A group of students have gathered in front of the stage. With every exhale of the accordion, their feet jump in sync and dance around a circle. Smiling visitors cheer the impromptu choreography as they walk past them and go on to the next painting.
Cow dinosaur hybrid
Distinguishing between artists and visitors is a difficult task. Everyone looks, talks and sounds like an artist. But Finn van Cappelle’s pink hair gives him away. “I just make things to make myself smile”, he says as he points to a ‘cow dinosaur hybrid’ painting he made in one of his classes at Erasmus University College. Finn is a Political Philosophy and Critical Theory major at EUC and an Illustration student at the Willem de Kooning Academy (WdKA). “Many people will agree with me that it is very difficult to remain sane between the two majors. However, I do get a lot out of the academics in my art because I use the academic foundation of what I learn at EUC.”
Thea Bouan agrees. She combined her studies in Cultural Analysis at EUC with Photography at WdKA. “I want to become a photojournalist. I think it’s a very tricky job. It’s sharing stories of other people and oftentimes that is perceived as taking the stories and not sharing them in the right way. So learning all the theory and all the history at EUC really helps me to be a little bit more objective in my work.” For this occasion, Thea brought a collection of photographs taken during the different Covid-19 lockdowns at EUC’s student building. “I just found it amazing how each and every person had a different story that was reflected in their rooms. I just wanted to share all the emotions that people had during Covid times. It’s kind of breaking down those walls.” Each photograph being different, a common theme seems to emerge when seen as a whole: an overarching gaze towards the windows. A craving to reconnect with the outside that has finally materialised with this exhibition.
‘Sometimes life is chaos’
Others, like Seré (her artist’s name), only do an academic degree at EUC and still manage to incorporate art into their lives. “There’s a Spanish phrase, cara dura, it basically means being stubborn. That’s sort of the way that I do art.” Seré is a Political Philosophy and Critical Theory major at EUC. For this exhibition, she transformed an assignment into an ‘Autobiofiction’, with her songs and poems as the guiding voices of the short film. Seré’s body movements dialogue with the wilderness of the Canary Islands and introspect her relationship with the deserted nature of the region.
How does she manage to combine arts and academic life? “Do I manage?”, Seré laughs. “It’s a struggle, but, you know, I have no other choice. I always try to mingle politics and arts. They are impossible to separate anyway. But yeah, sometimes I don’t manage, sometimes life is chaos. But sometimes, in that specific moment of complete disaster, is when the best things come out.”
Finn van Cappelle concurs. “Academics themselves are quite inaccessible in the sense that they adhere to very rigid standards in terms of what can be published. I feel like a part of craftmanship is lost there that is very useful and can teach people a lot about certain things. Artistic movements and academic movements are kind of parallel. They feed off each other in society, so why should they not feed off each other in an academic setting as well?”
The airy melodies that once reigned over the room are now replaced by a cacophony of ’15, 30, 65!’ and a wave of eagerly raised hands as the auction of the exhibited art pieces kicks off. Over 1100 euros are raised by the end of the night, which will all go to the Razom for Ukraine and Artists at Risk foundations. The winning bidders take their newly acquired possessions home, and the smiling artists do a final round around the Maassilo before concluding the evening.