Feb 2021
Giving and Taking with Artist Jan van Esch
“Do you think I can wash this in the washing machine?”
What started with a yeti suit developed into an artistic practice centered around secondhand and used clothing. In this blog text for Modemuze, I dive into the work of artist, social scientist and dear friend Jan van Esch.
Situated somewhere between ZK/U – Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik, Nafasi Art Space and This is an Intervention!, and partly based on an interview between Jan and Judith Wajsgrus from Cashmere Radio, it looks into the reciprocal dynamics of giving and taking.


An English version of this text is available on my blog!

Sep 2020
Cut it up and start again: Duran Lantink’s response to the the new normal
Up until the last century, all kinds of textile were so costly that people – rich and poor – generally used them until they no longer could. Sometimes it was even a trend. A one of a kind example is the cashmere evening robe, made from a prime luxury item in the late 19th century.
Nowadays, textiles and clothing have become cheaper than they have ever been. Replacing is easier than repairing. The fashion industry needs to change from its core and there is a need for strong examples that can guide us in a new direction. Duran Lantink’s signature collage technique combines unsold ‘deadstock’ clothing into new hybrid designs that recontextualize the value of clothing. Such new aesthetics show us the way to rediscover the time-honoured philosophy of appreciation for what we already have.

in the framework of the exhibition ‘the new normal’ at OSCAM Amsterdam in cooperation with Modemuze


Apr 2020
7 Years after Rana Plaza
Every year on the 24th of April, I reflect on and think about the victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse that took place in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, in 2013. Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, this year’s Fashion Revolution Day is a special one: no (live) events but all the more reason to pay attention to this topic. What has happened in the past seven years, and how are things looking today?

In this blog post for Modemuze (in Dutch), I reflect on the implications of Rana Plaza, the influence of the corona-crisis on the fashion industry, and where to go from here.


Jan 2020
The dark sides of fast fashion: in conversation with “cultural seismologist” Judith Schühle
Interview with Judith Schühle, curator at the Museum for European Cultures in Berlin, about the exhibition Fast Fashion: The dark sides of fashion – on sustainability in the textile industry and the responsibility of museums.

excerpt: Was ist nun die Rolle des Museums in diesem komplexen Zusammenhang? „Das Museum hat eine Verantwortung, diesem Thema kritische Aufmerksamkeit zu geben“, sagt Judith Schühle. „Ich verstehe Sozial- und Kulturanthropolog*innen als Seismografen der Themen, die Menschen in einer Gesellschaft, in unserem Fall in Europa, aktuell beschäftigen. Wir müssen die Ausschläge erkennen, so wie bei einem Erdbeben. Fast Fashion ist definitiv ein Teil davon. Nachhaltigkeit, Umweltschutz, Klimakrise – dort gibt es momentan extreme Ausschläge.“ Die Kuratorin des MEK betrachtet Museen auch als demokratische Orte, an denen Minderheiten einen geschützten Raum finden: Gruppen, die einen bestimmten Schutz gegenüber der Mehrheitsgemeinschaft brauchen. „Als solche Orte, an denen dieser Schutz gelebt und vorgelebt wird, verstehe ich Museen“, so Schühle.

published in German: Die Schattenseiten der Mode: „Kultur-Seismologin“ Judith Schühle im Gespräch über Fast Fashion, Museum and the City, Blog der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin
published in Dutch: De schaduwzijde van fast fashion: in gesprek met “cultuurseismoloog” Judith Schühle, Modemuze.nl

Hacking Urban Furniture
Publication collecting a wide variety of case studies, artworks and prototypes that were produced and presented in the context of the Hacking Urban Furniture project. Urban furniture combined with outdoor advertising has determined the public space of metropolises for more than 30 years. The project explores the history, present and future of urban furniture in collaboration with artists, urban explorers, administrators, politicians, activists and researchers, exploring the potential of spatial public service design in the city.

Role: Translator
a project by KUNSTrePULIK & Shared Cities: Creative Momentum
published by ZK/U Press
funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union and the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe

How to Wash a Yeti? And Other Challenges for the Artist on the ‘Outside’
Essay tracing the history of the Artist Placement Group to contemporary practices of institutional critique and social engagement in the arts, specifically to the work of the ZK/U – Center for Art and Urbanistics and their Artist Dis-Placement residency programme – asking the question: what is the role of the artist in a non-art context?

excerpt: “Do you think I can wash this in the washing machine?” As I enter Studio 7 in ZK/U’s residency building, the artist-anthropologist Jan van Esch is holding what looks like a fluffy white yeti suit. He collected his latest thrift shop treasure from the ‘Kleiderkammer’, the Red Cross department that collects, selects and distributes second-hand clothing. The yeti suit is but one of the many items that end up in the heaps of garments that the German Red Cross deems unsuitable for their second-hand shop in Charlottenburg, Berlin. As part of his Artist DisPlacement (ADP) project at the ZK/U Center for Art and Urbanistics, Jan collected the most interesting and eccentric pieces from these heaps of ‘unsellable’ clothing, and re-contextualised them as part of his art project ‘Drawn Clothes’, in photo shoots, pop-up stores, exhibitions, fashion shows and auctions, all paired with hand-drawn art pieces of the items for sale.

published in ARTECITYA: 9 approaches to urban challenges
published by MoTAEditions
funded by the Creative Europe / Culture programme of the European Commission

© Jan van Esch

Aug 2017
ART as/is SOCIAL: The Commons
How can art and art institutions contribute to the Commons and take on practices of commoning? This article discusses the use and value of the notion of the Commons within artistic, curatorial and art-institutional contexts, and explores various formats for commoning in the artistic and social realm. Based on session #6 of the research project ART as/is SOCIAL, co-hosted by Rebecca Beinart, Engagement Curator at Primary.

excerpt: Within a collective, how do you negotiate and decide on individual income? Is paying rent a personal or a social interest? Should everybody earn exactly the same amount of money? These are topics not many people are willing to talk about but it is important we open up this conversation and let go of personal differences. Collaboration doesn’t mean harmony, it always reveals conflict. But conflict does not mean there is no working together. Conflict can be highly productive, and a collective has to be able to deal with it.

published in PRIMARY Programme Notes Nottingham

Ian Nesbitt, The Commoners’ Fair, Nottingham, 2016. Cider: Blue Barrel Cider © Reece Straw

Manifesta 10
Chapter in the volume I can’t work like this: A reader on recent boycotts and contemporary art, discussing the 10th edition of the nomadic biennial Manifesta in Saint Petersburg in 2014. The preparation and opening of Manifesta 10 coincided with a series of politically highly controversial events in Russia, including the publication of a bill legally banning the public propagation of homosexuality and LGBTQ values, and the Russian annexation of Crimea. This chapter tracks the events and developments leading up to the opening of Manifesta 10, and presents the viewpoints of several actors involved through interviews and statements.

co-authored with Ágnes Básthy & Anna Ten
edited by Joanna Warsza
published by Sternberg Press Berlin
in collaboration with the International Summer Academy Salzburg