“Art is also: keeping hope under bad conditions”
I did not yet know the atmosphere of the old bourgeoisie in the Netherlands. I am doing an internship at an Arnhems architectural office. During the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven the boss of the office was invited for a chic dinner. I was allowed to come. Designers and traders sat at the table. Guests wore expensive clothes and huge jewelry. A woman at the table said: ‘I am going to an island where there are no people. So there is no electricity. ” The whole crowd turned to her and shouted, “You’re kidding, really ?! And also without a power bank ?! ‘ She said: “No, I find it very difficult too.” “Oh my God, that’s great,” everyone said at the same time.
Meanwhile, large plates were served with a very small snack in the middle. Decorated with sauce and rosemary. The plate with food looked like a graduation project from an art academy student. That you look at the graduation work and think, huh? The guests took a white cloth, put it on their knees and chose the right cutlery. I saw how I put that pile of food in my mouth in one movement. All those preparations seemed pretty unnecessary to me for such a small snack.
On the way back home I listened to the radio. Coincidentally there was a guest speaker who had been to Syria. She told how people live there: ‘I am very impressed how people live there. They build a room between the ruins’. ‘But how?’ the presenter asked. I answered the question in my head. That is the art of living. Art is not just a painting or a strangely curved piece of steel. Art is also: keeping hope under bad conditions. Build a room between a lot of stones to live on.
I immediately adjust my CV: I am an artist.
In the morning, Dutch people look at weird graphs with rain showers as if they were God
I am in my room with tears in my eyes. I look outside and at my laptop. I try to find a scientific solution for a problem with many Dutch people. And with me, apparently. A depressed feeling. I’m searching on Google. It says that the exact cause of depression is unknown. I think Mr. Google has never been to the Netherlands. Otherwise he would have found one cause. The weather in the Netherlands.
So awkward and confusing. When I bring the summer clothes to the attic, the sun starts to shine. And when I go outside without a coat, it starts raining. In the Netherlands you sometimes see one cloud in the sky, but it still rains everywhere. Or you can see the whole sky full of clouds, but it is still warm. I think about my outfit. Almost bare, wearing only underwear and a thick coat, like a clown. How quickly the weather changes seems to me to be one of the causes of depression
My Dutch acquaintances look at strange graphs in the morning. They see showers passing by on a map as if they are God and know exactly where it rains. That’s why they take all the clothes they need. I also downloaded the app, but I don’t understand the moving lines and clouds in my screen. So I’m still on a rainy day with a T-shirt.
I went to the editorial team of De Gelderlander to hand in my column. I saw my colleagues, they were very different from a few weeks ago when the sun was shining. As we say in Syria: “It was as if they had been taken out of the grave with a return contract.” It means that people look like they were allowed to come out of their graves for a while. I immediately felt a little better. So it’s not just me.
Panic with Aldi bag: “Typically Dutch, to turn anything into anything”
While shopping at Presikhaaf in Arnhem, a man stood by a broken bottle machine. He wanted to press a service button to ask for help, but pressed the fire alarm. The security guard was immediately told that it was a mistake by a customer. But the Dutch, who always panic, cannot remain calm even in such a situation. It seemed as if strange space creatures had invaded the mall where customers fled. All stores had to be closed and everyone had to leave the building. A robot voice said that echoed through the corridors.
It is typically Dutch to turn anything into anything. I also had to go outside, even though I already knew that nothing was wrong. When I was outside, I kept looking inside. People in a panic trying to flee a building. The image is not new, only it differs from my earlier experiences during my run for freedom. In my memory from the past I see a mother running with her deceased child an apartment building in Aleppo. They were white with dust. Now I saw a woman running in a panic with an Aldi bag; people don’t know where to go, where they can hide or are safe. Here in Presikhaaf, everyone ran outside and stood in designated places; people, including my family, had lost everything. Our bombed flat was the beginning of homelessness. Here it was only a delay of the shopping.
How nice that a building is already secured here after a possible incident, instead of a large bombing first, after which survivors run out of the building injured. I am so glad that the old memories go into the background, and that I get new, funny memories from you. A woman in a panic with an Aldi bag.