May 4, 2020

Wartime art: one hundred chairs for one hundred victims

Filed under: Art,History by Orangemaster @ 5:44 pm

At the end of WWII, 140 men were shot by the German occupiers at Rozenoord in Amsterdam South district, many of which were resistance fighters. The history of Rozenoord is particularly painful since the men were shot so close the liberation.

Located in the Amstelpark in Amsterdam South district, the Rozenoord monument saw the light of day thanks to an initiative of local residents. Artist Ram Katzir designed the new monument to give all the victims a worthy memorial place. Instead of one monument for 100 people Katzir gave every person their own monument.

Anchored in cement with names on plaques, one hundred chairs are spread out over a green space as if they were barely sat in and positioned randomly. However, the chairs were actually placed according to information about the way the victims were shot. There’s also plaques for those who could not be identified.

The space between the chairs invites visitors to walk around and see who these people were. They can also be sat on, as the piece is meant to be interactive. By sitting down, one can see the other ‘victims’ around them, turning the visitors into participants.

(Link and photo:

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November 14, 2019

Van Gogh painting finds its way back home

Filed under: Art,History by Orangemaster @ 9:00 pm

An early Vincent Van Gogh painting was recently bought for 2.8 million euro at Sotheby’s in New York City by the Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum together with the Drents Museum in Assen, Drenthe. The auction house has estimated the painting would fetch a mere 650,000. but considering the price that was paid, there’s was quite a bit of interesting in acquiring the painting. The money used to buy the painting comes from funds and lotteries, which acts as art subsidies.

Experts claim that there are only five Van Gogh artworks from his ‘Drenthe period’ and now they are all in the Netherlands. The Van Gogh Museum had three of them, and the Drentse Museum had one. The newly acquired painting, ‘Onkruid verbrandende boer’ (roughly ‘Farmer Burning Weeds’), will be exhibited back and forth between the two museums.

(Link and image:

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October 26, 2019

The Netherlands still a major drug hub

Filed under: Health by Orangemaster @ 11:09 am

According to a study published this week, The Netherlands makes the top of the list for the highest rate of MDMA (aka x, xtc, ecstasy and molly) use. The study is the ‘largest wastewater based epidemiology study ever performed in terms of cities (120) and countries (37) involved and of the monitoring duration (2011–17).’ Scientists from around the world sampled wastewater for drug residue, which is said to be an increasingly popular method to track patterns in the global illicit drug market over the past decade.

Different places have different favourites as well. Results showed that overall drug use was most prevalent cities such as Antwerp, Amsterdam, Zurich, London, and Barcelona, while cities in Greece, Portugal, Finland, Poland, and Sweden had the lowest rates of drug residue in wastewater. I bet the latter drink instead, but that’s an uneducated guess. And there’s no denying that people do come to Amsterdam to do drugs despite any city marketing spin to the contrary.

Cocaine was most popular in London, Bristol, Amsterdam, Zurich, Geneva, St Gallen, and Antwerp. While the Netherlands had the highest rates of MDMA use, the drug was also popular in Helsinki, Oslo, Brussels, Dortmund, Zagreb, Zurich, Geneva, and Barcelona.

Not only is the use of MDMA a public health issue, the amount of chemical dumping that apparently goes on in Noord-Brabant is terrible for the environment. Basically, anybody taking MDMA is also indirectly contributing to this problem. The study also states that MDMA use was big in Eindhoven, Utrecht and Amsterdam.

More background on why the Netherlands is a drug hub:

‘The Netherlands is the cocaine hub of Europe’

Dutch cities do well as drug capitals

(Link:, Photo: DEA)

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September 28, 2019

Dutch touch on Amazon’s ‘Undone’ by Amsterdam’s Hisko Hulsing

Filed under: Comics,Film by Orangemaster @ 12:51 pm

Versatile artist Hisko Hulsing from Amsterdam, known on this blog and from Rotterdam-based comic magazine Zone 5300, has directed ‘Undone’, co-created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (creator of Bojack Horseman) and Kate Purdy (a writer on Bojack), released by Amazon Studios and co-produced by Michael Eisner’s company Tornante, Submarine Productions Amsterdam, and Minnow Mountain Texas. It premiered on 13 September.

Exploring the elastic nature of reality, the series centers around Alma (Rosa Salazar), a 28-year-old living in San Antonio, Texas, who discovers she has a new relationship to time after nearly dying in a car accident. She learns to harness this new ability in order to find out the truth about the death of her father (Bob Odenkirk).

For Undone, Hulsing used rotoscoping together with actual oil-painted backgrounds giving the animation an old school cinematic feel – a fresh change from all of you bored to tears with the Cal Arts style dominating the last decade of animation.

Here’s the trailer:

(Link:, Image: Hisko Hulsing)

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September 25, 2019

NEMO Science Museum gets huge Hofman statue

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 4:16 pm

The NEMO Science Museum in downtown Amsterdam has recently bought and installed a 8.5-meter-high statue by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman.

It wasn’t easy to install: the artwork, A Handstand, modelled after Hofman’s 11-year-old son, took 20 people to install and acts as a centrepiece for the museum and its new exhibition, Humania, about humans, to open on 23 November. Only then will people be able to admire the artwork in person.

A Handstand shows the world upside down. Made of lycra, the skeleton can be see on the outside as a costume, while the child is inside (not the real one). There’s also a lot of detail in the muscles and bones of the body, so that it really looks like how a boy would tense his muscles when doing a handstand. The whole thing weighs 400 kilos and needed four stories of space indoors to be able to install it properly.

