Out to market in Amsterdam


Architecture lovers and people interested in finding out more about the history of Amsterdam’s buildings waited outside the Passenger Terminal on Sunday afternoon. The throng waited patiently to listen to ‘Architects stories,’ a talk which would have revealed some secrets about blueprints and the inner workings of an architect’s mind.
Not everything was set and ready when the people entered, as a 12-story cruise ship, around 300 meters long, had just let in its 2,600 passengers. The projector was quickly installed after the floating fortress was already heading to the Atlantic and its signalling echoed all over the harbour. The Costa Atlantica managed to make the Passenger Terminal look like a small house.

For those unfamiliar with this Dutch word, ‘uitmarkt’ means ‘going-out market,’ in the spirit of going out to visit a show, or attend a cultural event. But when Dutch people hear it, they think immediately of the famous, annual opening of the cultural season of the Netherlands.

The Uitmarkt is held every year at the end of August in Amsterdam, and this year was no exception.

Since 1977, the event has been held in the centre of Amsterdam. This year it moved to ‘Oostelijk Havengebied’, an area where the organizers thought it could combine its indoor and outdoor activities. The event capitalized on the sprawling sidewalks that stretch along the river IJ. Raising in front of the water, the concert-hall ‘Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ,’ the Bimhuis, the new library open in July 2007 were ready to reveal their interiors. 

From 24 to 26 August, about 500,000 people strolled around this Eastern Harbour area, blessed by an unexpected gentle sun. They went ‘going out’ to find out what’s on in theatres, museums and concert halls all over the country for the upcoming cultural season.

A long line of red-hued stands distributed information about the events taking place during the year, and promoted all kind of activities. Theatres and concert halls allowed the public to see the ‘tipje van de sluier,’ ‘tip of the veil,’ of their programmes. They previewed cabaret, classical and ethnic music concerts, and dance performances.

Walking along the stands full of books in search of brochures and inspiration, I found an interesting initiative of the Foam museum. A girl was snapping Polaroid pictures of people holding the sign ‘By showing this picture I get free access to the Foam Museum.’ The alternative ticket is now on my desk, waiting to be used to visit some of the future expositions at the photography museum.

“People really enjoyed to have a look at the new cultural locations,” Roeland Dekkers, manager of the Uitmarkt, said. The area between Central Station and the Theaterfabriek is relatively new and mostly populated by the passengers of the big cruise ships that arrive to Amsterdam.
“The city centre remains our home-base,” Dekkers added. “And from there we make trips to new areas.”

The long walk also hosts the several harbour warehouses which are today home of Amsterdam’s artistic and cultural labs.

The Oostelijk Havengebied provided enough space for the onlookers who came to the capital from all over the country. Dutch public broadcasts covered the event for three evenings. A preview of the MTV European music awards brought some bands on the main stage. Moke, Jeckyll&Hyde, C-Mon en Kypski were among the Dutch nominees that performed on Saturday night. 

Even if the works for Amsterdam’s new metro will continue until 2011, at the end of September the Underground Festival will make an intrusion in the working area. Behind an anonymous door, people accessed a dark room with the mechanisms that operate a bridge next to Central Station. It will be soon stage for art, theatre and music exhibition of the festival.