A walking tour in a city that never existed.

By Alexander Cromer

The following things are, indeed, true:

  • Amstel is Amsterdam’s sister city.
  • Amstel is a city that exists within Amsterdam.
  • Amstel is a city created in direct response to diaspora, colonization, and absurdity.
  • Amstel is a city with a history of inclusion instead of slavery, unlike Amsterdam.
  • Amstel doesn’t exist.

This project, inspired by psycho-geography and history itself, is an attempt to re-write and re-envision history and highlights how certain decisions can create long lasting, far reaching ripples within the ocean of time. The city of Amstel is largely based on Amsterdam and even share a similar history, with one pivotal exception; the Dutch East India and West India companies, instead of enslaving and colonizing, adopted a mentality of inclusion and adoption. This exception occurred before the Golden Age of Dutch history (starting at the beginning of the 17th century) and manifested in a physical document called the ‘Incorporation Doctrine’, and it was a shift that changed the very fabric of Amstel. 

If that history were true, what would the city look like? How would it feel? Instead of Dutch naval hero’s, would important people of color in history be celebrated? Furthermore, what is the best way to  explore these questions, initiate dialogue, and include the broader public?

Enter: the walking tour. 
By co-opting this activity, so heavily drenched in tourism, I was able to explore Amstel (with a few unlucky (or very lucky?)) tourists in tow. To this end, the visuals were catered towards tourist while also reflecting a possible visual language influenced by African and Surinamese colors, shapes, and styles. I also re-envisioned famous historical figures as if they were POC as an exploration of potential societal affects.

Additionally, I established a fake walking tour company called ‘Walk and Talk’ that hosted these tours. Thanks to social media, it became a real company as soon as I published the information, because thats how our world works.

This all culminated to the big night.

Though not an astounding success, WELKOM IN AMSTEL was a definite an entry point into the complex and relevant post-colonial dialectic. Moving forward, I’d like to devote more time to this project and explore other ways of exploring the city (an exhibition perhaps? a fashion show? a pop up restaurant? a new political party?).