Most of us know the story of Eberhard van der Laan. He was Amsterdam’s beloved mayor, who sadly passed away being very ill. In February 2017 Dutch art collective Kamp Seedorf created a street art ode for van der Laan close by the tube station of the Wibautstraat. Despite the fact not all people like street art, al lot of people from Amsterdam agreed that the ode to the mayor was well deserved and a great statement. The artwork was allowed to stay. Unfortunately, not everybody got that note, so only 2 weeks after the van der Laan ode appeared, it was gone again.
Since yesterday, the work is back, now on Mercatorplein, Amsterdam. To honor van der Laan, the Amsterdam municipality organized a competition to bring an ode to the mayor who meant so much for Amsterdam. I meet with Kamp Seedorf to congratulate them on the amazing ode. For most people from Amsterdam, it didn’t come as a surprise that the design of Kamp Seedorf won with a majority of the votes. “It was nice that everyone had the opportunity to make a design and to let the residents of the city decide who would win.” Kamp Seedorf tells me, “Never before so many people in Amsterdam voted for an artwork in public space. It shows how much everyone loved Eberhard. We’re very happy and honored that our design received the most votes and that we could make our ode on such a large scale. It’s our biggest project so far, and we’re very proud of the result.”
Against all expectations of Kamp Seedorf, the original van der Laan artwork became an icon: “Of course, street art disappearing is part of the deal. It gives an extra dimension to the works artists make on our streets. Lots happened in the past two years. We printed the design on a t-shirt (that was sold-out immediately, proceeds went to charity), van der Laan’s son approached us to make the work on canvas and invited us to meet the mayor, the design was used for Eberhard’s mourning card, the Amsterdam Arena wanted to print the work on a huge canvas, Amsterdam Museum wanted a canvas and so on.”
Although the image became so popular, Kamp Seedorf didn’t necessarily want to re-make the work in the first place, as that is what street art is, it’s not always there for ages. “We are very happy with the permanent work on Mercatorplein. Being creative and making the work in the way it suits us the most. Eberhard deserves this ode.”
Not only van der Laan’s family approves the well-deserved mural, those present during the unveiling prove that the ode is justified and desirable.
“Zorg goed voor onze stad en voor elkaar” – Eberhard van der Laan (1955 – 2017)
Thank you, Kamp Seedorf, for giving Eberhard van der Laan the ode he deserves.