As part of Breaking Barriers – a celebration of 21 years of MAMA – we presented a poster project on the streets of Rotterdam, which ran from 17 to 27 October 2018. For this project, we asked eleven young visual artists to pay homage to 21 iconic MAMA designs. The result: a visual journey through our history. The experience provided a guided street tour through Rotterdam in which the past and present were visually merged; an amalgam of different styles, colours, shapes, and emotions.

We have selected 21 images, one for each year from 1998 to 2018. MAMA’s director, Nathalie Hartjes, gave the following speech during the launch of the Remix Tours.

“The 21/21 Remix Tours are not just about the projects and posters from our timeline. By passing them on to young makers, in return, they tell us the contemporary significance of these issues.”

Nathalie Hartjes gave this speech as part of a lecture on the artwork Ode to Marten Toonder during the 17 October launch of the 21/21 Remix Tours.

MAMA has been a platform for visual culture and young talent since 1997. Therefore we are 21: a milestone that we simply can’t ignore. I would like to welcome you to the first event celebrating our ‘adulthood’. I put that in quotation marks because the term ‘adult’ is best taken with a pinch of salt. MAMA is unique because it is an organisation that continuously renews and rejuvenates itself.


And the word ‘organisation’ also seems to be an ill-suited description. Indeed, MAMA has a specific business infrastructure that enables our activities, and we are – let’s say dynamically – organised. But MAMA is primarily an environment with soft boundaries. It is a community where young people who have ideas can meet and have the opportunity to express themselves through experiments with word, image, and activities. MAMA is a place where we learn from each other in an intergenerational way, create new culture, and try to capture the zeitgeist.

So, how do you celebrate 21 years without getting stuck in the past or becoming sentimental? A typical anniversary celebration usually features stars from the past, but we have deliberately decided to celebrate our anniversary in recognition of those makers we stand for: the new generation. For this reason, all our anniversary event activities are about the Remix, and these tours are an appropriate kickoff.

Under Brigitte Jansen’s inspiring leadership, who has been part of Team MAMA for more than six years, eleven young makers were invited to give their own interpretations to some of the posters MAMA has thrown in the world to draw attention to our projects over the past 21 years. From City by Night back in 1998 to the more recent Care Bare, which was on show in the showroom earlier this year. The projects for which the original posters were made cover a broad range of themes and issues. By mentioning a few, you get a good impression of what MAMA – or better said, young people – has been working on for the past two decades.

During the Remix Tours, we see a particular interest in different drawing styles that relate to cartoons, animé, poster art, such as the exhibitions Ik ben een Punker, MAMA! [I’m a Punk, MAMA!] and Sweatboxing. An interest in physical or self-identified sexuality, as was seen in Ladyshave. An expression of the search for identity, as explored in MSLM. We see do-it-yourself strategies and finding ways to publicise and create publics – sometimes in relation to the street or by focusing on the internet. We see the optimistic attitude towards the internet (or global culture) becoming gradually more cynical: I am thinking specifically about the Amalia Ulman’s exhibition, International House of Cozy.


The 21/21 Remix Tours are not just about the projects and posters from our timeline. By passing them on to young makers, in return, they tell us the contemporary significance of these issues. And it is this present-day reading by young makers is what we are interested in. We have opted this approach to developing this project because the platform that MAMA can offer belongs to the new generation. Moreover, it’s a choice motivated by the conviction that ‘culture’ does not fall from the sky. As a young maker. You always build on the work of previous generations and pass on your legacy to those who come after you.

An example of this transposition is seen in the internet inheriting the activism of Punk. This seems inevitable. The surveillancism that was already under discussion in Jon Raffman’s 9 Eyes solo exhibition became even more relevant within a few years. For one of the remixes, none other than calligrapher Tim Braakman flirts with the fake authenticity of the House of Cozy (2015). The remixes also confront and disturb: the young Muslim women who proudly display their identity through fashion in MSLM (2007) seem weighed down in GRVY’s interpretation. You could even say ill-treated! It is an image that asks us to take responsibility.

From 17 to 27 October, we offer various tours along a selection of the new images made by Remco Blom, Kerrin Go, Yahaira Brito Morfe, Jayda Reeberg, Tom Kraanen, Jelmer Konjo, Mireille Bakx, Anna Nana, Márton Kabai, Laura Grimm, Tim Braakman, and Brigitte Jansen herself.

21 advertising snap frames have been reserved: one for each work. In addition to these, you will also find the posters in unexpected locations around Rotterdam. The Stadsbehang company has distributed these in surprising places. We chose a wild placement campaign. MAMA may have been born in the showroom, but she was conceived on the street. In 1992, the foundation was established – under the unwieldy name Stichting Public Art Squad – Environmental Art for Public Spaces – to realise an ambitious project for a viaduct. Five years later, under the inspiring leadership of MAMA’s founding director, Boris van Berkum – the only dad MAMA has had – a water cooler showroom was transformed into an art space. And now, here we are. I am grateful to everyone who has worked for MAMA in the past 21 years to help us reach this point. Specifically, I would like to thank the Municipality of Rotterdam and the Mondriaan Fund for their structural and unwavering support. For the Breaking Barriers celebration, I want to thank the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund, which has made it possible for us to develop a series of activities that celebrate our 21 years of focusing on youth culture.


In addition to the tours, next Saturday, in cooperation with Skate and HipHop Crew Green Cabin, there will be a best trick contest at the Twist & Shout – a skateobject designed by Martand Khosla and commissioned by MAMA in 2012. This event will also see the launch of an open call for a new artwork on the object itself. That same evening we also celebrate our anniversary during the Forever 21 dinner extravaganza at BAR. Be there! There are still tickets, and it promises to be a spectacle.

Now it’s Brigitte Jansen’s turn to explain the tour and her choices for the 21/21 remixers!

Photo’s by Tomas Mutsears.

Linked project: Breaking Barriers