto of Amsterdam’ and I couldn’t get over all those kids from various ethnicities playing together, or their laughs echoing over the lake that majestically mirrored the 11-storey wall that soon would have been painted by Ammar Abo Bakr.
Amsterdam is unlike any other city for the Iranian activist-artist brothers Icy & Sot.
Amsterdam is where they had their first solo exhibition abroad in 2011, taking their first step into the international art scene. It was an internationally acclaimed first step at that, which eventually let them to escape the persecution and censorship they experienced in their home country.
Blessed by the sun, we made the most of this very “undutch” day by taking a tour of the beautiful gardens, the picturesque towns, and the historic castles and fortresses that once protected Amsterdam.
Those fortresses formed a 135-kilometre-long ring of fortifications that have been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list.