Amsterdam! by Ed van der Elsken

If you happen to be in Amsterdam do yourself the favour of not missing this!


Every time i rode my bike in the Vijzelstraat i would be hooked on that poster of Amsterdam! by Ed van der Elsken which is based on the photographer’s book under the same name and features life in the streets of Amsterdam between 1947 and 1970. As usual for any working person, times flies by and you don’t seem to be doing the side-things you really feel like doing. Life, i mean. And since my holiday month was there all of a sudden, i got used to the idea that i’d miss another exhibition i really wanted to visit. I mean, just google images of Ed van der Elsken’s work. Besides the fact that he captured the Amsterdam i wish i could have experienced (well, let’s except the war-period), all his work is filled up with… life. Bikes, weirdos, classic cars, street subcultures, men in suits, woman in hair-does, fancy gatherings, rebellious movements, post-war poverty, the youth and its statements, the old-folks and their habits, the typical venues and the iconic streets and all the odd characters and situations which took place on the streets within that period of time. What a constrast with today’s Amsterdam, the postcard Amsterdam, which nevertheless its charms, has so litle space for spontaneity and non-styled people and events.


Van der Elsken describes in the audiotour this moment in which he felt particularly moved by this scenario, after the second world war, of a wall depicting a literal “I live”. This audio tour is an extra gain in relation to the book, with the author’s testemonies and sometimes the ones of people depicted in the photos too. The end of my story you already guessed: as soon as i came back from holiday i went to the Stadsarchief. And just on time : the exhibition will be just 3 more days open. There i renewed my vows of not missing on my beloved city’s life anymore.

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