Artist in the Market!

Written by Stefan Breit 

We want to share with you the work of Dutch artist Jeanne van Heswijk, who through her intervention in public spaces reminds us that for change to happen, communities need to become active producers of their own daily environment.

Washing powder to clean your car, plastic roses or curry powder – the Afrikaanderplein Markt in Rotterdam presents a great variety of all kinds of food, clothes and household goods. It’s a multicultural place with many small scale vendors. And it’s partly also a product of the Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk.


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Since the area has undergone recent transformation, van Heeswijk sought to revitalize the market and the people working there. Together with market salesmen, local entrepreneurs and people from the neighborhood, she developed a plan for the future of the market. Through using the approach of social design, she focuses on collaborative production to enforce local communities. The artist itself rather acts as a mediator between situations, places and people, bringing together different people and interests. Van Heeswijk, who defines herself as an artist working in public space, tries to find ways for people to become participants in the future of their daily environments. Like this, locals need to become active and take responsibility too.

Therefore, the built, physical market is only one part of the outcome. The principal value rather lies in the bringing together people and their knowledge. To be more specific, people began to form cooking groups, organizing workshops or fashion shows. The market turned to a open platform for the neighborhood.

The artist herself can explain her thinking best.

Check out the video below to get some first-hand experiences about how social design can improve communities by the example of the „Market of Tomorrow“ in Rotterdam.

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