Despite the general call for social distancing and staying inside, the municipal medics of city of Amsterdam advise that homeless documented and undocumented citizens – diverse groups – should be out on the streets during the day. My daily urban activity is now sphering around this group of people that are forced to go out on the streets of Amsterdam and I am part of a diverse support group that follows them. The homeless groups lead my way to improvised shelters and tents in an empty garage or cold parks where people stay during the day and the night.
Me and the empty city
Being one of the supporters I bike through the lonely city, unable to feel connected to the life that other people are having, mainly on the inside.
Contemplating my artistic life, how far away it seems. Only in my mind I make. What do other artists do now. Create content? What’s the meaning of it all.
I feel so physically disconnected from my own art expression. I wonder while biking how the city will evolve the coming years, including my own position and motivations.
Will homeless people be pushed out of the city, out of the city facilities, after these extraordinary pandemic times? Will it be used as an excuses to clean up the city, to allow gentrification to take it’s course. And being part of the homeless life style, will I also feel forced to leave?
Or will we work on the question what physical space per person is needed for a healthy urban life, also for these vulnerable groups. How can we densify again, yet stick to the 1.5 metres, how can and will the groups I meet have social and visual contact, how can they even maintain physical contact if they want to, or even feel connected to other citizens outside their own circle of peers and followers, What if all public buildings, museums and events become less and less accessible. Would people be deprived of their social rights even more? Would we work on the Housing is a Human Right issue?
I feel like a lonely thread, biking through the city, at times too fast, no tourist blocks my way. Wondering if only the artists stay that listen to authorities now and don’t stand up for the people that are treated unjustly. Artists should be even more beware of becoming a decorum these days. We need to take the streets now and transform it into an open public space. Demonstrate. Keep making closed spaces public.