Reflections 1  
Reflections 2  


Identity, Images & language
© Daniela Swarowsky

ZiM Workshop 280404

1st Question: With which identity and images (question to each of us) do we enter Zwaanshals? Dutch identity meets Berber, Moroccan, Turkish, Austrian, Columbian, Spanish identity

2nd: which images do people carry around there? What is Berber, Moroccan, Turkish identity? Which image culture does exist there?

3rd: Which language do we speak and understand and how is it with their language? Also talking visual language (ours and theirs).

We'll find a lot of light boxes, yellow and red - the design is a sort of no design and in a way 20, 30 years backwards. The fonts they use were probably never hip. Don't forget that the level of analphabetism, also among Dutch people in the hood is high >story boards/illustrations>comix (see:how to cure a sick camel).

How to bridge their language with each of our language? Without just superimposing our 'vision'. Inventing a new language? How to know, if they identify themselves with 'our' language?

We enter the street with the intention to transform the environment? To help? To suggest? To encourage? Induce? With which right? In who's opdracht? In order not to intrude (the white creative elite), superimpose, colonize, what would be the right approach?

What Zwaanshals means to me
Zwaanshals as it is, has for me already quite a lot of qualities: warmth, atmosphere, generosity, a bit old fashioned, but they have their own style. So start with the big potential of Zwaanshals, which can 'help' the Dutch in their identity crisis (sorry - don't take it personal), giving flavour, spices, humour (in comparison to sterile shopping streets like koopgroet, zwart jan straat...) In Zwaanshals money still doesn't rule completely (apart from drug business). I still eat, and if I have no money, I pay later. I go in a shop and get 5 breads instead of 3, plus another sweet. This is how people are there, and I like it. This is quality of living. And the Moroccans have a good kitchen, also a quality I'm missing here. Zwaanshals still has a human face, where people care about each other. Functional social structures, which should be protected. People, who have been unrooted, should not be unrooted too often, if they have found a good ground for themselves.

Zwaanshals, the Zuid in Noord:) Many Mediterranean people, coming from places with ocean, mountains and other landscapes.

For me personally nothing, or let's say not much, has to change in Zwaanshals. I like the imperfection, the dated style.

Inbetween cultures
People there are migrants. Me by the way too. Moving away from the place you call 'home' does all kind of things to a person. Many of them didn't leave a dream, but left a lot of economical hardship/poverty/ no career chances behind. Still, in an emigrant's mind, the homeland becomes the desired land often. One's childhood's landscape is deeper engraved inside, than what you experience as an adult. The smells, climat, food of your country - how people treat each other - all that forms culture (or identity).

Don't dream about the past or a fantasy land - make your dreams true in the present, here and now!

The Dutch and Zwaanshals
Many Dutch people don't like it there. Many feel alienated by the big allochtoon community, the gathering of moslemic people. This originally very Dutch working class neighborhood has been 'taken over' by mostly Moroccan and Turkish people. Many Dutch have moved away and the ones, who stayed, are suspicious towards their buren.

Herontwikkeling - threat or chance?
Through the involvement in the GB, Daniela knows quite a bit about the plans of 'herontwikkeling'. Deelgemeente & woningsbouwcooporaties must have interest to upgrade Zwaanshals, in order to sell their expensive houses (mix of rich & pour=new strategy).

Knowing that things will change in the area through 'herontwikkeling' can mean a chance, but also a threat to the people, who are living and working there. If the locals do understand this bigger transformation as a chance, and start taking responsibility - e.g. get actively involved in shaping their environment or to express their dreams - they will be able to become a voice, which will has to be recognized, also by authorities.

High income people are meant to move to that area, in order to mix up the population) which means, that the population and the clientele of the shops will change. Shopkeepers now lamenting about the poverty of their clients, will have to cope with a new, more demanding audience, which is used to a different kind of shoppping. Sure deelgemeente and woningsbouwcorporaties have to invest and have to have an interest in a 'better, safer environment in order to sell their expensive houses. So money will be invested into the hood, also apart from the GB.

This is where I see the big potential in and for Zwaanshals. This place has a meaning - beyond it's location. ZiM has the potential and I see a challenge to treat city development differently. Normally these neighborhoods are seen as nuisances, as 'no go areas', from the Dutch/white perspective.

Sure, there are drugs, poverty. But Zwaanshals is also a living community, who is boiling, partly also ambitious and attempting to develop and grow. The people have a lot of cultural qualities to offer, which differ from the Dutch way of life, and therefore you can breath also a different atmosphere. All this already existing flair has just to be highlighted. Everything is already there. Nothing big has to be added.

Quite a few of the people there have also visions and ideas of how to improve this place. And are eager to get out of their 'stigmatized' image of being 'the Moroccan' or whatever. Let's create spaces to express who they are, who we are. And let's create a space in between to meet and start a dialog.

New approach
So, instead of trying to get rid of them (short- or long-term) work with the potential, which you already find there. Urban Planners/woningsbouw can try to buy the poor out (or kick them out) in order to get 'good prosperous' (Dutch?) businesses in. It seems that this is a strategy often taken before - which doesn't really change anything on a deeper level, as communities are only scattered = destroyed and sooner or later form themselves again in a different environment, again from scratch.

