Housing is not a favor but a right

Tine Hofman

The Nieuwmarkt neighborhood has a well-known and turbulent past in which housing rights activists found themselves in fierce conflicts with enforcement forces, in response to the construction of the subway line that required the demolition of many buildings. The subway line did come to pass, but the protests were not entirely without results. Thus, after the demolition, there was much cooperation with local residents in the creation of new (social) housing. As a reminder of this history, five works of art have been placed in the Nieuwmarkt subway station, which, according to the left-collectivist ideology of their creators, together form an ensemble work. The artists involved were Roel van den Ende, Louis van Gasteren, Bert Griepink, Jan Sierhuis and Tine Hofman.

The ensemble artwork at Nieuwmarkt Station was commissioned by the City of Amsterdam, on the advice of the Metro Art Working Group, and in consultation with the residents of the Nieuwmarkt neighborhood. ‘Wonen is geen gunst maar een recht (Living is not a favor but a right)’ is part of this ensemble. To “read” Tine Hofman’s artwork, you have to walk across the center line of the platform and look alternately left and right beside you. Hofman, who herself lived in the Nieuwmarkt neighborhood, campaigned against the construction of the subway and wrote protest poems, but had no aspirations as an artist. She deliberately made her text part of the floor, in order to convey the feeling of neighboring residents “that we have been walked over.”

Image: Buitenkunst Amsterdam