Dutch Counterculture

and Provo

Even before the founding of the experimental CoBrA group, in 1948, Amsterdam was an important crossroads for avant-garde artists and activists in postwar Europe. By the early 1960s, Constant was projecting visions of his New Babylon onto its labyrinthine cityscape, where they blended with street actions of the nascent Happening movement, amorphous groups of disaffected anarchic youth culture, protests against the war in Vietnam, aspirations of pro- and ex-Situs, exiled from the Situationist International in Paris. Out of this maelstrom emerged the Provos, a movement that quickly took root not only in the Amsterdam City Council, but as far away as Milan, New York, and Los Angeles. The Kabouter and other groups picked up where the Provos left off, preserving the city’s place as mecca for the new transnational culture of protest, until the squatters, street artists, and musicians of Zebra House launched another new epoch: Dutch Punk.

Dutch Counter Culture and Provo holdings at the Beinecke

Provo

Provo, 1965, no. 1, special edition.

Provokatie, 1965-66, nos. 1-15; two versions of nos. 3 and 8: the original issue and the censored edition.

Provo, nos. 1-12, 1965-67.

Provo witte plannen, 1965-67, eight handbills.

Handbills and posters related to the Provos, c. 1965-70.

"Avis à la population....," 1966, announcement of a Provo happening in Brussels.

10 maart '66, 1966, book of reproductions of photographs, newspaper clippings, and cartoons of the protests and police brutality that occurred surrounding the marriage of Princess Beatrix and Claus von Amsberg.

Provo, 1967.

Carlos Piesaar Correspondence, collection, in Dutch, of approximately 20 letters to Carlos Piesaar from family, friends, Provo artists, and sympathizers, received during a brief incarceration for Provo-related activities in 1970; includes drawings and newspaper clippings.

 

Other Dutch counter culture publications

Gard sivik,  nos. 1-33, 1955-64.

De vrije: anarchistisch tijdschrift, 1965-66.

Hit Week, nos. 1-32, 1965-69.

Image: witte pers zondagsblad, nos. 1-8, 1966.

God, Nederland & Oranje,  nos. 1-10, 1966-68.

Provox: extra uitgave van het Nijmeegs studentenblad Vox Carolina, 1967.

Handbills and posters related to the Provos and other activist groups in Amsterdam, c. 1967-70.

Aloha, nos. 1-26, 1969-74.

Kabouterkolonel, nos. 1-4, 1970.

Kabouter boodschap, 1971.

Kabouterkrant: gemeenteblad van kabouterstad Amsterdam, nos. 1-13, 1970-71.

Tijl Uilenspiegel: een blad voor autonoom links, nos. 1-7, 1979-80.

Bluf!, 1982-88.

 

Related collections

Constant and New Babylon

Witte Krant poster

Witte Krant poster

"McLuhan is Not Dead"

Witte Krant 9

Witte Krant 9

30 April

30 April

Westland Gebode

Westland Gebode

cover

Westland Gebode

Westland Gebode

interior spread

Rosebud

Rosebud

interior spread

Westland Gebode

Westland Gebode

interior spread

Westland Gebode

Westland Gebode

interior spread

Westland Gebode

Westland Gebode

interior spread

Westland Gebode

Westland Gebode

interior spread

"All They Need is Love"

Totems 2 (January 15, 1969)

Totems 2 (January 15, 1969)

Totems 3/4

Totems 3/4

"Open Your Mouth..."

"Open Your Mouth..."

"...Open Your Ears"

Witte Krant

Witte Krant

"The Law Against Marijuana is Immoral in Principal and Unworkable in Practice"

"Provo wenst het klootjesvolk..."

"Provo wenst het klootjesvolk..."

1967

artist book

artist book

artist book

artist book

IMG_0706.JPG

IMG_0706.JPG

miniature zines

miniature zine

"Blietzkrieg"

"Blietzkrieg"

miniature zine

"Blitzkrieg"

"Blitzkrieg"

miniature zine, back cover

Babylon Shall Fall

Babylon Shall Fall

"Drop the Nuclear Bomb"

"Drop the Nuclear Bomb"

Provo Brussels, Provocation no. 4

Provo Brussels, Provocation no. 4

leaflet

"Naar in New Babylon" poster

"Naar in New Babylon" poster

leaflet

"Het Witte Huiz en Plan..."

"Het Witte Huiz en Plan..."

leaflet

Provo, Provocation no. 1

Provo, Provocation no. 1

leaflet

"Mei 1945... 30 April 1980"

"Mei 1945... 30 April 1980"

leaflet

Provo's Fietsenplan

Provo's Fietsenplan

"Destruction is Constructive"

"Destruction is Constructive"

leaflet

Provo's "Witte Cellenplan"

Provo's "Witte Cellenplan"

"Kom dan ook..."

"Kom dan ook..."

leaflet

"Wit Honger Bericht"

"Wit Honger Bericht"

"Wit Bericht..."

