AMSTERDAM in the SIXTIES Provo Happenings Paradiso John Lennon

...Amsterdam is the Magic Centre (of the universe)...

the photobooks of Cor Jaring

Cor jaring Dit hap-hap-happens in Amsterdam
Cor Jaring Amsterdam +/-
Cor Jaring de Amsterdamse haven

 Paradiso  by Erling Mandelmann

Even geduld deze straat is gekraakt Vondelstraat februari maart 1980 2007_05_03

 Paradiso Stills Max Natkiel

Ed van der Elsken Jong Nederland
Ed van der Elsken Martin Parr My Amsterdam

  

 

 

 

  

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AMSTERDAM IN THE SIXTIES

Happenings
It is 1964. Amsterdam. The world out there is divided in two kinds of people; the Pleiners (a nickname like squarers) – in the name of Leidseplein, at which ‘the port of call’ for writers, artists and poets Eylders pub – and the Dijkers (the ‘Dike’ men).
It is a world Cor feels at home. He meets people who are different. Trendsetter and pacesetter definitely is Robert Jasper Grootveld. He is the self-pronounced Smoke Magician, known from his own proverb ‘a content smoker is no troublemaker’. He established his Smoke Temple in 1963.

Cor’s newly found friends from the square and others find a kind of shelter in the shape of a small house Cor’s father makes available. Among the merry, spiritual bunch are – well known in the Netherlands – Frans de Boer Lichtveld, Johnny van Doorn (Johnny the Selfkicker) Joop Bielemans, Marijke Koger, Simon Posthuma, Betty van Garrel, and Theo Niemeyer.

Cor takes his first picture of Robert Jasper Grootveld, the moment he performs as ‘anti-smoke magician’ at the statue Lieverdje (the nickname the provocative Provo people gave to the statue they respected as their icon). Cor missed the 1st Provo Happening ‘Open the Grave, but he is present at ‘Stoned in the Streets’. It is open air theatre acting we talk about. Playful, humourous, and full of phantasy. In the following years the so-called happenings changed: the emerging of Provo group and its manifestations slightly acquire a political atmosphere.

Provo
All encompassing: enveloping the whole world, including people from all walks of life. Even the rabble is to play their role as disapproving critics feeling fooled. ‘Sour faces’, who can be ‘turned’ to thinking differently through Happenings and friendly stimulants, in order to make the world a better and nicer place. One big playgarden, so to speak. There is nothing unhuman to Provo, so trendsetters and leaders emerge, such as Roel van Duyn, Rob Stolk, Peter Bronkhorst, Luud Schimmelpenninck and Hans Tuynman. Provo becomes a movement, grows and virtually bursts from the seams. The establishment beckons, and Provo represents itself in the municipal council. In order to control ‘the end’ itself, Provo was laid as foundling in the Vondelpark in the rouring infamous 60. That happened when freedom of speech was about to be organised by the establishment, wanting to set up a ‘speakers corner’.  

Expertise
Expertise and know-how gained in life and absorbed at various places will never be lost. Well-known men in Amsterdam Kees Hoekert, Theo Klei and Max Reneman saw to a follow-up of Provo issues stated in the so-called Witte Plannen (White Plans) in 1968. They established the fact that ‘there are few butterflies left’, and drew up the Insect Sect. Robert Jasper Grootveld helps out again. The Butterfly Opera came about, and plans are developed to deal with the problem of dog’s droppings, and the pollution of the Amsterdam canals. Kees Hoekert built floating flotillas. The Deskundologisch Laboratorium (laboratory of expertise) was established, which took quite a number of initiatives, using the mission statement ‘everything which needs common sense and does not boggle the mind’. In short: Provo created a heritage, which formed the base for the environmental movement of later years.  

Flower Power
Nobody has ever doubted is: Amsterdam is the Magic Centre (of the universe). Trendsetter Robert Jasper Grootveld promoted the image of ‘the content smoker is no troublemaker’. In the sixties the advise was taken to heart by countless so-called hippies, who ‘nestle themselves as a ‘flock of happiness seekers’ in the Magic Centre, and under the Vondelpark trees in particular. The feeling of freedom fills the air like a sweet perfume for society. The civil society picks up the idea and invents the slogan ‘tell it with flowers’ (in the typical Dutch sense of let your heart talk by giving a bunch of flowers). 

Protest
Protest without violence, but centainly against violence. The anti-Vietnam campaigns are outlet of the dissatisfied men, who call Johnson a Murderer. Again it is Robert Jasper Grootveld who shows his ability to solve problems and fight poverty. He does that symbolically at the Lievertje statue by "exchanging our prosperity for sand from developing countries and provoke a multi-national moving house, as a cultural exchange avant-la-lettre". Protest without violence, but centainly against violence. The anti-Vietnam campaigns are outlet of the dissatisfied men, who call Johnson a Murderer. Again it is Robert Jasper Grootveld who shows his ability to solve problems and fight poverty. He does that symbolically at the Lievertje statue by "exchanging our prosperity for sand from developing countries and provoke a multi-national moving house, as a cultural exchange avant-la-lettre".
In Amsterdam the proverbial house is on fire when building constructor Jan Weggelaar dies, not through violence as rumour has it, but because of a heart-attack. This comes out in the open later, but the damage is already done. Only briefly tracks of rage and destruction are seen in the city. The atmosphere is grim.  

Squatters
It becomes more and more grim everywhere. The so-called White Housing-plan started with the ‘occupation’ of an empty cinema, which offered shelter for the plenty. Later the plan involves neglected premises of shady landlords. The Magic Centre attracts countless visitors from abroad, and the Vondelpark does not provide a starry night every night. Large building being structurally empty for speculative reasons are discovered. Squatters turn these places upside-down. It provokes other things to happen: some become aware how to get a sound thrashing. It is the way downhill from ideological squatting to ideal or common ‘living for free’. Later a bizar form emerge: that of the organised anti-squatter occupation of houses.