What to do in corona-times with… Willem Dieleman

In 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 these unusual times. This week: Willem Dieleman.

Willem Dieleman (33) is a writer, speaker, pancake adventurer and museum director. He is co-owner and founder of the Museum of Unintentional Art that motivates people to use their imagination and look at the world with different eyes. MOK does this by ascribing compositions in the public space a museum sign and a story, giving meaning to a rather insignificant object.

Hi Willem, how did you end up at the NDSM-wharf?

Since this summer, I’m in the office of the Museum of Unintentional Art which is in the NDSM Treehouse. Besides that, I try to impress my international guests by cycling with them over the terrain. A young Indian architect was almost moved to tears when he cycled here.

And what is keeping you busy now?

The MOK won the NDSM Open Call 2020  and now we can turn the terrain into a museum. The ultimate goal of the MOK is that people can go to our exhibitions with a museum year card. For this purpose I am now applying for different funds and looking for collaborations.

We can’t wait! What survival tip have you been holding onto lately?

My life pre-covid didn’t differ much from the present time. For me, joint quarantine was a survival tip in itself. Spending little money, little social drinking and no FOMO. Playing some fun games and with guests at an appropriate distance. I think the feeling of togetherness is what has kept everyone positive lately.

The board games and jigsaw puzzles have made a big comeback. Is there any music that has kept you positive?

I’ve created a playlist called ‘Willem is Feeling Good’. If I listen to it, I’m feeling happy right away. When I have to work hard I sometimes put Om Mani Padme Hum on repeat.

It’s hard not to move to this list. Is there a podcast we should really listen to?

During Corona Tim Franssen came up with a podcast ‘De samenleving een nabeschouwing’. Very entertaining and funny. Also ‘Heavyweight’ is very nice, there Jonathan Goldstein tries to solve old feuds or mysteries of ordinary people, often with ironic storytelling.

Which film or book would you recommend? 

Movies, always tricky. Lately I was gripped by ‘The King of the Cruise’, the lonely baron who lives on cruise ships and sadly tries to give meaning to his life. I love the more absurdist films: Alex van Warmerdam and Charlie Kaufman.

And as for books, I recently read ‘The Atlas of Remote Islands‘. It contains information about all the islands you will never go to, some islands are visited less often than the moon. So it’s perfect to experience your desire to travel from the comfort of your couch.

These are many great tips! Did you learn a new ritual during the coronation period?

I baked a lot of pies and made cocktails in the beginning. Besides that I didn’t want to watch TV every night so I started meditating, walking and playing games.

Right you are! As museum director there must be many works that inspires you. Is there one in particular? 

The MOK houses many inspiring works, such as The Other Side in Sydney: a crack between two houses where a beautiful light shines through and where it is just too narrow to actually get to the light. The MOK could be seen as a conceptual work of art. In that respect I find the Dadaists very inspiring. Where the Dadaists brought objects to the museum and said: so, now that’s art, we turn the museum walls inside out and say: so, now this is all art. Besides this I find most of Marina Abramovic’s work very impressive.

This has been a time for reflection for many, have you come to a certain realisation? 

My project Pancake Adventures is about how valuable giving something small is. During corona it was emphasized once again that many people like to give something (the nursing homes said they don’t need cakes anymore), but that something bad has to happen first before they see that. After the first corona anxiety had subsided, the initiatives also became less popular.

And in conclusion: what are your expectations of post-corona time? 

I think we’ve survived worse as human beings, so I’m not that worried. I hope we’ll have a simpler life. That people no longer have to fly to Bali every year, but can also cross Europe over land. That we can bring about a lot with little luxury. That’s what we are trying to do with the MOK: to tell stories to the surroundings that are already there.

Click here to follow Willem on Instagram.


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