Where: Frames of Thinking exhibition, Poortgebouw, Rotterdam.
When: Side event during Art Rotterdam 2014.
Other artists: Daniel Bennet, Dora Benyo, Florian Braakman, Saskia Burggraaf, Yair Callender, Susanna Inglada, Lonneke Jonker, Claire van Lubeek.
Tour de Squat refers to the bicycle tour that was organised in 2008 to show squatting as a part of the culture of Rotterdam. According to Indymedia, “there were 30 people and there was a very good atmosphere. No police and one reporter of the mainstream press. We cycled and came by (among others): het hotel (the hostel), de Paardenval (the Horsetrap), de Boeg, de Rottepoort (Gate of the Rotte = river), het EKV Eigen Risico (squatrestaurant Own Risk) – we stopped there to eat and drink a bit. Then we went further to de Slagerij (the Butchery), de School (The School) we had a quick peak inside, de Villa (the Villa), Squat Vitrine, het Slaakhuys, Hang, Locus 010, Op-stand (Rise – up), Poortgebouw, Discomfort bar. We ended in the Nijverheidsstraat. I didn’t mention a lot of houses that have no name of their own.” April 2008.
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In 2007, I created an illustrative typeface Platform 4 Chaos using squatted buildings in Rotterdam as the components of each letter. I remember cycling around the city and taking photos of buildings such as de Fabriek (where I was living at the time), Locus 010, de Boogjes and the Poortgebouw itself. Another layer was added by using an Illustrator Plugin called Scriptographer to generate unpredictable lines emphasising the concept of chaos.
This typeface was however developed for a bigger research on Rotterdam’s squatter movement/housing situation as a response to the commercial exploitation of public spaces. Platform 4 Chaos proposed for more unity between squatter groups that were already re-using these spaces for cultural, social causes and non-profit activities.
It’s 2014 and seven years have passed. These unique spaces which once provided Rotterdam with a richer and culturally dynamic landscape are now gone, partly due to the prohibition law enacted in 2010. When invited to participate in this show, I came to remember the Platform 4 Chaos project and the ideas, time and context it was connected to. Somehow, it seemed appropriate to re-use and re-contextualise this forgotten project as a way to reflect upon what was lost but also as a way to facilitate a new generation of independent spaces, one example that comes to my mind is the Leeszaal, Rijnhoutplein 3.
The Poortgebouw is however, an anomaly. Although legally different, the space still exists, standing the test of time and changing politics. But it is more than just the physical building – it is about the spirits, histories, ideologies, struggles and communities the space has seen and harboured. In this way, I feel like this typeface is coming ‘home’ for the first time. Therefore I would like to present this work as a sort of homage to the Poortgebouw itself, to the time in which spaces like these flourished, but also the other spaces that appear in this work that were once active in the city of Rotterdam. Lastly, I also offered the use of this typeface for promotional material for this event as an act of support for the cause of self-organisation today.
The Tour de Squat zine