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Z-Files #11: Street Art - Now & Beyond

Z-Files: 13 / 05 / 2015
Location: The New Institute

In no city in the Netherlands can you find as many murals as in Rotterdam. Before the war, advertising paintings set the tone for the city. In the meantime, the paintings of companies have been replaced by shelters and temporary posters. Nowadays, street art is often made by street art artists, who thereby show their own signature. Since graffiti first appeared on the streets, this art form has also evolved and accepted. The eleventh edition of the Z-Files is about this development from illegal activity into a beloved and even commercialized art form. Do artists still use graffiti to claim the street and raise social issues? Or has street art turned into (profitable) decoration? And what is the future of street art?


Siebe Thissen (head BKOR of the CBK Rotterdam) introduces the evening; in 2007 he wrote the book 'Mooi van ver', about wall painting in Rotterdam. Moderator Léon van Geest presents the evening at the Nieuwe Instituut. Designer Rens Muis wrote a book about graffiti in Rotterdam and reads a column about graffiti from then, now and later. Then Van Geest talks to Dave Vanderheijden; he talks about the Rewriters project, a new art route in Rotterdam based on street art (graffiti and street art). Van Geest also speaks with the Rotterdam collective OPPERCLAES: What developments do they see in contemporary street art? What's next The Haas & Hahn duo became famous for their Favela Painting project, which they realized in Rio de Janeiro. Van Geest talks with them about this deployment of street art: What can Rotterdam learn from their combination of street art and community building? Visual artist Onno Poiesz has roots in the graffiti culture and often realizes art projects in public spaces. Van Geest talks to him about the difference between art with a large and a small K, and about the future of graffiti.


Léon van Geest is the moderator for Z-Files #11, and more often acts as a moderator in the field of culture and urban development. He is trained as an Industrial Designer at TU Delft. Van Geest is director of the Rotterdam Roof Days, committee member at the RRKC for the culture plan 2017-2020, board member at Stichting Singeldingen and chairman of the Supervisory Committee in the Rotterdam City Prison.

Dave Vanderheijden is the director of HipHop in je Smoel; founded in 1999 by a group of enthusiastic hip hop lovers with the aim of reporting on the national and international hip hop scene. Since then HIJS has developed into an important player in Dutch hip hop. Vanderheijden is currently working on the Rewriters project, a new art route in Rotterdam based on street art.

Rens Muis is a designer and one of the founders of the Rotterdam design agency 75B. This agency initially worked for young cultural initiatives such as Showroom Mama, Waterfront and Passionate, and is now responsible for the identity of, among others, Codarts University of the Arts, Mondriaan Fund, International Film Festival Rotterdam and the Van Abbemuseum. In 2007 he wrote the book Graffiti in Rotterdam together with Wessel Wessels.

Opperclaes was founded by Bruce Tsai-Meu-Chong and Linda van der Vleuten. Their gallery space is located at Claes de Vrieselaan in Rotterdam. Tsai-Meu-Chong and Van Vleuten have a background in graphic design, illustration and event planning. In 2010 they founded Opperclaes to offer a stage to young creatives from different disciplines. One of their recent projects is Opperclaes Extra Large; a series of wall paintings on the front wall of the Hofbogen.

The Haas & Hahn duo consists of artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn. Koolhaas graduated from the Design Academy in Eindhoven with the Graphic Design discipline. He has been a freelance audio-visual designer and illustrator since graduating. Urhahn has worked as a journalist, copywriter and art director and has set up various companies in the event sector and television production. They started their collaboration in 2005: After a visit to Brazil, they later returned to create large works of art on the walls of slums with the youth there; Favela Painting.

Onno Poiesz is a visual artist. He works with ceramics, terrazzo and concrete, among other things. With this, he designs shapes that are not often seen in this material. He also made De Schaduw, a sculpture by a German Heinkel at the '40' 45 NU Museum. He recently added a large mural to a building on Heer Bokelweg, just behind Hofplein.

Free access

Photo: 'Praca Cantao, panorama' (2010), Courtesy of Haas & Hahn


Z-Files, Art and the City is a series of programs from SIR and BKOR (Visual Arts & Public Space) in which art, public space and the city are addressed through lectures, interviews, workshops and excursions. This program highlights the special collection of works of art in the public space of Rotterdam and examines current developments with regard to art and the city. SIR and BKOR are programs from the CBK Rotterdam.

TENT is the platform for contemporary art in the context of Rotterdam with exhibitions, new productions, educational projects, performances and events with makers from the city and beyond.
To website TENT

Sculpture International Rotterdam manages Rotterdam's international sculpture collection, brings it to the attention and develops a metropolitan international art policy.
To the SIR website

Forest polder fox, Florentijn Hofman, Schiedamseweg, 2020. Photo: Otto Snoek

BKOR manages and renews the extensive city collection in collaboration with Rotterdam residents, companies and institutions. BKOR advises the municipality, citizens and artists on the realization, placement, relocation and remediation of public works of art.
To the BKOR website

Art Office mediates, informs and supports visual artists from Rotterdam with regard to their professional practice. For artists, institutions and individuals.
To the Art Office website