Kinshasa - 'Paris of Africa 2025'

Future Cities at OBA (Amsterdam Library)

Future Cities is an photography-based exhibition running until  25th August at OBA (Amsterdam Public Library). Because it is located in the library entrance is free of charge.

In Future Cities, 2 photographers look at 5 cities with rapidly growing populations. The focus is not on the usual cities we hear about but instead ones which they consider to be the ‘world cities of the future’. Each of the cities has been given a theme and the artists illustrate the rapid urban growth with photographs and stories based around each city’s  theme.

Lima in Peru is the first city you see as you enter the exhibition.  In the last 50 years Lima’s population increased from 1 million to 10 million. The exhibition acknowledges that this city has problems such as low quality and slum housing as well gangs dealing drugs and human organs. But the focus is on the positive aspects and future development. For this exhibition Lima is dubbed as ‘Global City of Gastronomy 2021’. The artists concentrate on how Peruvian food culture has developed and the benefits it brings to Lima’s inhabitants. During the last 15 years they inform us, Lima has become a centre for gastronomy with 20% of the city’s population now employed with a connection to the food and restaurant industry. The photographs illustrate how food has brought different types of people closer together. The artists introduce us to chefs, small restaurateurs and students. We see cooking and catering schools,  both top internationally renowned restaurants and smaller more private ones aimed at the local populations. 

The other cities covered are Yangon in Myanmar (art and culture making it the New York of the future), Addis Ababa in Ethiopia (music and nightlife), Kinshasa in Congo (fashion) and Medellin in Colombia (‘Latin America’s Smartest City’). In each city the urban problems are mentioned, but often in combination with positive development. In Yangon for instance they point out that more people have a smart-phone than access to electricity at home. The example in Medellen is even stronger as they suggest it was the same business instinct that previously made it one of the most dangerous cities in the world which now allows it to be transformed.

The exhibition is interesting but these are not cities where most Amsterdam-based people have a connection to which would likely restrict visitors if it had incurred an entrance fee. Not everyone will have heard of all the cities and they are unlikely destination for tourists at the current time. If you are in the library area and interested then it is worth visiting.  If you have more time then the OBA building is free of charge to explore. Aside from lending out books and media, the library has space for laptops so that  students and home-based workers  come here for the shared working space.  The top floor La Place cafe also offers a views across Amsterdam.

Top floor view

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