Learning from Amsterdam: From Squatters' Networks to an Early DIY Internet
Radical Networks 2019 Proposal
Name: Amanda Wasielewski
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Twitter: @awasielewski Repo:
Url(s): http://www.amandawasielewski.com, http://www.uninstallationart.com, http://www.madeinbrooklyn.city
Consent to being photographed?: Yes
Consent to being on the livestream?: Yes
Speaker Bio and Profile Picture
Amanda Wasielewski is an American artist and researcher based in Stockholm. She is a postdoctoral fellow in Art History at Stockholm University with a focus on visual cultural heritage and digital interfaces, and she is the author of Made in Brooklyn: Artists, Hipsters, Makers, Gentrifiers (2018). Wasielewski has taught social media and internet studies at the University of Amsterdam, architectural history at the Spitzer School of Architecture, and modern art history at Lehman College in New York. Her artwork has been exhibited internationally.
Community: I am part of an international community that shares an interest in digital culture and art. Both myself and my work have not been limited geographically although my research tends to look at very specific contexts. Drawing from my own experiences living in these places, I have recently done research on artistic communities in Bushwick, Brooklyn and Amsterdam, Netherlands.
In the early 1980s, Amsterdam was a battleground. During this time, conflicts between squatters, property owners, and the police frequently escalated into full-scale riots. Although the practice of squatting was legally protected in the Netherlands, the formation of a social movement around squatting in the mid- to late ’70s brought about a turbulent period exacerbated by economic hardship and widespread youth unemployment. Those active in the squatters’ movement sought to carve out new spaces in the fabric of the city, guided by anarchist politics and a desire for autonomy. These cracks in the established order created a model of resistance that artists carried over into other fields of practice, particularly media art and early network culture. Drawing from my research into the relationship between squatting and the internet in Amsterdam, I am proposing a short talk outlining what we can learn about contemporary net discourse by looking back to this moment in the ‘80s and early ‘90s in the Netherlands. During this time, artists carved out autonomous platforms in urban and media space, including illegal pirate radio and TV broadcasters and alternative art institutions. As network computing technology—early forms of the internet—spread in the late ’80s, squatters and media artists saw its potential as a means by which their autonomous communities could be extended. These activities led to the development of the first ISPs available to the Dutch public—XS4ALL and De Digitale Stad (The Digital City)—in 1993. They were created, not by business entrepreneurs or corporate entities but by a coalition of idealistic artists, activists, and anarchists who wanted to create a network that would be open, democratic, autonomous, and centered around art, politics, and culture rather than monetary exchange.
Length: 30 minutes for my presentation with 10 minutes for Q+A