Amsterdam Rainbow Dress


© images by Pieter Henket Studio – Amsterdam Rainbow Dress

“The Amsterdam Rainbow Dress is a work of art that calls for openness and inclusiveness, encouraging people to actively contribute to, defend and share (acquired) freedoms. The Amsterdam Rainbow Dress is a monumental dress, measuring over 16 metres / 52 feet in diameter, made of 75* national flags from countries where homosexuality is punishable by law, including 12 countries where homosexual acts can result in the death penalty*. The bodice of the dress is made from the city flag of the city of Amsterdam.

How it started

To raise attention to the issue of illegal homosexuality, the flags were carried in a parade on the opening day of Euro Pride 2016, after which they were presented to COC Amsterdam, the oldest active LGBT-organisation in the world. Arnout van Krimpen, Jochem Kaan, Mattijs van Bergen and Oeri van Woezik came together and volunteered to develop a concept for these flags which led to the creation the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress, in cooperation with COC Amsterdam and their volunteers.

What does the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress stand for?

The Amsterdam Rainbow Dress is made of the 75* national flags under a bodice made of
the Amsterdam city flag. This underlines the importance of Amsterdam remaining open to LGBT refugees who are persecuted in their country because of who they are or whom they love. For centuries, Amsterdam has been a shelter city for people in other places in the Netherlands, Europe, or the world who were not safe for the ideas they had or the person they were. Amsterdam as a ‘safe haven’, also for LGBT refugees from these 75* countries, is not self evident and needs to be cultivated and maintained. It is therefore important that the people of Amsterdam remain aware of this goal and are committed to develop an atmosphere of openness and inclusiveness. Naturally this applies to communities all over the world and that is why the dress will travel, raising awareness for openness and inclusiveness around the globe. This is what the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress stands for.

As a transgender, top model Valentijn de Hingh knows better than anyone how to convey
this message. She presented the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress to the public during the first
annual ‘Amsterdam LGBT Freedom Ceremony’ at the Amsterdam Museum and also
modelled the dress in the publicity photos shot by photographer Pieter Henket. The publicity photos were shot in the Rijksmuseum at the Gallery of Honour, in front of
Rembrandt’s Night Watch. The Rijksmuseum, the Gallery of Honour and the Night Watch
are considered iconic and historic Amsterdam / Dutch. By photographing at this specific
site, the pictures also underline the history of Amsterdam as an enclave of freedom.
Valentijn de Hingh poses as the maid of Amsterdam, who welcomes 180 nationalities within her city limits and thus also welcome, or in any case should welcome, LGBT refugees from the 75* countries

The Amsterdam Rainbow Dress is a ‘living’ work of art. If and when any of the countries in the dress no longer penalise homosexuality, the flag will be replaced with the rainbow flag. This will be presented during an annual ‘Amsterdam LGBT Freedom Ceremony’ organized by COC Amsterdam.

Presentation and comments

On Friday, August 5th, 2016, the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress was presented during the first Amsterdam LGBT Freedom Ceremony, in the courtyard of the Amsterdam Museum. After publication, the press photos have been widely published by international media.
Within a week, the images and concept of the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress went viral on
various social media and got picked up by (online) written press and television stations
worldwide. These publications include Het Parool, Huffington Post, El Pais, the Independent, USA Today, Art Daily, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, BuzzFeed, the Gaily Grind,
Upworthy, the Guardian and CTV News Channel.

Attention is paid to the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress from Netherlands to China, from
Australia to Brazil and the United States to the United Kingdom. In some of the countries
that are included in the dress, such as India and Malaysia, online discussion was sparked by the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress.

* List of countries as comprised by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and
Intersex Association (ILGA). The flag of Belize has since been replaced with the rainbow
flag. The Amsterdam Rainbow Dress in her current form consists of 75 national flags, 1
rainbow flag and 4 flags of the City of Amsterdam.”


© images by Pieter Henket Studio – Amsterdam Rainbow Dress

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