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Written by thehotstepper

March 19, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Graffiti, Rotterdam

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Appropriate monuments in memory of Anna Blaman

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ROTTERDAM – 2010 is Anna Blaman Year. It was fifty years ago that the writer died in Rotterdam. With the creation of a monument reappraisal of herself and her work receives final form. The monument was designed by artist Maria Roosen and Arild Veld and was unveiled by Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb on Sept. 24.

The monument, Eenzaam Avontuur (Solitary Adventure), is a replica of a motorcycle because Blaman was regularly seen on such vehicle. In the 40s a woman on a motorcycle was a striking appearance. Anna Blaman was a prominent writer of great significance for homosexuals in the Netherlands. In the narrow-minded 50s she was one of the few who openly lived their sexual identity. Anna Blaman (Ben Liever Als Man – I’d rather be a man) is the pseudonym of Johanna Petronella Vrugt.

That the memorial stands on the Heemraadssingel, opposite the open university is very appropriate because Blaman was a teacher before devoting herself entirely to writing.
In the nearby Vliegerstraat an enlargement of the portrait of Blaman as P.C. Hooft Prize Winner can be admired. This second memorial is placed opposite the former home of Blaman and her family. Here she lived at number 50a, from 1928 until her death in 1960. The enlarged picture was painted by Willem Kerssemeijer and Cor Verboom of Advertising Atelier Leo Mineur.

Although the motorcycle stands for tough and independent and therefore naturally appeals to the imagination, the portrait was also much praised. Some can hardly believe it was painted. Anna Blaman is appropriately remembered with both monuments. Both are made for an artist by an artist. Both structures are clearly handicraft and show that they were created with love for the craft. They can be compared to the craft of the sharpening of words and phrases by Anna Blaman.

Where My Girls At?!

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Where My Girls At?!
This spring in ’t Gemaal op Zuid!

Representing women in Hiphop

The Historical Museum of Rotterdam put a spotlight on female Hiphop. An exhibition, performances, demonstrations and workshops show women’s influence in Hiphop. Music, lifestyle, fashion, dance and imagery within this diverse subculture are discussed. The exhibition at ’t Gemaal op Zuid and various events illustrate the history and current status of women in the Hiphop scene, both international and in perspective to Rotterdam.

Hiphop is at first sight a macho subculture, buts have women participated as early as the emergence of Hiphop in New York in the seventies. The exhibition gives an overview of female Hiphop based on five sections, each highlighting an aspect of the subculture:

Rotterdam ‘street’ stylist Isis Vaandrager shows the Old and New School Hiphop styles in clothing, accessories and other style elements, including some special model sneakers collection of Rotterdam’s Hiphop icon Aruna Vermeulen. In a stop motion animation the collection is brought to life.

The energy of ten female hip hop dancers from Rotterdam is captured by 18 year old film talent Yoji Moniz aka Brokelephant. The breakers, poppers, lockers, wackers and new style dancers each represent their own style.

The Female Hiphop jukebox is filled with a rich collection of music and videos, from Salt-N-Pepa to Lauryn Hill. Jee Nice (Jeannette Petri)of Anattitude Magazine presents the Hiphop Timeline, with music by female hip hop artists from 1973-2008.

Saskia Haex honors Queens of Graffiti in a series of screen prints with the most influential international graffiti artists. Graffiti Timeline shows tags and pieces over the years.

A series of films bring the feminine side of Hiphop alive. Besides (excerpts) from various international films by directors including Rokafella, Martha Cooper and Nika Kramer, Mike Redman directed a video especially for this exhibition. It is a compilation of  pictures of female MC’s from the Dutch Hiphop history.

‘t Gemaal is open Wed – Sat from 11 to 17 pm, admission free. Check it out!


Where My Girls At? is a 1999 smash hit song by 702, released as the first single from their second studio album 702. The track is produced by Missy Elliott.

Tangerino and the Grand Départ

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I was cycling from the city center to the Kop van Zuid, when I ran into an old friend: Tangerino. I had not seen him for such a long time! He was just standing there on one of the pillars of the Erasmusbrug. I guess he’s there to watch the Grand Départ, but in that case he has to wait until 3. July. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t look happy?

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April 4, 2010 at 8:47 am

Isle of Brienenoord – a green oasis in the heart of Rotterdam

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Brienenoord Island is a green oasis in the heart of Rotterdam. One can in an area of 21 ha enjoy a surprising number of plant and animal species. The tidal force of the Nieuwe Maas plays an important role. Large grazers (the famous Scottish Highlander) prevent massive afforestation and keep the island shaggy.
Thus it is said on the welcome sign at the entrance of the park. After one and a half hours walking, I unfortunately have not seen a Higlander. Yet I am enthusiastic about this area! So here’s some extra info.