(Link:, Photo:

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August 4, 2019

Lost poetry about De Jordaan found on tape

Filed under: History,Technology by Orangemaster @ 2:54 pm

Dutchman Wisse Beets bought a second-hand car to go on holiday, and bought some tapes [aka compact cassettes or cassettes for the tape player in the car. To his delight, one of the tapes he bought had an elderly woman’s poetry from the 1980s on it about the Jordaan district of Amsterdam, and now Beets wants to know more about Coby, the voice on the tape.

Coby was probably born in 1926, making her about 93 today, as she says he was 14 when WWII broke out. Since the tape was bought for 0,10 euro in a second-hand shop, she’s most probably deceased and her stuff was brought there to be sold. She tells of her life in the Jordaan and of the cafes she frequented in an honest and beautiful manner that Beets couldn’t ignore. He decided to go to many of the cafes she mentioned to find anybody who might know who she is, but could not find anybody who knew who the mysterious Coby.

Then Coby went down to famous Jordaan cafe De Rooie Nelis which has been around since 1937 and where owner Sien and her husband Gerrit recognised Coby and called her ‘Kleine Coby’ (‘Little Coby’), claiming that she is in fact deceased. Sien mentions a few anecdotes like the men in her life, including the fact that she has two sons that could still be around.

The film is in Dutch, which is why we wrote about it in English. I’ve talked and drank with Sien, she is the queen of the Jordaan bar none.


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August 1, 2019

Visit Amsterdam and help clean the canals

Filed under: Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 10:46 am

By now you’ve probably heard of overtourism, and that Amsterdam is one of the European capitals affected by it. People are going to continue to come to Amsterdam, but there are ways of not being a nuisance and contribute to a positive atmosphere: helping the city clean up the plastic in the canals.

Set up eight years ago, Dutch group Plastic Whale aims at creating economic value from the plastic waste the boat tours dredge from the canals. Plastic bottles are separated from the rest of the rubbish and recycled to be used in office furniture or even in building more Plastic Whale boats. They also have tours of Rotterdam, which is not yet overrun by tourists, where they attracted some 12,000 visitors in 2018 just to fish some plastic.

Plastic Whale’s founder Marius Smit says that despite the growing strain on Amsterdam from huge numbers of tourists, local residents are also “careless with their own waste”. I can attest to this even outside the city centre as I’m an ‘adoptant’ of the bins on my street. “The city’s bins fill up more quickly because of the numbers of tourists […]. Before you know it, there is a lot of waste on the streets, then it begins to rain or the wind begins to blow and it rains or blows into the canals,” Smit adds.

Britain’s Prince Harry was supposed to be one of the visitors earlier this year but had to cancel due to the birth of his son Archie.


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July 19, 2019

Amsterdam and Utrecht to get legit LEGO shops

Filed under: Dutch first,General by Orangemaster @ 1:08 pm


Utrecht and Amsterdam are poised to be the first Dutch cities to get official LEGO shops, which should be open later this year, and nope, we don’t know where yet, but I’m fairly confident we will hear about it. Although LEGO franchises have opened in the Netherlands before, this is the first time LEGO itself will be opening a shop. The Danish manufacturer has about 130 official stores worldwide, including in Germany and France as far as close to the Netherlands is concerned.

Yes, it’s true, in North American English we say ‘legos’ instead of LEGO, to make it a plural, referring to the blocks. Once that Twitter conversation got going recently, someone came in with ‘but we also have Legolas’, referring to the Lord of the Rings characters, and we all had a good laugh and moved on.

Here are some of our past cool LEGO stories:

(Link:, photo by Nick Barrett on

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June 11, 2019

Enforcement cracks down on impromptu pétanque tournament

Filed under: Sports by Orangemaster @ 2:03 pm

Enforcers (non-cops) have had to crack down on an improvised pétanque (called ‘jeu de boules’ in Dutch, aka boules in English, so all French words) tournament on the Museumplein in Amsterdam South. Some 300 players were going at it, but they didn’t have a permit to do so and the fun was over.

The whole idea was to throw a few balls, but the enforcers were not convinced. The district authorities for this rather posh neighbourhood also said that the pétanque players needed to have a permit for any ‘event’ over 100 participants. ‘Safety cannot be guaranteed. The balls are heavy and there are children around. And there’s a basketball court as well.’

There are a lot of pétanque courts in Amsterdam – I say this without any statistics, but knowing they are scattered over the city, including one about 300 metres from my house. But yeah, 300 people is definitely too big a gathering legally speaking. And before anyone laughs at the heavy balls argument: I have vivid memories of losing a toenail from dropping one of those metal balls on my foot when I was six.


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June 8, 2019

Amsterdam to get a drugs museum

Filed under: Dutch first,General,Health by Orangemaster @ 8:46 pm

Poppi is slated to be the first-ever drugs museum of The Netherlands in Amsterdam.

According to the founders, the country does not have a public institution which offers low-threshold education on drug policy and addiction. Misconceptions about drugs are widespread, and the story of drugs is not black and white.

Poppi plans to engage visitors and inform them from different perspectives. They want people to form an opinion about drugs based on knowledge and facts, and not just on emotions as is often the case.

For anyone in Amsterdam this month, you can find out more Poppi and donate all while having drinks at on June 16 where Poppi will be presenting its project.

Find out more about Poppi in this video:

(Link:, Photo: DEA)

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