The World Premiere of a Documentary on the Philly Painting Project of the Dutch artists Haas&Hahn (Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn) took place at the Dutch Consulate-General in New York on September 23th.
Haas&Hahn are best known for transforming urban landscapes around the world with vibrant artworks, most notably in the favelas in Rio de Janeiro. That spirit of transformation was at the heart of the artists’ work to revitalize and re-energize a section of Germantown Avenue in North Philadelphia.
The Dutch Minister of Foreign affairs Frans Timmermans opened the evening with an impassioned speech about the importance of art projects to transform public spaces and individual lives, bringing diverse people together to inspire and be inspired. With their project, Haas&Hahn achieved just that. The two Dutch men are quick to adapt, utilizing the exchange of ideas, values and traditions to enhance socio-cultural cooperation between the Netherlands and America.
After the film screening, which took viewers behind the scenes of the artist’s project in Philly, Karen Wong, Deputy Director of the New Museum, moderated a conversation with Haas&Hahn, filmmaker Jon Kaufman, community leader El Sawyer, and Mural Arts Program executive director Jane Golden.
„We want to learn from people in different countries and places. In Philly this was harder than in Rio, because it took longer to get people to trust us,” the artists told Wong. „We entered a harder reality, but the fact that we were Dutch really helped, as we could bring in something new’’.
Dre: „In Philly we are done now, but the project didn’t stop, and other people took over, that is cool. Jeroen: „The designing is now happening without us. To me that is a measure of success.’’
The two artists keep on dreaming. After their success with previous projects, they want to go back to Rio de Janeiro to paint an entire favela. In order to realize this dream, they started a Kickstarter campaign, with a minimum goal of $100.000. Eventually Haas&Hahn hope to raise at least $250.000. This will enable them to employ more than a dozen painters, continue for a full year and paint over a 100 houses, creating the largest public artwork of our times.