Freehouse Radicalizing the Local (2008–2019)

Jeanne van Heeswijk

[Use the + and –  & the hand cursor to zoom in and move around the diagram.]

This diagram by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk depicts the story of Freehouse Radicalizing the Local, a project focusing on the struggle for the right to live well in the Afrikaanderwijk neighborhood of Rotterdam. The project grew from the overarching collaborative project Freehouse (1998–ongoing) in Rotterdam, initiated by Jeanne van Heeswijk as a space where local inhabitants meet to exchange knowledge, experience, and ideas, as well as to engage in mutually beneficial cultural-economic co-productions. From 2008 onward, Freehouse has applied this approach to the Afrikaanderwijk, and has cultivated neighborhood empowerment through community participation, cultural and economic self-organization, and inclusive urban development.

The diagram shows the process of building a collaborative political economy by bringing together informal cultural and economic practices of the everyday into stronger networks and urban unions, evolving into a new organizational form on the scale of a neighborhood. This solidarity-driven initiative still operates today (run mostly from the Afrikaanderwijk Cooperative), albeit not without significant challenges, as a testament that models of being together otherwise are possible outside of the current dominant politico-economic “reality.”

Freehouse Radicalizing the Local was on view at BAK previously as part of the exhibition component of Trainings for the Not-Yet (2019–2020). There it formed one of the “annotations” to Dreamscape, an installation combining timelines and maps of Van Heeswijk’s past projects with new knowledge emerging from various “trainings.” From 20 June–27 July 2020, Freehouse Radicalizing the Local is on view at Gemaal op Zuid in Rotterdam as part of the series Wider Perspectives, where it is extended with new events.

Jeanne van Heeswijk, Freehouse Radicalizing the Local, 2008–2019, installation view Trainings for the Not-Yet, BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2019–2020

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