In 2023, Eva Koopmans was asked by Welcome to the Village and VHDG to create a new work of art together with eleven social organizations. This resulted in the multimedia installation De Wachtkamer (in english: The Waiting Room) consisting of twenty chairs. These chairs were made during workshops by people who receive professional care every day. The final presentation will take place on February 1st and 2nd in the Town Hall in Leeuwarden. In the run-up to this, we interviewed Eva about the process of making this art installation.
Who is Eva Koopmans? Eva Koopmans is a relational artist and designer with a background in scenography. She deals with spatial interventions that allow people and places to interact. Facilitating encounters is a red line in all her work. Whether in theater, at festivals or in companies. Eva uses art as a way to participate in processes of change, but also to practice together on a small scale. For De Wachtkamer Eva is collaborating with Yuna Linde of Theater de Makkers. Theater de Makkers is a social artistic company active mainly in Zwolle, Groningen and Leeuwarden.
How did the proces of the project start? In February 2023, Eva was approached by Welcome to the Village and VHDG to develop a new artwork in collaboration with eleven social organizations. Instead of coming up with a concept for an artwork prior to the process, she wanted to invest in an equal collaboration with the partners to come up with an idea together. An idea that actually connects to the issues of the different organizations, and the people involved in them, and that they want to share with a broader audience.
Together with Yuna, Eva has been working for some time on a method that allows for equal collaboration between artists and social organizations. It is for this reason that after initial discussions with Welcome to the Village and VHDG, Yuna joined as a co-creator within this project.
What has happened so far? Eva and Yuna spent a research period looking for the common denominator between the different organizations. To do this, they engaged in conversation with the staff and participants. They did this through creative meetings with clay and building blocks, trying to map the healthcare system together. Business structures of the organizations were discussed, as well as personal challenges and concerns. Through sharing stories, the big issues surrounding healthcare became more and more humane. It soon became clear that that was where art could play a role. Bringing those complicated issues back to the human scale so that everyone could relate to them.
Eventually, six organizations joined in to continue the project. Eva and Yuna developed an artistic concept as a result of all the conversations and shared it with the partners during a meeting evening. Then they worked with the participants of the organizations to implement the artwork, through workshop days. During these days, everyone was asked to design their own chair to be used in a waiting room. The waiting room; a symbol of today’s healthcare system, often invisible to the outside world, but hard to get out of for the people in the middle of it.
A presentation half way through the process was held on Dec. 11, where participants and staff from the various partners were able to meet and view the work created together.
The affiliated social organizations consist of: Singelland BHS Gorredijk, art workshop Smoel, ‘t DAC and Skrep Wender, Crisis shelter Burgum, Nobody on the sidelines and Patyna Witmarsum.
Leading up to the presentation, what is currently being worked on? Right now, Yuna and Eva are working to further develop the final product. Stories of experts by experience who receive and/or bear care are being collected, which will be heard in De Wachtkamer. In this way, Yuna and Eva are making an attempt to humanize the complex care system. A system we all play a role in, but are often unaware of. By sharing the different stories, they invite the visitor to the work to relate to the stories and take a position in them themselves.
In addition to collecting and editing the stories, they work to further the visitor’s experience. How do you ensure that everyone gets the most out of the story of the work? And how do you make the work accessible to everyone?
What sources of inspiration were used in the research? The sources of inspiration before and during this project are mainly the participants of the social partners: it is incredibly inspiring to be able to walk with them in their own creative process. In addition, we have many conversations with the employees of the organizations. This gives us a realistic picture of what it means today to take care of each other. Adding to this, we were able to get a lot from the book “Care, a better view of people,” by Lynn Berger.
What can we expect during the final presentation? On February 1 and 2, the work De Wachtkamer will be presented at the Town Hall in Leeuwarden. De Wachtkamer is a multimedia installation about caring for each other. Who takes care of you and what do you take care of? De Wachtkamer consists of twenty chairs made by different people who receive professional care every day. It also features stories from experts by experience who provide or receive care professionally as well as privately. During the presentation of the work, the conversation with the visitor is about their role in the care system and they are asked to literally take a position.
With De Wachtkamer, Eva and Yuna make current issues as well as radical alternatives, visible and discussable.
De Wachtkamer can be visited on February 1st and 2nd at the Town Hall in Leeuwarden. The presentation is open to the public on Thursday from 10:00 to 17:00 and on Friday from 10:00 to 16:00. On Thursday, February 1st, the opening will take place from 16:00 to 17:00. Are you joining us for the opening? If so, let us know by sending an email to email@example.com