“The New Amsterdam Koffiehuis” is a photo series about Amsterdam’s last
traditional coffeehouses, of an era gone by. The photographs are hand printed with coffee from the actual coffeehouses where the photographs themselves were taken. You can smell the nostalgia and almost taste the past – not just Amsterdam’s ofcourse. This phenomenon is global. Your mom and pop coffee shop is being replaced by the branded, hip, skinny-macchiato-with-a-dollop-of-foam branded store.
Before these meeting places disappear from the streets of Amsterdam, photographer Gijs van den Berg believes it’s important to document them. Amsterdam used to feature many more small coffeehouses. Since the expansion of the city around 1900, Amsterdam coffeehouses have fulfilled a vital social function. Together, the owners and clientele create a warm, open atmosphere that is unique in the city. By photographing his subjects on a monumental scale, van den Berg captures an era as it passes, and creates a document for the future. He has photographed eleven coffeehouses: the authentic decor, the owners and their patrons.
The images are conventionally printed in the darkroom but instead of using regular developer Van den Berg uses a special recipe based on coffee from the actual coffeehouses. This homebrew developer (a mix of among other things: coffee, washing soda and Viatmin C, which he has dubbed cafenol) gives the photos a sepia-like tint. It also makes each print totally unique.
The work is making its way to New Amsterdam where a 20-foot container will be transformed into a temporary small Amsterdam coffeehouse during the Photoville NYC festival. Test strips at the back of the container showing the process even make the small space smell like coffee! Why “New Amsterdam” you ask? The title refers to the fact that Manhattan was once called New Amsterdam. In the 17th century it was a Dutch settlement that served as the seat of the colonial government in New Netherland. It was only in 1664 that the English took over New Amsterdam renaming it New York after the Duke of York…
Gijs van den Berg (1983) is an Amsterdam based artist. His works span a variety of media including video, photography and graphic design, depending on what fits best with the conceptual idea behind the work. His works have been exhibited at The Printspace London, Malmø Fotobienal, Format Festival, Kaunas Photography festival and others. Van den Berg is also creative director and partner of KesselsKramer, a creative agency with offices in Amsterdam, London and Los Angeles.
— Samantha Reinders