In this year of 400 years relations between Turkey and the Netherlands the Amsterdam Museum co-operated with students from Yaşar University in Izmir. The posters they made played a role in the museum projects around this commemoration. On November 19 the exhibition about Dutch Pioneers in Turkey by Gunay Uslu and Geert Snoeijer opened in Izmir. Also on show are the posters made by students of the Design Department of Yaşar University in cooperation with the Amsterdam Museum.
Posters from Izmir
Created by Design Department Yaşar University
At a workshop in Izmir in March the students presented the designs they had produced for the Amsterdam Museum curator Annemarie de Wildt and their teacher Cihangir Elmaskaya. Some had used the photos sent by the museum including reproductions of 17th-century paintings, photographs of the first guest workers and images of Turkish Amsterdam citizens now. None of the students of the design department of Yasar University has ever been in the Netherlands and only a few have relatives who live there. They deepened their understanding of the Netherlands by doing their own research and producing new images.
Look into the eye
Some used in their design a detail, such as a tough immigrant worker with safety glasses or the arrival of the first ‘guest workers’, as the migrants from the countries around the Mediterranean were called in the Netherlands. Other students opted for a more symbolic representation of Turkish-Dutch relations, for instance a pattern in red, white and blue clogs and Turkish slippers or the letters TR and NL. Food was also used in their representation of Dutch-Turkish relations especially Turkish delight and chocolate. For the children of migrant workers, who only saw their father once a year, chocolate was one of the delicacies that their fathers brought from the Netherlands. Some students came up with very poetic images, like a map of Europe with a flock of birds on their way from Turkey to the Netherlands. Another poetic design consisted of a nazar (the blue eye that must fend off danger) and the text: 'Look into the eye'. This poster is a good symbol for this project: cooperation is to look each other in the eye, learn from each other and then together make something beautiful.
After the workshop students continued working on their conceptual posters. A group of three students formed a team to work on the mini expo of three posters that would be distributed in Amsterdam. Mehmet Emin Dinç, Damla Bora and Tansu Nisanci came up with an design that combined photo’s and text in a diagonal pattern. Prof. Tevfik Balcioglu of Yaşar University visited the Netherlands and we discussed the progress of the project.
The poster exhibition was printed in the Netherlands in 300 copies. Staff of the Amsterdam Museum and volunteers took the posters into town to various places frequented by Turkish Amsterdam citizens. The Bike Factory (Fietsfabriek in Dutch), a company set up by a Turkish migrant, loaned the museum a transport bike. The bicycles are partly produced in Turkey. On many of the tours to distribute the posters Gunes Forta was present. Gunes is an art student from Istanbul and she was an intern at the Amsterdam Museum for a month. Many of the Turkish migrants are not very fluent in Dutch and with Gunes around communication was easier. For her the internship was useful to experience the way the Amsterdam Museum experiments with outreach activities. In Turkey, where city museums are just developing, it is still unusual for museums to reach out to their (potential) audiences in this way.
'We always work'
Most people were pleased to hang the posters in their store, building or restaurant. We explained about the exhibitions but many people said: 'We always work, We have no time to go to a museum'. They appreciated having the small poster exhibition, which they hung on walls, freezers and shop windows. The design made it possible to have different ways of hanging them: in a vertical or horizontal row. We would often talk about (grand)fathers who had come to the Netherlands to work and their own relations with Turkey. Some people recognized the singer Karsu, whose photo is on one of the promotional posters of football club AGB. For the museum staff it was interesting to visit (unknown) locations in Amsterdam. The reporter team of the museum made a short video (partly in Turkish) about the distribution of the posters.
The conceptual posters of the students on 400 years relations between Turkey and the Netherlands were shown as part of the exhibition about the Turkish pioneers in New Dakota in nothern Amsterdam. They were placed in a space which was also used for theatre and other cultural events. In October there was another presentation of the conceptual posters at the Reinwardt academy, a higher professional education for heritage studies. This exhibition was part of a presentation and a debate organized by the Reinwardt academy together with the Amsterdam Museum on the way museums and other institutions had dealt with the 400 years of relations and the impact on and relations with the Turkish community in the Netherlands. Later the posters were transferred to another part of the school to inspire the students to think conceptually.