The most controversial mural of Amsterdam, 2004, located in the Jacob van Lennepstraat/ corner Nassaukade. An assignment by the city of Amsterdam, funded by European cultural program Urban 2 and the city of Amsterdam.
Inspired by Jacob van Lennep’s (1802-1869) poem “Aan een Roosje”, the historic mural-homage to Jonny Rotten and Fellini’s film Boccaccio ’70.
A brief history
Shortly after the completion in May 2004 the Mural became known as Roosje met haar doosje – Rosy’ s little box, or shortened Roosje (due to journalists of the local broadcasting company AT5).
Although the process towards the finalization of the mural was utmost democratic: every single neighbor was able to ventilate his opinion on the investment of a European cultural fund, the final sketches were not suited to the meaning of a small minority (some non-religious Dutch neighbors).
Shortly after the presentation of the mural, a storm of protest was raised, led by a well emancipated religious female person. At this point, pro’s and contra’s of religion, freedom of expression and political parties and opinion-makers of every kind took side. The mural became a symbol of the progressive way Amsterdam was ruled, and, so called ‘suppressing’ conservative ideas about how a society should be.
Then the mural was bombarded with paint bombs (they aimed at her lower section…) Directly after this unfortunate event, Muslims were blamed in all media as not being integrated. Although, this has to be noticed: the people who started the protest were Muslims, they knew very well where and how to protest, namely at the office of the local mayor. (Still no one knows who threw the paint-bombs)
Not to mention their protest was in vain, for the simple fact, their argument of religion and imposing censorship on art has no ground whatsoever in the Dutch constitution.
So, the mural needed to be restored. The artist was aware of the fact that his mural was socially engaged, in the first case by just depicting a very large naked lady (inspired on an old mural about the death of Jonny Rotten, in Amsterdam, and to fulfill the wish Fellini also had when filming Boccaccio 70 – a 20 meter large Anita Eckberg getting alive from an advertising board). So to depict the (pretty silly) debate on art and integration, he blocked out her vagina during the restoration, in order to visualize the criminalization of feminine beauty. Everybody happy: Conservatives hailed their gain, progressives hailed their supremacy by pointing out to be better than the opposite, as this was what Amsterdam was coming to be. Except for the government, being afraid they would be accused of censorship.
In 2010 some mad female person vandalized Roosje once more, by tagging ‘Stop Porno’ all over the lowest section of the mural.
In 2013 the lowest 3,5 meters of the mural has been restored by appointment of the city of Amsterdam. Since the mural became a landmark, both for tourist photographing the ‘Amsterdam liberal way of living’ and for locals, being proud to live next to the largest and most controversial mural of Amsterdam.
The mural will remain as long as the building on which it is painted stands tall. Numerous media articles and several scientific theses were written about Roosje.