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August 12

Outsider’s Guide: Red Light Art

Good spot

BY EMMELIE KOSTER – While the art scene prepares for the opening of the new season in the first week of September, the slow Summer month of August is the perfect time to see gems that remain from the last one. Amsterdam’s Red Light District is not particularly known for leaving much to the imagination, but it’s actually my favourite area to be surprised by art appearances. Rush to the bawdy area to catch the last days of a Cluedo inspired exhibition and experience breath-taking views from a lofty rooftop installation on a church.

You wouldn’t think of The Red Light District as a place to get closer to God, yet there it is. Amidst the debauchery a promising sign at the base of the Oude Kerk points to the entrance of Taturo Atzu’s installation: a 300 m2 white structure that sits right on the roof of the church, thirty meters above ground. After a 360 step ascent on wobbly scaffold stairs appears The Garden Which is The Nearest to God, a temporary construction created to transform our experience of the monument to an intimate encounter.

The view alone is impressive, but if you – like me – have a fantasy of one day living on a cloud, then spending time up in Taturo Atzu’s Garden takes you one step closer. The Angelus clock tower rises from within the white outdoor seating area. The golden weather vane, usually to be admired from afar, is now the centrepiece in a smaller indoor area set up as a living room. If you’re lucky, the church bells ring while you’re up there. This month is the last opportunity to visit. Starting August 13th, the church is adding an evening programme with performances, bat-watching (ok) and discussions, I can only imagine seeing the sun set from there will make the experience all the more magical.

Play along
Two streets down from the church you’ll find another radical transformation of space at artist-run W139. Their current exhibition True Players is the most fun and engaging group exhibition I’ve seen this year. Seemingly unconnected artworks are placed in a grid transfiguring floors and walls into what can be interpreted as a game of Cluedo. The murder game forms the premise of the exhibition and the moment you enter, you are the player. Go play while you can (open until August 16th).


Oude Kerk & The Garden Which is The Nearest to God
Oudekerksplein 23
Mo-Sa: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 1pm-5:30pm
Book your tickets for the evening programme well in advance, space is limited.

Warmoesstraat 139
Open daily: noon-6pm

About Emmelie
Emmelie Koster (28) is founder and curator of No Man’s Art Gallery. For her gallery, she crosses the globe in search of emerging artists and organises temporary exhibitions in every city she visits. When she is not roaming the world, she spends her days in Amsterdam where the gallery has a permanent exhibition space. Also an independent art advisor, Emmelie is always up to speed of who is showing where, and what not to miss. Discover her top art picks in her monthly Volkshotel blog.


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