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The empty blue pepper grinder

An iconic image of a city gone quiet

I suddenly notice them: the empty blue ‘pepper grinders’. The image suddenly hit me. I knew that the creative, cultural and vibrant life in the city had come to a standstill due to coronavirus. But that even no posters were being put up… I realised that Amsterdam was suddenly full of empty advertising columns. I wanted to capture that image and in order to stir things up a little I posted a message on Facebook on 19 January 2021:

Empty blue pepper grinders. No shows, exhibitions, festival, concerts and no posters. I would like to create a series of this. Anyone care to join? We have to be quick. Hopefully they will soon be full of all kinds of wonderful things again. Please include street name and city district.

My Facebook friends went crazy. They were sending me one fantastic image after the other. Pepper grinders, bright blue. The type of blue that is striking, but that people apparently ignore, as nobody else had noticed them so far. I uploaded the pictures to Facebook and the group exhibition grew rapidly. Together we did research into the pepper grinder in general and the empty blue one specifically. We saw columns with little mysterious doors. Wide and narrow columns. Columns with different hats and in different shades of blue. Messily glued or neatly and nicely. Columns that proudly competed with residential towers and ones that were so blue that they brightened up the surrounding litter.

There was nothing to do in the city in the winter and spring of 2021. But on the other hand there was. Suddenly, a whole group of people started staring at nothing. It was addictive.

This room is curated by:
Marie Anne Remmelink

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Soundtrackcity met dank aan: Gemeente Amsterdam West Het huis van Amsterdam