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As their introduction into the new year, the second years were thrown right into the trash-filled deep end. With only five weeks to complete the project, commissioned by the Province of Limburg and the Dutch Earth Week, the intensity was amped up. The theme, ‘Nomadic Waste in the Meuse’ was initially researched by the third years at the end of last year and graciously handed over to the second years for production and execution under the guidance of the very able, Nina Willems. To get a better understanding of what they were dealing with, the second years visited a polluted site on the bank of the river. Shoes, bags, tires, bottles had all incorporated themselves into the trees and soil but most shocking was the copious amounts of used wet wipes entangled in the branches hanging over the water. The wet wipes come from the sewage pipe that is emptied into the water upstream. From there they divided into groups according to themes and the research process was continued in depth, which quickly lead to concept development. Within the, then 19 second year students, three groups researched, developed and produced their own projects as variations on the theme ‘Nomadic Waste in the Meuse’. The groups and their projects are as follows:
Sense the River
Ruben Bass, Diana Caballero, Milou Elbersen, Joshua Glass, Galiza Islas, Anchel Pablo, Vlad Peregontsev, Mattia Vavassori.
As opposed to the other two projects, this team honed in on the river itself and our relation to it as Maastricht citizens. Their research began by examining the living beings from humans to frogs, that they found along the banks of the Maas. Their findings developed into the feeling that Maastrichters have little or no relationship with the river which is subsequently resulting in the amount of waste collecting in the Maas. From here they developed an individual sensory experience that recreated aspects of the river in an enclosed environment. This allowed each audience member to intensely experience the river through each sense; taste, touch, sound, smell and sight. With the whole process remaining mostly in the dark, instructions were given in a calming meditative voice through headphones. Each individual was guided through the process of tasting tea, smelling a plant, feeling soil beneath their feet with the sound of the river always playing in the background. The experience ends with the lights turning on, illuminating piles of trash around you which disrupts the calm and connected feeling created throughout the previous ten minutes. The group presented their project at the opening of the Dutch Earth Week and the following day at the Lumiere.
Rowan Bartelink, Camila de Freitas, Justine de Ridder, Nirmala Hesselund, Hanna Nijdam, Luida Sharafutdinova.
This group took an interesting angle on the topic as they tried to find an unconventional way to make people think twice about waste. During the research phase the second years noticed a duality in our actions as humans; everything we do negatively affects the environment in some way even when our intentions are initially good. With this in mind the “Wake up” team began researching campaigning methods and whether or not they could be twisted in favour of this duality dilemma. Their research concluded that the most successful campaigns are those that are relatable and don’t force the feeling of guilt onto the audience. So what did they do with this new found knowledge? They started the ‘Wake Up’ campaign. This consisted of a series of portrait photographs with a quote from the subject above their head. The quote contained a duality that the person in the photograph, experienced in daily life. These posters were printed at large and posted all around the city. They also created a portable photo booth that was set up in specific locations to attract their target audience: students. For their final presentation they approached students in a cafeteria and asked their opinion on the topic of duality, collected their quotes and photographed them. These photos can be found on their website; https://iarts2020.wixsite.com/wakeup. Through these posters and online presence they hope to “open a space for discussion where everyone is invited to think and share about duality in their own daily life”.
Bella De Angelis, Isobel Dyson, Tessa Mendez, Torgeir Riise, Sophie van Leeuwen
Interestingly, apart from the wet wipes, the most common category of waste along the river is old pieces of clothing or fabric. Anneliek Peters, one of the third years, noticed this on her trip to the polluted river bank. Continuing with this discovery, the second years mentioned above, began their research into what could be done with this waste fabric and on a broader more global level by questioning: how did it get there? The research was translated into multiple mediums. A portion of the fabrics collected were transformed into five different outfits. The outfits questioned the value of waste and the point when clothing becomes waste. The question, “how dirty are your clothes?” was also a continuing theme throughout the research phase as the group deepened their knowledge of the fashion industry and its destructive practices; are the clothes pulled out of the river anymore polluted than the ones hanging on the racks in Zara? This research was translated into a aesthetically pleasing magazine that mimicked the structure of a fashion magazine to make it more familiar to the general public. The final presentation consisted of a magazine launch in an empty shop in the Entre Deux. The Distressed conceptual pop-up store was open for a week. It aimed to attract everyday Maastricht shoppers by disguising the harshness of the content behind the facade of just another shop. Inside the “shop” the magazines were on sale, the 5 outfits were displayed on mannequins interspersed between raw river fabrics hanging from the ceiling. To add more shop-like qualities there was a clothing swap available for audience members/customers to trade clothes with. The Distressed team are continuing this project together, so for more information and photos you can check them out on instagram @distressedmagazine.
~ written by Isobel Dyson — second year iArts student
Sense the River