All For Art (february 2108), made for the Prospect & Concepts exhibition by The Mondriaan Fund at Art Rotterdam. With many thanks to The Mondriaan Fund for their generous funding.
For this five day long durational performance, I let myself be fixated to an infusion, and therefor to a hospital bed during the opening hours of the exhibition. I was fed by the exhibition attendants according to a fixed scheme. I could not leave the bed to use the restroom.
In total, more then 500 people sat down to have a conversation with me. Some were short and somewhat superficial, other opened up quite a lot and shared their sorrows, secrets, fears, happiness and sometimes we even shed some tears together.
How this work came about:
It's October 2015 and I am staring out the window to the dull grey skies, whilst lying in an old fashioned hospital room. Waiting... for yet another nurse to come and take four vials of blood. And indeed, ten minutes later I'm watching how a new frowning face vigorously tugs and pulls the infusion which, after having drawn over thirty prior vials, now refuses to do its job. I am not ill. At least, I don't think so...
My participation to this well-paying medical research is entirely voluntary. Right? Not long before, I had been informed that, after having carried out three years of exhausting catering work on a zero hour contract, I would not receive a permanent contract because my 'function' had become 'redundant'. Later I found out that I was replaced by a new, sixteen-year-old girl.
According to some contemporary opinions, I am part of the generation called 'millenials'. Apparently, we are spending most of our days on social media, we're self-centered, lazy, pampered and easily upset and burned out. Rather, I believe I am part of a generation of people who have been told their entire lives that the key to success is simply working hard enough, as that will inevitably provide you with a well-paying job and a white picket fence. And perhaps even, if you work really, really hard (what follows seems to be the absolute pinnacle of success in this somewhat outdated 20th-century paradigm), you might become rich and famous! Then, all the world's money and the good things it provides will simply fall into your lap!
The economic crisis lasted for roughly ten years. In this time, I have had around 41 flex/temp/parttime/fulltime jobs. At times, three simultatiously, while also trying to finish my studies. As jobs were scarce, it seemed not just to me, but also to my friends, classmates and peers as well, that we were standing still – for ten years. We were stuck without jobs or prospects, and following a dedace of humiliation at the hands of employers and/or the Employee Ensurance Agency (UWV, red.), all we were left with was a damaged sense of trust.
After five days, the nurse pulled the needle from my vein. With a fat stack of cash and a new sense of disgust with myself, it was time for me to go back home on my own... Two months later, I was granted the Stipendium for Emerging Artists by the Mondriaan Fund (Werkbijdrage Jong Talent, rec.). And very soon, I will be performing on Art Rotterdam, partaking in the Prospects & Concepts expo of this very same Mondriaan Fund. Back in late 2015, I could have only dreamt of such an achievement.
I do not wish to come across as bitter or ungrateful, don't get me wrong, but that hospital and the infusion have never left me. So now will not put up a fake smile (for the pictures). They have become the work of art at hand – and they’ll now question my own courage, my intentions and integrity, and perhaps this also holds for our contemporary zeitgeist. At the end of one of her performances, singer Frederique Spigt once captued my feelings with these words: “The biggest problem of our time is our loneliness.” I think she might have been right...
In any case, I will be present at Art Rotterdam, Prospects & Concepts. You are invited to take place beside my hospital bed, on a wonderfully comfortable plastic folding chair, and you can tell me anything that you need to get off your chest. I will listen to you and be there for you. I will not be going anywhere – and not just because I'm stuck with a needle in my arm, attached to an infusion, bound to my own installation for days on end…