"Wit Bericht..."

leaflet

Kraakkafee

Kraakkafee

"HenriVolte poludiek"

"HenriVolte poludiek"

10 maart '66

10 maart '66

10 maat '66

10 maat '66

interior spread

10 march '66

10 march '66

Volte

Volte

Volte

Volte

interior spread

Jesus Punk/Gospel Fuckers poster

Jesus Punk/Gospel Fuckers poster

Klaaskrant 8

Klaaskrant 8

RAR (Rock Against Religion)

RAR (Rock Against Religion)

Kabouter manifesto

Kabouter manifesto

Kabouterkrant 6

Kabouterkrant 6

Kabouterkrant 7

Kabouterkrant 7

Kabouterkrant 9

Kabouterkrant 9

Kabouterkrant 9

Kabouterkrant 9

interior spread

Kabouterkrant 9

Kabouterkrant 9

interior spread

Kabouterkrant 9

Kabouterkrant 9

interior spread

Kabouterkrant 9

Kabouterkrant 9

interior spread

Kabouterkrant

Kabouterkrant

Kabouterkrant

Kabouterkrant

interior spread

Kabouterkrant

Kabouterkrant

interior spread

Kabouterkrant

Kabouterkrant

back cover

Kabouter

Kabouter

Kabouterkrant 10

Kabouterkrant 10

Kabouterkrant 10

Kabouterkrant 10

back cover

Koekrandt (May 4, 1979)

Koekrandt (May 4, 1979)

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

interior spread

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

interior spread

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

interior spread

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

back cover

Koekrandt 36

Koekrandt 36

Koekrandt 29

Koekrandt 29

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

"Roger Moore 'Ivanhoe'"

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

interior spread

Koekrandt 5

Koekrandt 5

Koekrandt 6

Koekrandt 6

Koekrandt 7

Koekrandt 7

Special issue: "Het Verfincident"

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

"Art-o-Maat"

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

interior spread

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

interior spread

Koekrandt 13

Koekrandt 13

"Papua Punk"

Koekrandt 20

Koekrandt 20

Koekrandt 22

Koekrandt 22

Koekrandt 21

Koekrandt 21

Koekrandt 25

Koekrandt 25

Koekrandt 25

Koekrandt 25

interior page

Koekrandt 25

Koekrandt 25

interior spread

Koekrandt 25

Koekrandt 25

interior spread

Koekrandt 30

Koekrandt 30

Koekrandt 32

Koekrandt 32

"A Cry for Attention"

Koekrandt 32

Koekrandt 32

inside cover: "After punk, after sex, after art, there will be... Koekrandt"

Koekrandt 32

Koekrandt 32

interior page: "American Punk Art... punk is not dead"

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

Koekrandt

"Swiss Punk Meets Amsterdam Uhr-Punk"

Koekrandt 34

Koekrandt 34

Koekrandt 34

Koekrandt 34

interior spread: "Politie-Razzia in No Name!"

Koekrandt 34

Koekrandt 34

interior spread

Koekrandt 39

Koekrandt 39

Koekrandt 41

Koekrandt 41

Galerie Anus

Koekrandt 46

Koekrandt 46

"An Hour Until the Demise"

Koekrandt 50

Koekrandt 50

Zebra

Zebra

"Don't Throw Me in the Streets"

God, Nederland & Oranje

God, Nederland & Oranje

March 1968

God, Nederland & Oranje 1

God, Nederland & Oranje 1

God, Nederland & Oranje 2

God, Nederland & Oranje 2

God, Nederland & Oranje 3

God, Nederland & Oranje 3

God, Nederland & Oranje 4

God, Nederland & Oranje 4

(February 1, 1967)

God, Nederland & Oranje 5

God, Nederland & Oranje 5

(March 10, 1967)

Homo sapiens correctus

Homo sapiens correctus

detail of scroll used in performance

IMG_0622.jpg

IMG_0622.jpg

Provo

The Provo movement, active in Amsterdam between 1965 and 1972, was incited by anarchist groups that recognized that alienation and boredom are powerful energies that can be harnessed to spark social change. A Dutch sociologist originally coined the name “Provo” to negatively denote the surge of disaffected Dutch teenagers who provoked authorities in the postwar period. Roel Van Duy, a philosophy student at the University of Amsterdam, saw a potential to reclaim the term politically. He explored these possibilities the first issue of Provo magazine, published in July 1965.

 

The group fused three elements of counterculture in that period: an emerging contingent of disillusioned young people, the provocative methods of the performance artist Robert Jasper Grootveld, and the revolutionary ideas of Van Duy. The Provos staged theatrical and provocative “pranks” and happenings that combined nonviolent public actions and absurd humor. These events attracted large crowds and often ended in decisive action on the part of the police. Authorities also monitored the Provos publications. For example, the first issue contained a diagram, reproduced from the 19th-century English journal Practical Anarchist, which detailed how to make a pineapple bomb. The instructions were useless, but the editors were arrested for inciting violence, although they were later released without charges.

 

The general populace of Amsterdam sympathized with the group; at one point, five Provos were even elected to seats on the City Council. The ideas disseminated in the magazine and through the group’s street actions influenced urban planning, social housing, and cultural life in Amsterdam and Europe more broadly. The group contested prohibitions on marijuana, air pollution from traffic congestion, and the tobacco industry. For example, along with staging protests, Grootveld also defaced billboard cigarette ads by writing “cancer” overtop in black tar, and created an “Anti-Smoking Temple” in a studio space, where he staged ritualistic happenings until he burned the building down in the midst of one such event. As Provo became more widely accepted in society, defended by moderate liberal politicians and studied by sociologists, the group began to lose its momentum. By 1972, the leaders decided to officially disband.

Resources

Provo at the British Library

 

Photographs of Provo witte plannen (white plans), International Institute of Social History.

 

Two or Three Things I Know About Provo, Experimental JetSet.

Provo 10

Provo 10

Provo 10

Provo 10

Provo 10

Provo 10

Provo

Provo

Provo

Provo

Provo 9

Provo 9

New Babylon issue

Provo 9

Provo 9

New Babylon issue

Provo 9

Provo 9

New Babylon issue

Provo 9

Provo 9

New Babylon issue

Provo 9

Provo 9

New Babylon issue

Provo 9

Provo 9

New Babylon issue

Provo 13

Provo 13

Provo

Provo

Kraakkafee