What to do in corona-times with… Marjanne van Helvert

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: Marjanne van Helvert .

Marjanne van Helvert is a designer, researcher and writer. From her studio in the Kunststad on the NDSM-wharf she explores the relationship between ethics and aesthetics in design. In 2016 she published her book ‘The Repsonsible Object: A History of Design Ideology for the Future’. This book bundle presents the history of design ideologies in the Western design tradition.

Hi Marjanne! What are you currently working on?

I have my hands full teaching online at the Rietveld Academie and the AKV|St.Joost. I think it’s quite a switch; I miss the art academy and the students and the work all around me. My lessons, often informal group discussions, are difficult to translate to the digital environment. However, one-on-one conversations work well again, because they are extra focused and nice and flexible to plan. Teaching does give me the necessary financial security. In addition, I am always busy writing articles and doing crafts behind the sewing machine.

You’re a busy bee! In your spare time, do you listen to any podcast you can recommend to us?

An episode of the NRC podcast Hairless Monkeys, about James Lovelock and the Gaia Theory. This is essential scientific knowledge for dummies (and smarties!), about the connection between living things and non-living things on earth. The Gaia theory is a key concept if you want to understand more about climate change but also about a pandemic like the present one. It is also a concept that offers perspective on alternative scenarios of the future where we take into account how we function in the planetary system in all our actions. I am happy to understand this.

Sounds like a good use of time. Do you have a golden film tip?

A classic: Paris is Burning (1990) for lovers of the series Pose. This documentary shows the world of drag in New York during the AIDS epidemic (not that I chose it for that). It’s about extravagance, costumes, parties, expression, solidarity, identity, and inhuman oppression. So much beauty created in so much pain and sorrow. This film can be seen for free on YouTube:

Thanks for this nice and (free) tip! Is there anything you’ve been doing more in the past months?

Experimenting in the kitchen. Not always successful, but fun.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

Nature. Our planet and everything on it. I hope the Earth feels some peace and quiet during this global human-lockdown. A little less air pollution, a little less dead animals along the roads. A little more silence and space for all non-human life. The trees just continued turning green, which is comforting. I hope, against my better judgement, that a lot of airlines will go bankrupt and won’t come back, and that from now on people will work at home more often and travel less (far), and that men will do some more useful things at home and with their children.  And it would be nice if we collectively realised that a pandemic like this is inextricably linked to our large-scale meat consumption. Afraid of pandemics? Become a vegan!

This is definitely a time for reflection. What are you looking forward to after the lockdown?

Parties! A lot of festivals and concerts I wanted to attend have been cancelled. I hope that once the virus is under control, we will be able to let go, dance, swim in the IJ, and have a picnic on the beach.

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