“All community art is, at the very least, relational art.”

(Pascal Gielen)



creating and documenting communities
via the theater

From the very start, my artistic work has shown an interest in community. Its workings and breakdowns. Its possibilities and pitfalls. Its stories and its lies. Even before my time in the theater, when I was studying sculpting, my work often included an element of sociological research.


(Fun fact: as a 19-year-old student I went door to door in the rural village where I was born, asking people about their most memorable artistic experience. I organized all answers on file cards in a cabinet – an almost bureaucratic snapshot of what kind of arts brought my neighbours to tears or elation.)

From the very start, my artistic work has shown an interest in community and social relationships. I’ve always been curious about the modalities of our social behaviour: why do we do what we do, why do our actions rarely correspond with our thinking? A personal trait played a part as well: when feeling powerless in the face of violence and injustice, I often experienced anger. My attempt at a solution is to facility meetings and encourage connections via the theater.


The ways in which I pursued this goal of community were varied. I made several series of photographic portraits that were exhibited in public spaces. I used audio and video to portray communities. And of course, I wielded the narrative power of the theater.

Whenever possible, my artistic research into aspects of community disregarded nationality and crossed national borders. Because the complexities and dynamics of community building are the same everywhere.


A successful society is based on trust. You counter distrust by removing the perceived threat of the unknown. Theater can be a perfect vehicle to achieve this. Especially when you gather stories across borders. That is what I often did and do: harvest stories in one place and plant them in another.

Hannah Arendt saw a strong link between nationalism and the nation state – and all its dangerous consequences. That is why I conduct research into a form of theater that can facilitate meetings across national borders. Art can help create communities that aren’t defined by nationalist concepts.