What to do in corona-times with… Marc Koolen

In these times of #socialdistancing, we’d like to introduce you to all those people at the wharf. We’ve asked them for their Monday motivation and how they’re getting through the corona crisis. This week: Marc Koolen.

Marc Koolen is one of the initiators behind the NDSM Treehouse. The small artists’ village comprises more than 110 individual studios where creatives and artists can develop their talents. Marc himself has a background in theatre and also founded the theatre platform PickUp that offers young artists a space to realize their dreams.

Hello Marc, how do you experience working at the NDSM-wharf?

Trained as a theatre maker, I look at the world around me as a stage in which I can make all kinds of interventions with a lot of fun. Usually desired by my surroundings, but sometimes unsolicited and abrasive. The more drastic I work, the more exciting it can be. For me and others around me. Fortunately, the NDSM site is a place where you can chop wood, as long as you clean up your chips. Most of the artists around me fortunately acknowledge that you are allowed to fail in order to move on. I’ve had strong words coming my way. That’s just clear and enlightening. It’s nice as a creator when the material you work with comments on what you’re doing. That happens in the Treehouse. A big set up where all kinds of people are doing all kinds of things with each other and inappropriately whisper something in my ear from time to time… Very nice to watch.

Creativity and good ideas in abundance over here! What impact does this time have on you?

This quiet period when you don’t have to do anything is very nice. It’s a sense of staying in place. It’s enjoyably tranquil and I now keep a spring clean and am sorting out the possibilities in programming. Small, intimate, alienating, personal. Now I’m looking for an individual experience for one single person. I already did this in miniature with Let’s Kill the Moonshine, SORRY and Stumbling Wires. The next step will be some more permanent installations that, I hope, will lead a life of their own.

Is there anything you’ve been able to get inspiration from? 

Because there also belongs a stage in the playground for artists I make, I listen and watch online presentations. How do others do this? What does or doesn’t work? The musicians I work with are open to crossovers and thus go further than a jolly DJ who is freaking out on his own. An online DJ battle or a salsa DJ who occasionally takes steps and encourages me to try something out at home appeals to me more.

What are you longing for now?

The summer days in Amsterdam look more and more like a strolling jeu des boules field in the shade of large plane trees. I enjoy people who have mastered the art of strolling. There can be beauty in the way you carry and sway your shoulder bag. Do you wear the legs of your jeans in or out? Can you casually hide your wet sweaty spots in your white shirt? The new heat in the city calls for the new strolling. I miss the ricard drinks with a jug of ice-cold water on a terrace on the Lindengracht. Practicing how to gracefully tie my lace bow to give a casual wink to a red linen Gucci doll.

Are you already a bit used to that 1.5 meter?

To be honest I already did social distancing. Why do you have to kiss again and again? Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me!

Nothing new for you. And what else do you like to do?

Lying in a hammock with my daughter and reading books.

Sounds pretty good! Finally, what are your expectations of a post-corona time?

The most logical thing would be a counter-reaction where intimacy and a deepening contact between people would be more central than before. Older people don’t want to be deprived of human contact. Everyone wants to touch and be touched. The chilly observation that a deadly virus can break out at any moment will underline your wafer-thin transience and can introduce an apocalyptic period: “My Time is Now”; focused on instant pleasure and ego satisfaction. Group sex, drug parties and kicking against the government that interferes with everything. Which in turn will lead to mass suicides, I’m afraid. But by that time we will realize that we ourselves are the antivirus.

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