Gallery Mercatorplein 2020
Gallery Mercatorplein is a recurring photo exhibition in the public space. This edition features Afropean Express: Travels in Black Europe, a project of writer and photographer journalist Johny Pitts.

For this edition of Gallery Mercatorplein, Foam collaborated with the Nieuw Amsterdam Academie. The Nieuw Amsterdam Academie wants to make youngsters from Amsterdam Nieuw-West more aware of their personal development, their neighbourhood and the active role that they could take on within their neighbourhood. In collaboration with curator Kim Knoppers and photographer Angela Tellier, Pien, Soumaya, Rieke, Jochem and Kristen made a selection out of the works of photographer Johny Pitts. These works are presented in this year’s edition of Gallery Mercatorplein. Via QR codes on the photos, the youngsters tell their own stories about the selection they have made.

Amsterdam. From the series Afropean © Johny Pitts courtesy of the artist.

Johny Pitts examines the life of black communities, travelling across Europe. In search of the "Afropean" identity he went across the continent travelling from London to Paris, via Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Stockholm, Moscow, Rome, Marseille, Madrid and Lisbon sketching an underexposed story about the continent in words and images. 

The term 'Afropean' was founded in the nineties by Marie Daulne, a Belgian-Congolese musician who performs under the name Zap Mama and by the Scottish musician David Byrne. They saw a new continent emerge in Europe, where the black community had a big influence. For Pitts it meant the following:
"'Afropean' suggested I could be whole and unhyphenated, I could incorporate all these different things into my identity, and in a way transcend them.”, “These scattered fragments of Afropean experience had formed a mosaic inside my mind ( … ) the Afropean reality was a bricolage of blackness and I’d experienced an Africa that was both in and of Europe.” – Afropean. Notes from Black Europe, p.380, London 2019.

Pitts documented his travels with his camera and in his book Afropean. Notes from Black Europe. He captures impressions of the cities – graffiti, snow, figures, metro stations – in tranquil, atmospheric photos in tones of black and white. The people portraited in the different urban landscapes in Europe seem to be lost in their own thoughts and reflect a feeling of introspection and loneliness that Pitts might be familiar with.

Visit the exhibition Johny Pitts - Afropean: Travels in Black Europe until 1 November at Foam.

Foam and Amsterdam-West district have been working together for years in realising several exhibitions at Mercatorplein. With Gallery Mercatorplein Foam contributes to the goal of Amsterdam-West to shape Mercatorplein as the living room of the De Baarsjes neighbourhood. Foam regularly shows photography outside its walls with exhibitions on location to introduce photography to the widest possible audience.

Unfortunately, this additional education programme is temporarily unavailable due to new measurements surrounding the coronavirus.
Foam has developed an educational program around the exhibition Afropean: Travels in Black Europe. Students receive an interactive tour of Mercatorplein and a photography workshop at school from a Foam museum teacher. Here they discover how identity can emerge in photography and how you can express identity by taking a photo. For information:

Gallery Mercatorplein is made possible thanks to the City of Amsterdam, District West. This exhibition takes place on the occasion of Forum on European Culture 2020.

Foam is supported by the BankGiro Loterij, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, City of Amsterdam, Foam Members, Olympus and the VandenEnde Foundation.

explore connections

Gallery Mercatorplein 2020