Jeanne van Heeswijk

community - netwerk

Jeanne van Heeswijk is an artist who facilitates the creation of dynamic and diversified public spaces in order to “radicalize the local”. Her long-scale community-embedded projects question art’s autonomy by combining performative actions, discussions, and other forms of organizing and pedagogy in order to enable communities to take control of their own futures. Van Heeswijk’s work has been featured in numerous books and publications worldwide, as well as internationally renowned biennials such as those of Liverpool, Busan, Taipei, Shanghai and Venice. She has received international for her work, including most recently the 2012 Curry Stone Prize for Social Design Pioneers and the 2011 Leonore Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change.

Philadelphia Assembled City Panorama - Philadelphia Assembled City Panorama (2017) is a collective visualization of a complex network of people, histories, and aesthetics, realized as part of the collaborative project Philadelphia Assembled, initiated by Jeanne van Heeswijk at Philadelphia Museum of Art. Developed through ongoing workshops that sought to add “missing” perspectives, each new panel of the panorama opens a new framework through which to see the city as a continuously changing constellation. The city gets narrated from multiple standpoints, opening vistas into myriad personal and public geographies. The panorama makes visible that which dominant systems and linear understandings of time would otherwise keep unseen, and narrates the city from the grassroots.
Works, Typologies and Capacities - 2004, installation with potatoes and wall prints. A staple food in most of the world and a lifeline for many in poverty, the potato has come to symbolize basic needs and simple living, especially in the face of the harsh realities of precarity. Jeanne van Heeswijk carries these meanings into the installation Works, Typologies and Capacities, focusing on the transformations of work and labor conditions for communities impoverished by the workings of logistical capitalism. The structure consists of thousands of potatoes interconnected in an intricate constellation, suspended from the ceiling. Van Heeswijk chose 26 different potato varieties on the basis of specific qualities suggested by their names and descriptions, such as “sustainable,” “resilient,” “strong-minded,” and “grown abroad.” She likens these qualities to the knowledges, competences, and skills of people working together to resist the current circumstances as they struggle for survival. This becomes palpable over time as the effects of air and moisture begin to show in the installation: potatoes sprout and further propagate, developing ever-new nodes of sustenance, relations, collaborations, and networks of solidarity. Photo: Jeanne van Heeswijk, Works, Typologies and Capacities, Trainings for the Not-Yet, BAK basis voor actuele kunst, 2019. Photo by Tom Janssen.
Mobile of Interdependency (Acts of Balance) - by Jeanne van Heeswijk and Afrikaanderwijk Cooperative 2014, an installation with light boxes, pedestals, and CO-OP-sourced objects. Mobile of Interdependency (Acts of Balance) is a large kinetic structure suspended from the ceiling, with the weight of light boxes held in balance as they hang from the rods. The light boxes present a number of Dutch words, with meanings such as “collective,” “culture,” “self-organization,” “local,” “value,” etc., as they hover above pedestals and lecterns displaying labor-related objects sourced from within a community that jointly owns and manages the Afrikaanderwijk Cooperative—a neighborhood-scale cooperative in Rotterdam. These elements reflect the values of an experimental solidarity economy and the collective forms of governance of the co-op, which itself resulted from research and work by Freehouse in Afrikaanderwijk (2008–2013), a project initiated by Jeanne van Heeswijk. A radically new form of local self-organization, the Afrikaanderwijk Cooperative is committed to keeping the circle of investment, production, and profit enclosed within their shared locale. By means of the collaborative meshing of knowledge, experience, creative values, and production capacities, the co-op aims to improve not just the lives of its members, but of their entire neighborhood, fulfilling multiple economic, social, ecological, and cultural aspirations. The mobile structure, in continuous motion and in search of a fragile equilibrium, is a reminder however that the cooperative infrastructure is one of interdependency and is always a delicate balancing act.
Freehouse, Radicalizing the Local - This diagram narrates Freehouse Radicalizing the Local (2008–2013), the story of the struggle for the right to live well in the Afrikaanderwijk neighborhood of Rotterdam. It grew from a collaborative project Freehouse (1998–ongoing) in Rotterdam, initiated by Jeanne van Heeswijk: a space where local inhabitants—from shopkeepers to youngsters to artists to designers and so on—meet to exchange knowledge, experience, and ideas, as well as to engage in mutually beneficial cultural-economic co-productions. From 2008 onward, applying its approach to Afrikaanderwijk, Freehouse has sought neighborhood empowerment through community participation, cultural and economic self-organization, and inclusive urban development. Radicalizing the Local shows the process of building a collaborative political economy by bringing together informal cultural and economic practices of the everyday into stronger networks and urban unions, evolving into a new organizational form on the scale of a neighborhood. This solidarity-driven initiative still operates today, albeit not without gigantic challenges, as a proof that models of being together otherwise are possible in spite of today’s politico-economic “reality,” which presents itself as one without alternatives. The diagram is yearly updated and exhibited at various places; at van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven (2013); during Trainings for the Not-Yet, BAK basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht (2019) and Gemaal op Zuid, Wider Perspectives, Rotterdam (2020).
‘Training for the Not-Yet – A collective online publishing platform’ - is a collective online publishing platform that brings together a multitude of practitioners from a wide range of disciplines to share their knowledge and methodologies on social engagement, radical collectivity and active empowerment. This platform will always be changing and growing as it hosts past and future trainings, digital interactive tools, exercises and resources, with the ability for participants of trainings to make edits and annotations online. Past trainings, from locations across the world, will soon be online as well as tools and exercises reformatted for this platform. Currently most trainings online took place as part of ‘Training(s) for the Not yet’ a four month exhibition consisting of over 30 trainings, learning objects, discussions, talks and resources, at BAK - basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht in 2019/2020. ‘Training for the Not-Yet’, convened by Jeanne van Heeswijk with many collaborators, aims to build together a curriculum of community learnings. made of performative workshops, theoretical frameworks, learning objects and test sites.