Natalya Pinchuk and Dana Sperry relocated to de Wallen, the largest Red Light District in Amsterdam, for one month December, 2008—January, 2009 to initiate the Ugly Objects: Amsterdam. Sixteen artists volunteered their time and talents to join the project. Through advertisement and personal interactions, people living or working in de Wallen were invited to give an ugly object to the artists for alterations. The artists had conversations with the owners of ugly things about what they find beautiful and ugly, and how much these decisions are affected by personal histories and beliefs. These conversations act as a jumpstart for the creative process, so that the altered objects can return to the original owners within one year.
The project coincided with changes in de Wallen, in which artists, designers and jewelers replace the working prostitutes. These changes are part of the larger city plan to facelift the neighborhood. Natalya and Dana were interested in collecting stories about why people arrive at what they believe in, in this case, an object being ugly. Perhaps, the activity of looking back and deciphering the history of one’s judgments about an ugly thing can give insight into larger forces that command our aesthetic and social values. This kind of questioning seems meaningful especially in a location undergoing change, when artists are asked to take on the role of “beautifiers.”
Only Man Manages to Produce Ugliness