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Binnenpret: Amsterdam Jan 04
Binnenpret also know as the Occi (it's music/theatre venue) is a pretty immense
space, with a restaurant, cafe, bike workshop, art studios, performance venue,
& a sauna... I caught up with Bouke in his studio there where among other
things he makes comics about the squat scene in Amsterdam. You can also read an
interview with Errika about the Kinderpret the kids activities in this social
me a little about yourself & how you got involved in the Binnenpret.
think the way I got involved in squatting was at the beginning of the 90ís
when I was young & needed somewhere to live somewhere closer to centre than
the suburb where I lived. So I squatted a place with some friends in Amsterdam.
So we were evicted quite fast & after we started living in another place
& so lived in quite a few places until I started living in the squat where I
still live now.
the Binnenpret is also a legalised squat so I new some people who were working
here I sometimes I came here. So slowly I came around this place. & years
later I was interested in comic work graphical art I was making posters. I was
doing posters for actions & for concerts & doing comics for books giving
information telling people how to squat. Then this place suddenly became vacant
& I was really lucky to be chosen in a meeting Ė here everything is
decided by meetings where everyone of the different activities participate in
who can get another space what activities can take over the next month. So I got
the space & I make comics & make paintings & now & then I still
make decorations & graphical design for websites & posters.
kinds of activities go on in the Binnenpret?
start on the street side there is a concert hall mainly alternative bands
playing there 2/3 times a week & also in the daytime there are childrenís
activities like childrenís disco & you have a number of spaces were people
make music or art & a place where you can eat vegetarian & vegan food
there is a sauna a bicycle repair place.
artists space is divided into 2-practice space for bands I think around 15 bands
practice here altogether. There are also some spaces for different kind of
artists. For example there is a group of women here doing different art with
glass next door there is someone doing metalwork.
is also a small coffee bar in the middle of the square where the buildings are.
many people are involved in organising all these activities?
think already only in the Sauna there is 50/60 people there is a group in the
cafť, another doing the concerts & a group doing the kids activities so I
think already there is maybe around 200-250 who work here.
But there not here all together at the
same time so you wouldnít really notice it but when you start to calculate
they all volunteers?
Yes & we had between 5 & 10 people who were subsidised by the government who were doing the book keeping & the maintenance different things that needed to be taken care specialised work more or less.
is a new government really conservative which is cutting budgets & social
work so in the future we have to do it all ourselves again & I think
thatís the way it started all by volunteers so I think we can do it but it
will be more difficult than before.
more difficult as students have less time to study & life since the
introduction of the euro has become much more expensive & there loads of
reasons why itís become more difficult to find volunteers.
& On the other hand when its really difficult & itís really a
sort of challenge it also motivates people to do more because they have to
really fight for your place. & Also people here realise when you rely on a
government subsidised job there may be a day when theyíre out of money then
youíre out of money too.
the past they mainly made an agreement with the city authorities that we would
maintain the spaces & in return for that all the spaces where given away for
one guilder symbolically & it was a sort of contract for 20 years so in 10
years people have to negotiate again with the city for the future.
wasnít here when the place was still squatted so about here I canít say much
about the difference but I know in general when a squat becomes legalised it
means that you have to make compromises. It sometimes means that things you did
before like giving big concerts are not possible anymore.
Is everyone involved in the space happy with the compromises?
there was a conflict with the noise of the concert hall as there are lots of
people living nearby so we had to insulate the hall inside & it cost a lot
of work to do so but it was really necessary as people couldnít sleep so now
there is the compromise the bands stop at 1.30 & afterwards you can only
play music (djís/djaneís).
this place the compromises were quite easy to take in my eyes because people
where free to do it all themselves. Nowadays you see squats that get legalised
& it impacts on what they have to do in terms with making it fire proof
& fit in all the rules & regulations its much harder theses days
but you can also say this place is really used by subculture yíknow they live
nearby they may live far away itís more for example the kinda alternative
bands that you can see here they attract a certain public of course. Itís not
like all the people who work here do it because they live nearby. For the sauna
itís different you see lots of people from the neighbourhood & also for
thing that seems quite positive is kids activities can you tell me a little
donít know if its not so common Iíve heard stories before about squatted
spaces that was mainly for kids activities between school times or for really
young kids. Always when people start their own activities they start with the
things they really need. Sometimes a place to come together sometimes itís a
place for their kids sometimes itís a place for practising with bands but I
think people mostly make what they need. Thatís also the positive thing of
squatting a space you donít have to wait for someone else to tell you what it
can be you can project your own ideas.
also involved in some of the music projects here.
Yeah I play here with a band one day a week.
the bands get involved in the other activities here?
only come to play with their band. Some people in bands are really involved in a
lot of the other things but you canít really tell because bands start &
stop really easy it changes really fast.
other people thereís not really publicity made about the activities here
although there are some people who make posters some of the activities have
there own website but its not really structured that really the whole
neighbourhood knows whatís going on here.
You make comics about squatting?
Yeah I was working for a magazine we have in Amsterdam with about 250 members & itís about all the houses that have been squatted recently demonstrations & court cases. It printed on an old stencil press. Every 2 weeks itís coming out its still there. Iím not working on it anymore I did it for 8 years I was doing comics & making jokes about things that happen. Because I always thought that sometimes you have to laugh & also keep things a little bit in perspective because sometimes you squat a place & your out in a week but sometimes you have to laugh about it a little bit you can be angry at one time & then do an action but a few weeks later you have to laugh. Because you have to have an optimistic vision to start squatting because certainly now the laws are becoming more difficult. They really try to make it impossible although it still legal in Holland.
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