#3 In conversation with April Gertler

by Unseen September 06 2017

This year at Unseen Amsterdam we have organised some unique and extensive artist walks to intrigue and engage you with the city. Specially created by artist April Gertler, the two-hour walks reveal Amsterdam’s photographic background as well as stories from the artists who inhabit the rich historical neighbourhood of Westerpark. With limited availabilty make sure you don’t miss out on this miraculous opporuntiy to explore the city in this extraordinary way.   

American multi-disciplinary artist April Gertler currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany, where she founded the hybrid artist residency and art academy PICTURE BERLIN. In 2013, she developed the concept for the walking lecture performance IN SEARCH OF THE MIRACULOUS with a team of artist collaborators in Berlin. The walking lectures typically last a full day, and expose attendees to the incredible underbelly and untold stories of the city, connecting them to subtle and spectacular visual histories. She speaks to us about the programme she developed for this years Unseen Amsterdam, and the role photography will play in the exclusive tours.

In addition to the exhibitions and events, a series of artist walks will be hosted by April Gertler as part of her lecture performance, titled IN SEARCH OF THE MIRACULOUS. The psycho-geographic walks were specifically developed and conceptualized for Unseen Amsterdam by Gertler, and are available to attend by the public and visitors of Unseen, who are invited to explore a small area of the city through personal points of view that highlight photographic histories.

Tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea for IN SEARCH OF THE MIRACULOUS.

IN SEARCH OF THE MIRACULOUS was developed four years ago in Berlin, Germany, where I am based, as a part of PICTURE BERLIN, the hybrid artist residency and art academy I founded in 2009. Most of the international artists who attend PICTURE BERLIN have never been to Berlin before, so I came up with the idea to create a 12-hour experiential walk. In collaboration with 6 other Berlin-based artists, we created a tour that explores the city from a variety of perspectives, spanning 6 different neighborhoods. The walk successfully explores a wide range of narratives that are just below the surface of the place, or are hidden in plain sight throughout the city. During the walk, the participants encounter magical, unexpected moments throughout the day. The walk I have created for Unseen will be 2 hours in length, using many of the same principles I incorporated in the Berlin tours.

What can visitors expect to get out of the art walks?

The concept of the Unseen Amsterdam walks is to show the participants something that they might not have seen before, and to also give them alternative insights into a number of places. Each visitor can expect to experience a small part of the city from a unique and often surprising perspective. It is experiential, personal and playful, and when it ends, each visitor will hopefully walk away with a new insight, but also feel like they were touched by a bit of magic.

What are some specific alternative histories you will highlight?

Some of the many stories I will be touching on include the 1980s squatting movement in Staatsliedenbuurt, the importance of primary colours in the Dutch landscape, understanding how to tap into memories of a place through photographs, and personal accounts by photographers.

How does photography factor into your art walks?

Many of the stories that will be told during the walks will concentrate on a variety of artists who use photography in their work. The stories will focus on their connections to the places we happen to pass through and deliberately walk to. Their work will act as a catalyst for helping us understand a given place, but it will also be the touchstone for creating an overall narrative of the neighborhoods through stories, and how these are often played out through photographic work.

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Photo: © Ayala Gazit