About Songs for Thomas Piketty
‘Begging boom boxes’ are placed at various locations in the city centre. There is a saucer for coins on top of each one. The boom boxes sing and ask for a contribution.
Nowadays, we are overwhelmed with requests for help. Poverty is on the increase in our country, within Europe we are being asked to support the Greeks and a large group of refugees are appealing to our hospitality. Through economists like Thomas Piketty, we are aware that the gap between the rich and poor will only increase in the coming decades.
To counter-balance this ever-loudening lamentation, we sweep clean the public space: begging became illegal a few years ago and the homeless are driven from tourist zones, including through the installation of anti-homeless furniture. We have institutionalised compassion, we would rather transfer money to a trust-worthy organisation than give it to just any beggar we encounter. The idea of the public domain as a reflection of society is hereby disappearing.
Songs for Thomas Piketty places the needy back in the public space for a while. For a time, they appear to “hack” the showcase of neo-liberal society; the voices radically demand the attention. It calls for the casual passer-by to look at his personal unease. Do we need the poor to talk about poverty? Do we feel more empathy for a machine than for the person it represents?
About Dries Verhoeven
Dries Verhoeven (1976 Oosterhout, the Netherlands) is a theatre maker and visual artist. He creates installations, performances and happenings in museums, on location and in the public spaces of cities. On the boundary between performance and installation art, he critically evaluates the relationships between the spectators, performers, everyday reality and art. The spectator is directly involved in the work or given the opportunity to steer his or her own experiences.
More information on www.driesverhoeven.com
The boom boxes have been seen around Utrecht within the context of Hacking Habitat (26 Feb – 5 June), in Rotterdam being part of Festival de Keuze (16 – 20 March), in Amsterdam within the context of Europe by People (1 – 3 June) and around Arts Festival Watou (BE) (2 July – 4 September). The exact locations in Leuven will be announced in the week prior to the festival (check ‘locaties’).
concept Dries Verhoeven | voices Alexander Schröter, Adriana Pop, Safet, Natalia Goga, Julia Scepanovic, Vlado Doknic, Sascha Stojanovic, Neso Vukanovic, Tatiana Maslova, Dorothea Nikiporczyk artistic assistance Bart van de Woestijne, Ieme Soes | production Saskia Schoenmaker | provision of ghetto blasters under the supervision of Roel Huisman | technician Roel Evenhuis | recording, editing Wouter Messchendorp | sound Tjalling Bal | software development Sylvain Vriens | photography Sander Marsman | thanks to Z!, de Amsterdamse straatkrant
Co-commissioned by the International Art Manifestation Hacking Habitat (www.hackinghabitat.com) and Festival de Keuze (www.festivaldekeuze.nl); made possible with a contribution by the Mondriaan Fund.
If you have any questions concerning Songs for Thomas Piketty, please contact Harmen van Twillert (firstname.lastname@example.org / +31 (0)6 4229 4422).