Kleinpolder in Beweging - collaborative project with Geert van Mil, Mette Sterre and Alex Strik

In 2011 housing corporation Woonstad Rotterdam asked us for the second time to create an art project in and about the neighborhood Kleinpolder in the North-West of Rotterdam. It is a neighborhood characterized by modernist social housing blocks and a large population with a non-European background. The apartment blocks are due to be demolished in 2012.

We wanted the dialogue and the collaboration with the inhabitants to be the pivot of the project. During one week we inhabited a public lawn, a place that doesn't belong to us. From here we facilitated several interventions in the neighborhood, always dressed in red overalls. With our clear presence in the public space we aimed to create a welcoming area that was open for all residents and that was open for all processes that took place on the spot.

The interventions aimed to get a head start on the future by making the coming developments and their impact visible in a playful way. The most important visual element of the project where the 358 cardboard boxes, one for every apartment that is going to be demolished. This pile of boxes made the scale of the operation tangible. Although for the housing corporation it is a relatively small city renewal project, on neighborhood level it causes the closure of the primary school.

The big pile of boxes became inviting building material for new architectonic structures, while at the same time it functioned as an alarming prelude for the uprooting of the whole neighborhood. Together with the children we erected labyrinths, castles and space ships. The continuously evolving structure materialized numerable possibilities, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. Through the handling of these oversized building blocks the childrens' image of their surroundings slowly transformed.The neighborhood which had been a established fact for the younger generation changed into a field where new houses are 'tested' again and again.

An other part of the project consisted of a series of haunted house photo's in which we portrayed residents of the neighborhood in their apartments. The white sheets covering their furniture and their own eerie appearance gave the impression that they had left years ago. The twilight zone of the photo's functioned as a metaphor for the state of in between the residents of Kleinpolder find themselves in. The demolition of the apartment blocks has been postponed several times which keeps the inhabitants in limbo. These portraits provided a platform for the inhabitants to make their situation public.

These haunted house photo's were, together with four photo's documenting the cardboard box intervention, displayed as large scale billboards on the facade of two building blocks.