Creative City Discourse: Amsterdam as New Babylon

Interesting piece about creative city policy in Amsterdam in Variant by Merijn Oudenampsen

The following quotes are from "Back to the Future of the Creative City
An Archaeological Approach to Amsterdam’s Creative Redevelopment" by Merijn Oudenampsen in Variant, issue 31, Spring 2008

"Constant Nieuwenhuys envisaged a society where automation had realised the liberation of humanity from the toils of industrial work, replacing labour with a nomadic life of creative play outside of the economic domain and in disregard of any considerations of functionality. “Contrary to what the functionalists think, culture is situated at the point where usefulness ends”, was one of Constant’s more provocative statements." Constant Nieuwenhuys, ‘Opkomst en Ondergang van de Avant-Garde’. In: Randstad 8 (1964), pp 6-35.

The work of Constant thus combined an aversion for modernist functionalism with an intense appreciation of the emancipatory potentials of new technology. Mechanisation would result in the arrival of a “mass culture of creativity” that would revolt against the superstructure of bourgeois society, destroying it completely and taking the privileged position of the artist down with it.

Together with the consolidation of consumption as a leisure activity, the expansion of labour time has led to an unprecedented amount of human activity being directly or indirectly incorporated into the sphere of economic transactions through a process Marx would have called ‘real subsumption’, or the extension of capitalism onto the field of ontology, of lived social practice.