In the nineteenth century some sand banks came to be at the place where now the Isle of Brienenoord is. They grew together and became overgrown with reeds, rush and willow. Early twentieth century the island that thus was created reduced the flow, so part of the sand bank was excavated. The sand from the excavation was used to increment the remaining part and the island of Brienenoord in its current form was born.

The island is over the time used for allotments, as a location for Youth Home and as an oil transshipment point of the NAM. The Island also did service as a dock to build parts for the subway tunnel, on behalf of the North-South metro connection. Early sixties, on the east side of the island, the Brienenoordbrug was built to establish another North-South connection.

Over time, the island is largely covered with forest. Some trees are so old that they fall over. The South Holland Landscape Foundation (Stichting Het Zuid-Hollands Landschap) , which is responsible for maintenance, let these trees to birds as the green woodpecker, wren and jay and many insect species. Although the island has been used for cultural and industrial purposes and (part of) the island is still used by people for recreational purposes, it’s fair to say that the Brienenoord Island is of ecological value.

In 2003 a trench system was dug in the eastern part of the island that strengthened the tidal force in the region. Freshwater tidal nature is among the rarest types of nature in the Netherlands.

The Nieuwe Maas is a tidal river. Twice a day the water rises and falls up to 175 cm. Not all plants enjoy it to take a ducking with the regularity of the clock. Therefor specific plant species are to be found along the shore edges. One such rarity is the Spin Palustris. The spring flowering plant with yellow flowers is of international importance. At the interface of land and water grows Bulrush, also a typical tidal species.

Many freshwater fish prefer to mate in the shallow water in the gullies. The young fish have to share their ‘kingdom’ with different types of freshwater mussels. For them, the tidal area is perfect too.
The flow can be so strong that edges crumble and steep banks arise. These provide breeding grounds for the Sand Martin and the Kingfisher.

So much for the official text. What I like about the island is diversity. The abandoned docks where the machines were left to become rusty scrap fill me with a sense of melodrama. And the view at the city from this point is fantastic. I continued my walk east along the banks of the Nieuwe Maas, where one can hear the distant hum of the diesels of the barges. Here you can get a good sense of the shaginess of the landscape.

On the far end of the island, beyond the tidal gullies  it is obvious that the park is not only a place for nature lovers. The pillars on which the Brienenoordbrug rests are a colourful display of various forms of graffiti. It’s either because of the drawings and tags, or because of the continuous murmur of cars passing  us over our heads, that this part of the island is rather more urban than natural.

The difference is fascinating! Because I’m used to sound everywhere all the time, I kind of need the distant buzzing of the cars on the bridge to enjoy the silence even more.

schiet baan laan

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I don’t go often to the Schietbaanlaan, but when I’m around, I like pass by it. This has everything to do with the poem by Rien Vroegindeweij on the side wall on the corner with Heemraadssingel. The poem always gives me a nice feeling, but I never felt the need to blog  about it. Until last week, when I walked past it again and I suddenly realized  that the name of the street appears entirely in the first line of the verse. This certainly can’t be a coincidence, or can it?

De zomer schiet met een baan van licht over de laan

Yet I  am unable to determine whether this is true with certainty. I simply can not find information about the verse. What I do find out is that the poem probably has been made following a 2004 decision of the Centrumraad (Center Council) to apply verses in the public space through the project Licht en Kleur, LEK,  (Light and Color), which is conducted by the Centrum Beeldende Kunst (Center for the Arts). “We choose to use lines of poetry, mostly of known Rotterdammers, to bring art to the streets (…)” I already blogged about another poem which in the context of this project was published in the public space. (

About Rien Vroegindeweij
Rien Vroegindeweij (Middelharnis, July 13, 1944) is a Dutch poet, dramatist and writer. He moved at age eighteen from Middelharnis to Rotterdam, where he plays an important role in the cultural life. He described the city and its cultural life in the newspapers Het Vrije Volk, Rotterdams Dagblad and NRC Handelsblad and in many magazines. (I always love to read his column in Rotterdam Punt Uit)
In 2006 he received the Erasmus Speld from the city of Rotterdam and in 2007 he won the prestigious Anna Blaman Prijs, a literature award of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds. (Prince Bernhard Culture Fund)


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Generator houses are increasingly transformed into works of art. In my blog Monster art at Persoonsdam ( I already wrote about this subject. Now I want to draw attention to a smaller generator house, which is no longer recognizable as such. At the corner of Heemraadssingel and Graaf Florisstraat there’s a generator house where you can walk right past without noticing it. It is covered with photos of the area, making it as if it were transparent. It’s almost like a Fata Morgana.

What a great solution to camouflage these pockmarked, gravel coated constructions! Go see this see-through-generator-house yourself and let me know what you think about it.

Written by thehotstepper

January 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm