In 2017 I came up with the idea to start a collaboration between myself as an art student and 'the Other' (Thomas
Hirschhorn’s theory) as a teacher. In such a collaboration a common interest is central. In this case, that was
it related to the construction industry. Although this idea was primarily for my own learning process, I thought
it would also be interesting to find out what this collaboration between two different worlds (me and the other)
could deliver. With a different approach and from a different objective.
I decided to contact the company REAKT. which is a social participation project for work disabled people.REAKT is committed to reintegrating this group of people into society. It has seven branches in The Hague consisting of, among other things, bicycle repair shops, art galleries and woodwork shops. People who have become unfit for work are encouraged to continue working here and thereby participate in our society. They earn a volunteers fee of 1.50 euro per hour. I went to REAKT to look for people who had worked in the construction industry.
I volunteered in REAKT’s bicycle repair shop to meet and work with others and was soon introduced to Carlos
Henriquez (1969). He was the heart of the bike shop, keeping everything running and ensuring that everyone was
kept busy. For several days he taught me how to repair bicycles. Then I came up with the idea to start my own
bicycle shop at the art academy, under Carlos’s direction. I asked his to be my ‘teacher', as it were, in the
bicycle repair process and he ageed.
Within a week we’d transformed my studio at the art academy into a bike shop. In no time the entire academy was aware that a cheap bicycle shop had appeared. Soon there was a row of broken bicycles awaiting their turn in my studio. Carlos and I tinkered for three months on the bikes, earning pocket money all the while. A few weeks into our collaboration Carlos came up with the news that he was formerly a professional welder. This was exactly what I was looking for, he could be both my teacher in repairing bikes and in the craftsmanship of welding.
Carlos came up with the idea to produce a wrought iron balcony for his appartment, which at that time had no railing. Together we implemented his idea. With the money that we had earned with the bike shop we bought the metal for the railing.
Carlos taught me all the tricks of the trade of welding, and that’s how a nice French style balcony came into being. When the balcony had been installed, without planning permission, we organized an official ‘undercover opening ceremony’.
The day of the opening arrived and at the appointed time a group of people who’d been invited were hanging around
in the street below. The balcony had been draped with a sheet and when the group was large enough Carlos swept
the sheet aside and ‘officially’ declared the balcony open. Champagne corks popped (actually two bottles of beer)
and the party started, continuing into the late hours.