But why not try to help the already existing community to improve their environment? help them promote the street, make it look better, bring the special image of Zwaanshals out (through banners, transformation of facades, new stoeptegels, better lighting, benches, plants...)? Reality is, that in Rotterdam already way more than 50% are allochtoon. So why try to ignore this fact? Why not take it in and work WITH this fact? U can scatter gettos, shift them to another part of town. But for me this is not the way to deal with the 'problem'. Turn it around, forget what the media is telling us about 'them. Go and talk - learn from their way of doing things. Lots of nice things to find! Let's walk new and fresh ways. Let's get involved with the 'other'. Let's meet with the people coming from other countries here - they are just living next to us! Travel in your own city:)

Zwaanshals - a microcosmic representation of the global picture (migration, Irak, immigration politics)

Ok, but be aware of the following: Zwaanshals is not to become a zoo, where we want to expose 'the good Moroccan'. Nor should Zwaanshals become an 'exotic' brand, 'Little Istanbul' - or is this necessary, even desirable???

The people there are
a) not informed about the big plans
b) have no voice (no winkeliersvereniging, bewonersvereniging) in order to react to the changes.

>D finds it necessary
  • to inform people about what's going on
  • initiating 'unions' creating a voice of the people
  • create think tank of people to think about the street
  • to link people there among each other (allochton communities)
  • to link people there back to deelgemeente, PWS, ComWonen, KvK - other resouces
  • to bring creative, artistic people to Zwaanshals to get involved
  • to start a dialog among all those people

    DS vision
  • Bridging people - new communication (benches on the street, radio, muurkrant, winkeliersunion...)
  • open up new mental and physical spaces (ZiM kantoor, dream travel agency...., take as many empty shops/ houses and fill them with creative people, who are willing to dive into ZiM and contribute to it)
  • transform environment - create a new visual language for the street

    A very naiv thing. Start making people realize that they are able to solve their own problems. Empowerment idea in building basis democratic structures (winkeliersvereniging, ...). Bring skills and know how together and together you can develop and shape your environment. Synergy of energies

    Proud identity, not hiding where they are coming from, but showing the strong sides. Self confident Bridging gaps. Communicate with each other

    Artists/creative people in between should move there and use the environment. They feel attracted to such an environment - they are not afraid of the 'other' but like to travel in different worlds. They adapt easily and can help the street to bring out and make visible, what is already there.

    Icons to keep drugs out, dirt out
    Food, mediterane feeling, kappers, nice shops, no cars, better branchering

    Opening up mental spaces
    Start up a Winkeliersvereniging
    Start up ZiM Think Tank (ZiM artists, other ZiM collaborators, active bewoners, wijkpastoraat, marokkan initiative)

    Physical transformation possible with? Lampposts - banners
    Facades - roofs
    Interior of shops
    Private/public > benches
    Plants/ gardens
    Grotere afvalbakken

    Fixing exact goal of the workshop: why, what and how folder?

  • Past/present/future of ZiM
  • Vision for Zwaanshals (make a story, collage, soundscape of how it could look like in 5 years)
  • Multifunctional folder > for fundraising/sponsors/to give out of hand/to represent the project

    Writing/ sketching all the different possibilities we can think of for the Zwaanshals identity as material for process

  • Photos of street/ people
  • Photos/design of Jasmine transformation
  • Berber symbols
  • Old folders about Moroccans
  • Dutch iconography
  • Turkish iconography
  • Shop photos from Paris

    Colors campaign in the street: choose your colors
    (+ connotation = flags, national, football, mystic/religious, political, sea, earth)
    Landscapes choose your shape
    Cultures create culture - your own style
    Symbols Berbers I have
    Icons Image Culture McDonald, Dutch Style, handpainted, artsy, language based
    Communicational Tools wallpaper/ message boards, radio, commercials, flyers, banners, audio tour, texts, Zwaanshals News, Zwaanshals soap
    Visual Language berber, arabic, calligraphy, no human representation
    Urban Environment
    On the world map/politics sharpening of inburgering/illegals, irak war, islamic#christian world
    Economical structure winkeliersvereiniging, cooperations, Kvk
    Power structure GB, deelgemeente, woningsbouwcooperaties, Network diagram weekplaats, moroccan, InHolland, Salle Demain, Occupying Space...

    Moroccan > Berber Amazigh
    Turkish > Kurdish?

    Discuss what we think the role of the inhabitants should be like in the whole process

    Some project will ask people's opinion and imput (stoep, Zwaanshals Winkels Nieuwe Stijl Others not

    Some projects are highbrow, others are very simple (seeing a plant grow)

    Should be a balance between autonomous art and products for the street developed in close cooperation with the people.

    Think about a clear strategy to get the whole project, by folder, under attention of the press, to the public and funds

    What's the interest of people outside of Zwaanshals = funds, press, art public In ZiM? What's special about ZiM? What's the potential?

    discuss the form of the folder including kinds of images and texts

    a) make clear appointments for realization

    How to come to a design & who decides what is needed?
  • Democratic way - organize a workshop with inhabitants & shopkeepers 1. everything/ all ideas are developed by the locals 2. we frame it - choice of colors/ forms/ symbols we offer